Dealing with High-Profile Clients, Athletes, Musicians and Journalists; Tips from Entertainment and Sports Law Panels


At 'Media and the Law' panel, from left, Adjunct Professor Donald Papy; CBS4 reporter Brian Andrews; attorneys Mark Eiglarsh and Jared Lopez; and Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle. At rear, Courtney Caliendo, 3L. (Photo: Nick Madigan/Miami Law) 

One of the most visible relationships in the legal realm is the symbiotic connection between lawyers and journalists. Often, especially during high-profile trials that are not bound by gag orders, attorneys want reporters to push their side's case before the public – and, not incidentally, for the benefit of the jury – while journalists need access to both prosecution and defense so that they can properly explain the nuances of the trial to their audiences. In addition, reporters and columnists frequently seek opinions from lawyers and law professors on legal issues that arise in the course of covering the news.

Such alliances were part of the discussion at a panel titled "Law and the Media: Blockbuster Trials, Legal Commentary and the Court of Public Opinion," one of several panels assembled for Miami Law's 16th Annual Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium, held recently at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. Participants in the symposium also tackled legal matters in music and live entertainment, and in issues such as the implications of concussions in the National Football League and amateurism in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The "Law and the Media" panel was moderated by Adjunct Professor Donald M. Papy and was comprised of Brian Andrews, a reporter for the CBS affiliate in Miami; David Ovalle, who covers crime and courts for The Miami Herald; Jared Lopez, a partner at Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf; and Mark Eiglarsh, a former a Miami-Dade County prosecutor who also serves on the adjunct faculty at Miami Law and makes frequent appearances on news shows as a commentator.

Courtney Caliendo, a third-year law student and a member of the Entertainment & Sports Law Society, which hosted the symposium, said afterward that she had brought the idea of the "Law and the Media" panel to the event because she thought nascent attorneys should "learn how to represent high-profile clients and how to deal with high-profile cases."

"It's important for budding attorneys to know how to deal with the media, and this is a great opportunity for the media to open a conversation about what they need from us," Caliendo said, referring to lawyers in general. She added that it was "invigorating to hear the different points of views from print and broadcast journalists and from attorneys accustomed to practicing law in the spotlight."

Professor Papy, who is also the Chief Deputy City Attorney for Miami Beach, said the panel was "a fair and balanced look at the interaction between lawyers and the media." He noted that the discussion of social media, in particular, was "very enlightening."

More than 20 panelists overall spoke at the symposium on a host of matters in sports and entertainment law, including recent developments in the legal landscape of music and the art of orchestrating concerts and festivals. The panelists included attorney Paul Anderson, who litigates on behalf of former National Football League players; Billy Corben, a filmmaker who produced "The U" and "Broke;" Serona Elton, an Associate Professor at the University of Miami Frost School of Music; Sandy York, General Counsel for the Ultra Music Festival; and Matthew W. Buser, an entertainment lawyer and manager who was on the executive board of the Entertainment & Sports Law Society before graduating from Miami Law in 2011.

Buser and York spoke on a panel titled "Behind the Scenes and Behind the Deal: The Art of Orchestrating Live Entertainment," which illuminated the legal challenges and complexities of the huge business of music festivals, tours and concerts. Buser, a co-founder of Miami-based JaMM Entertainment Management, said his company was required to carry insurance to protect its clients "in case somebody goes crazy" at a public event such as a concert. He noted that performers have injured audience members by hurling microphone stands, instruments and drumsticks into crowds, or – with fatal results – when pyrotechnics have gone horribly awry.

York advised prospective lawyers in the field to make sure every possibility is covered. "When you're negotiating contracts, you need to make sure that what's not lost is artists' responsibility," she said. "I expect any artist who's going to be on stage at Ultra to be responsible for their own negligence." Risk management, York went on, is an integral part of the festival's success, and understanding insurance is critical.

"My job, at the end of the day," York said, "is to transfer risk to anyone but myself."