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Old 08-23-2007, 07:19 PM   #1
ihavezippers
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Default The Video Game Attorney

This is a long shot I realize, but by any chance are there any "video game attorneys" out there willing to give a third-year law student some advice as to getting into the industry?

I am going to graduate with honors next may, with my school's "intellectual property focus area." Anyhow, as you can imagine, my school doesn't offer any courses in this---the professors are still going wild about the internet's legal issues, if you can imagine that. Nor are there a lot of the traditional legal resources for job searching available in this area. And if I told my career services head my interest in this area, as you can probably understand, I just threw any legitimacy I had out the window---video gaming, especially in the law school environment is not given a lot of respect.

Please email me if you can offer me any advice. Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2007, 04:08 AM   #2
jillduffy
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Default The Game Attorney

There is a game attorney, and he's dubbed himself "The Game Attorney." His name is Tom Buscaglia, and he's written a few articles for Game Developer magazine in the past.

He blogs (infrequently) here: http://www.gameattorney.com/blog

Information about his law firm, T. H. Buscaglia and Associates in Miami, can be found here: http://intelaw.com

He also often speaks at industry events. I would recommend attending an event and just keeping an eye out for him and chatting him up. I've met him a few times, and he's easy to talk to. If you dropped him a short and polite email asking a specific question, I bet he'd respond.

Good luck!
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Old 08-24-2007, 11:01 AM   #3
ihavezippers
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Thanks Jill,
I've sent him an email, unfortunately long, rambling, and pretty un-specific. But I've enjoyed reading his blog entries this morning. Talk about a great area of law to practice in...
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Old 08-24-2007, 04:06 PM   #4
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If I where in your position I would look for the job requirements of any software development company lawyer and go get those. Our game development company is just getting off the ground and we are doing just that to see what we should require of our employees. It's Kind of funny because the three things we need first are a lawyer, business manager and accountant.
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Old 08-25-2007, 05:48 PM   #5
ihavezippers
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Thanks Justin,
need an inexperienced third year law student? Heheh. I'm cheap. Really cheap. Seriously though, thanks for your much appreciated advice.
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Old 03-22-2008, 12:07 PM   #6
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Hi there,

I'm not a video game attorney (I took the bar in February), but I work for an Entertainment attorney in LA and my LL.M. focus was on video game law and new media, so I know where you're coming from. I'm actually trying to expand my employer's (and eventually my own) client base to include game developers because it's what I love. Still it's a fairly small industry at this point and overly-limiting yourself can be dangerous.

As far as getting work-- Most game developers don't have in house counsel because they can't afford, and the big publishers already have in house counsel and don't hire often. When they do, they usually pick those attorneys who have worked on the other side of the table.

My suggestion would be to get involved with an entertainment law firm, attorney, or a firm with an entertainment practice and start building your developer client base from there. A very few firms actually have a video game/new media department, but because those departments are small, they usually only have one or two attorneys working it. You'd probably be better off with an general entertainment practice. From there, you're probably going to have to start getting your own video game clients when you have time.

As someone already mentioned, the one of the first people developers look for when they're starting their business is a lawyer. Your duty as an attorney is to make sure you're familiar with the needs, wants, and realities of your client's position. You also need to care about your client, what they love, and what they do. It's the same with music and film-- you are your client's friend, business adviser, sometimes accountant, sometimes priest, advocate, and devil's advocate (someone needs to argue with him, after all).

Where do you get clients? Conferences, meetups, and conventions are where you'll find your largest concentration of developers and publishers. You can also look into putting ads in art institute newsletters to promote your services to those just setting out. My boss and I both teach at Musicians' Institute, which means a lot of our referrals come from our colleagues and students there. You can also refer back to your college friends and see if any of them when the game development route.

There's no such thing as "THE Video Game Attorney," no matter how they promote themselves. It's a multi-billion dollar industry, with hundreds of attorneys working in-house for companies like activision, THQ, Midway, etc. No one attorney can claim that title, it's just the usual hubris and shameless self-promotion you see in every entertainment industry.

Best of luck to you, and feel free to contact me (refer to the sig, below) if you have any other questions.

Best--
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