Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Artists need attorneys, too

Somes states have them, others don't. But most artists don't care until they need one. Attorneys, that is. Intellectual property, contracts, libel and slander issues, even injury, health and unemployment situations . . . writers have legal situations. It's just that sometimes their situations are unique to artistic types. Not any attorney, for instance, can handle intellectual property problems. But their services don't come cheap, and writers aren't wealthy.

SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is new to my state of South Carolina. Its purpose is to provide pro bono legal assistance to the arts community in SC. SCVLA is a collaboration project of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program, the USC School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Clinic, the SC Arts Commission and the SC Bar Pro Bono Program. You'll find such collaborations in many states. Here is a statement from the "About Us" page.

"SCVLA is essentially a referral service to those in the arts; we do not represent clients. We will, however, gather facts and review your legal matter/s and try to help you find legal representation. Our volunteer attorneys are busy professionals who donate their time to SCVLA clients. We cannot assign or require any attorney to represent you. We work with dedicated volunteer attorneys and will do our best to refer you to an attorney for help."

There are 32 such state volunteer legal services at my last count. You can find other states' volunteer legal services at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. South Carolina's service is so new it's even posted yet. The list posts resources in Australia and Canada, as well. The resources page offers educational information to help you analyze topics like copyright, trademarks and contracts before you seek that attorney.

You may skim over this thinking you don't need it, but please . . . tuck this info away for a rainy day. For that day when someone takes your manuscript or tries to make you sign a contract you do not understand. I harped on planning and goals last week. Knowing where to turn in time of crisis is just sound planning.

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