Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship With The Legal Field

I feel that way about a lot of it. One of NYCLA's committees and the Cardozo School of Law Indie Film Clinic folk are shining examples.

There are things I like about NYCLA:

1. Cheaper CLE courses
2. Cheaper membership fees & more flexible terms for the unemployed
3. More dedication to get with modern times & actually use technology instead of just hopping on the bandwagon
4. Some great staff, including Stewart Aaron, who I know through the City Bar Entertainment Committee. He even contributed to my company's latest attempt at crowd funding though the campaign ultimately failed. In short, he rocks!
5. Perhaps a bit more accessibility to higher ups than to people at City Bar
6. I've been told this one is also more progressive in ideas & open to new things than City Bar; I see some of that

Here's what I really don't like: the total lack of respect. I found out that NYCLA's Art Committee is seeking entries for the 2nd Annual Film Festival. I submitted some films last year; 2 were shown & 1 was told her film would be shown in the spring (because last year, the festival was in the Fall).

My friend whose film was supposed to be shown in the Spring never heard a word from them again. I even asked today to make sure; never heard a damn thing.

While there was a whole article in there lauding one particular film I don't recall seeing as part of this series, there was no mention of any plans to screen her film & it did have a legal theme. To my knowledge, no one even told her they'd changed their minds.

This just pisses me off since first off, it comes on top of having to complain when I was not given credit for submitting the initial short film that came in (whose application I personally sent in for the filmmaker I nominated). My company got a decent welcome & treatment when we came in the next month but I have to wonder if it's because I threatened to pull us out of there after not getting recognized for nominating the first film that I got into the series.

The total snubbing of my friend really makes me look back & wonder about that.

Second, it's disrespect to me. I'm putting my neck out there & vouching for this organization to MY contacts, who don't know this place from anywhere else. Many of my contacts have things you're never going to see in some mainstream theater. They have art & I don't vouch for folk who don't have talent or a product I like.

As for more disrespect to me, I was told that the Indie Film Clinic at Cardozo would be considering attorneys to volunteer there this past fall.

Okay, first off I've been in the indie film game for 4 years at my own company!! I've been doing things that most attorneys don't get to do & I'm perceived in a way they aren't: I'm not just some lawyer in a suit (good luck finding one that doesn't look frumpy on me). I'm a creative person MYSELF & have cred for it--I never even had to ask anyone to see my creative works. I actually know how to talk to creative types & make things clear without the legalese or elitist attitude.

I'm actually IN that world! I'm not some outsider looking in. I know the fucking culture, something I really don't see the average law firm attorney having! Most of you aren't going to have executive knowledge.

As I know law schools are obsessed with GPA, law review participation & where you went to law school (despite the head of this clinic saying they would look at one's practical experience in selection choices), it seems to me that you're not going to get effective help here if you're an indie filmmaker.

I've never recommended it to anyone & I still won't. Indie filmmaking continues to change & what worked 10 years ago doesn't necessarily work today (this was even stated by the presenter at my Aspiring Filmmakers' Bootcamp, himself a well known indie filmmaker). Unless you're a lawyer who actually has some creative cache in the business (prior or current experience in an entertainment role, close friends within it, etc.), you don't know shit about getting that client trust & respect. Hollywood is also very different from the indie world. I don't know of many attorneys in law firms who'd bother to research the indie film culture & I don't mean "indie" like the movie aired on IFC. I'm speaking of true, underground indie that most people don't know about & you have to actually FIND to know about.

Who else finds something wrong with an indie film clinic where an attorney that actually WORKS in the indie film industry as executive + lawyer is not being contacted to get involved? That elitist BS doesn't fly in my world. No one cares about your Harvard law degree & if you bring it up, you'll be announcing yourself as a privileged douchebag who can't help the average indie filmmaker. No one's cared about where I went to law school & used it as a basis for my worth as a person like attorneys will do to others.

Hearing about these examples, you can see where my loyalties lie & why they lie where they do. I'm all about my creative/entertainment people, at least the ones who aren't jerks to me or completely unprofessional. Seems that's a much smaller number than the amount of attorneys who have disrespected me.

My involving legal stuff in anything is usually out of the desire to help my entertainment people, not legal organizations (individual attorneys are a different story since I never refer people I despise). While I think the President of NYCLA is awesome & would say the same about some people within that association, I don't really want to join the LinkedIn groups or follow them on Facebook or anything. To me, that sort of thing feels like a public validation of "you're cool." I just can't do that, especially with this disregard to my friend & to me. I can't do it for City Bar either.

I think the concept of an indie film legal clinic is a good one but that clinic should be headed by attorneys with actual entertainment industry experience who know that personality (including motivation) & experience trumps law school BS that only means something to clueless morons who deserve the incompetence they get from hiring based on such standards (I'm talking to you, BigLaw). Academics & BigLaw refugees who don't have entertainment experience should stay out of leadership roles unless they can drop the snottiness & elitism of those worlds + learn the indie culture. That's the only way such a clinic stands a chance of being effective & encouraging the desired clientele to show up.

Crap like this fuels me to surpass them professionally & personally. One day, these assholes will be clamoring to talk to me & I will have only two words to say. You can guess what they are.

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