This page tells you everything you need to know about media law, becoming a media lawyer, career benefits and the work you will complete.

What Is Media Law?

Media law governs what can be published and broadcast. Some of the elements that media law includes are censorship and the tort of defamation, as well as privacy.

This area of law also relates to intellectual property law (i.e. issues such as copyright and ownership).

Consequently, media law is a broad area of law which covers:

  • Broadcasting – public service broadcasting (e.g. BBC) and commercial broadcasting (e.g. ITV)
  • Publishing – e.g. books, newspapers, print magazines
  • Music – includes working with talent, producers and managers
  • Film & television
  • Digital media – includes gaming and social media, such as tweets and Facebook campaigns
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Theatre – includes working across ballet, opera, dance and circus, with producers, theatre owners, not-for-profit companies, venues, drama schools, industry bodies, agents and creative talent

Take a look at this video by law firm Bird & Bird for a little more insight into eSports law, a form of gaming law, and how to break into it.


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What Do Media Lawyers Do?

Day-to-day responsibilities differ depending on whether you are a solicitor or barrister.

Media Solicitors

Media solicitors work on both contentious and non-contentious matters.

Litigation teams will typically include around three to five lawyers, for example: partner, senior associate, associate and trainee, or paralegal.

Non-contentious work includes:

  • Drafting and advising on contracts
  • Talent agreements and advertising agency agreements
  • Providing ‘clearance’ advice for a client on usage of images or music tracks

Moreover, part of working in this area involves socialising with clients, occasional overseas travel and giving legal training workshops to clients.

Media Barristers

On a day-to-day basis, media barristers will:

  • Give advice
  • Draft statements of case and skeleton arguments
  • Appear in court
  • Work on urgent applications for injunctions

More generally, frequent developments in digital media mean the law is always racing to catch up with it. As such, clients expect media lawyers to continually keep up with:

  • Relevant case law
  • Adjudications to new (and proposed) legislation

Media Law: Pros

The benefits of a career in media law include how topical it is. As the world of media moves so fast, you can expect to see the things you work on in the news and all around you, from advertising billboards to shops and even TV.

Not to mention that, because the media landscape is constantly changing, the law that goes along with it is constantly being adapted too. You’ll be at the forefront of cutting edge media law.

Also, it’s likely that even as a trainee you’ll be in contact with clients early on (with guidance from senior lawyers). The industry is very young and constantly growing so you’ll have a chance to work with lesser-known clients and deal with the legal side as they grow.

However, one downside of media law is that the world it belongs to doesn’t really sleep. Associates and partners are often ‘on call’ outside of office hours (usually evenings and weekends) to respond to queries from clients. On the bright side, it’s unlikely these will involve staying late at the office unless you’re a barrister working on urgent applications for injunctions.


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Where Can I Practise as a Media Lawyer?

As media and entertainment law encompass so many industries within media, it’s difficult to summarise the top UK law firms which specialise in media law. Some of the top UK law firms include:

You may also consider becoming a barrister that specialises in media law. A selection of the top chambers for this include:

  • Blackstone Chambers
  • 8 New Square
  • Hogarth Chambers

And, of course, you can practise in-house for a variety of corporations and organisations – depending on where your interests lie!

Is it for Me?

As you might have guessed by now, media law is very fast-paced and, because of the nature of the industry, is heavily client-focused.

In addition to this, other key attributes include:

  • Analytical and research skills
  • The confidence to engage with and build rapport with clients
  • Ability to socialise with clients (beyond work requirements)

Alongside your degree, you could consider getting involved with media societies or starting your own blog to demonstrate an interest and build your knowledge.

Routes Into Media Law

Media lawyers either work for law firms, in-house or chambers – as such, you should expect to follow the usual path to becoming a solicitor or barrister.

Work Experience

Work experience with student societies which demonstrate an interest in media or media companies (whether gaming, journalism, theatre or other forms), is important if you wish to follow this career path. This is because it allows you to develop commercial awareness, which is vital for getting a foot in the door.

You might also want to start a blog where you keep track of developments in your sector of interest, or take some work experience in that sector so that you understand both the legal and practical sides. For example, if you’re interested in working on publishing as a lawyer, you might want to work for a publisher.

In order to gain some legal experience as a solicitor, it’s a good idea to pursue vacation schemes or training contracts with media law firms. If you wish to become a barrister, apply for mini-pupillages and pupillages with chambers which specialise in media law.


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