Entertainment Law, Lawyer of the Day, Skaddenfreude

(Down and Out) Lawyer of the Day: Cliff Lovette

When plotting the escape from Biglaw, many associates set their sights on entertainment law. In their Hollywood dreaming, they imagine mingling with the hottest actors, actresses and producers as they write up contracts and negotiate movie and music deals.

We know that many a recruiter is dangling this prospect in front of desperate young lawyers looking for jobs. But the actual entry into entertainment law is not terribly easy, and once you get there, it’s not always so sexy as you might imagine.

One lawyer in Atlanta lived the show biz law dream, though. Cliff Lovette worked in-house for a record company, and then founded his own entertainment law firm. He used to represent some of music’s hottest acts, with Usher and Lisa “LeftEye” Lopes among his clients. He was a regular at the Grammys. He was the subject of magazine feature stories. His law group even had its own MySpace page.

But Lovette is not lovin’ it anymore. Now, the Emory Law grad is on food stamps…

The dream turned into a nightmare. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

For the past few months, the former senior vice president of an Atlanta record company has been collecting government food stamps and buying bulk food from the charity agency Angel Food Ministries. His two children are on Medicaid, the government health insurance program.

“I know there is a stigma attached to these programs,” Lovette said. “I don’t buy that stigma.”

Lovette feels he has paid his taxes for years, and now it is his turn to receive a helping hand. Moreover, he’s seen Wall Street firms and automakers receive government bailouts and assistance. Why not him?

Lovette’s professional demise came about in part because of the collapse of the record industry. LeftEye Lopes’s 2002 death in a car crash hurt his client list, and Usher dumping him five years ago hurt it more. Then the vultures started circling:

As financial pressures mounted in the industry, Lovette said, large entertainment law firms from New York and Los Angeles came to Atlanta and made off with some of his clients, offering them deals he could not match.

By 2009, he had closed his Buckhead practice and became a sole practitioner in the basement of his home. He also started to eat through his savings.

Lovette went from earning over $250,000 annually to $329 a month from BigGov.

For those of you still in law school thinking about a future in entertainment, make sure to also bone up on public assistance law.

Show biz lawyer down to collecting food stamps [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

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