In this article, Aditya Shrivastava, marketing executive at iPleaders discusses career opportunities in Media Law.
Are you a media fanatic?
Are Facebook and Twitter a part of your everyday life?
Do you know you could make a career out of it in law?
The world of media is fascinating. From big screens to celebrities, it is always enticing and equally challenging. The impact of media is strong enough to not just influence young minds and hearts, but also to create a huge uproar among the masses in case of discontent.
Media law has recently emerged as a huge platform for the young advocates to explore. As per a report by IBEF, the Indian media & entertainment sector is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.9 per cent, to reach US$ 37.55 billion by 2021 from US$ 19.59 billion in 2016, outshining the global average of 4.2 per cent.
The reason, if you may ask, is simple. Media is not just restricted to the radio and television anymore. There is theatre, cinema, social media, YouTube, Netflix and all the recent application-based video-streaming platforms. With the recent cases particularly because of the Film Certification Board (CBFC) the resources to meet the demands with such specialization in media laws is very scarce.
With hardly two-three well-known firms in this space and not even a handful of lawyers dealing specifically in media laws, the field comes with a lot of opportunities and with decent remuneration. With over 15 lakh practicing lawyers most of whom are working for mediocre or low paying jobs, media law firms pay an above average salary and media houses are pay decently as per industry.
However, making space for oneself does not come easily if you want to work as a lawyer specialising in media laws.
Adv. Satya Banerjee, in his personal capacity, spoke about his struggles with making a name in the media industry, “It is difficult to break through because of the complex nature of the media and entertainment industry.”
An advocate who is currently employed with one of the top media law firms in India also struggled to get through his current position. He says, “I interned for a year without a pay only to join at a pay scale barely useful to meet my ends. It was only after gaining 6 months of work experience, I was able to earn a stable income. It’s much better now, but, I wish I could have achieved it a little earlier. Life would have been way different now.”
If you look at any of the big media houses, say Viacom18, any job opportunity is available only for individuals with a minimum of four years of experience. Hindustan Times has a company policy of not recruiting lawyers with less than 2 years of post-qualification experience. It is ironical, because, very few seek to freshers, everyone somehow expects them to have it.
The biggest hurdle is, though one can easily climb up the ladder and achieve a decent package it is inherently challenging to enter the business. They all seem to have the same question: Why do you want to work in-house as a fresher?
Let us try to get the logic straight however biased it might sound. Given, the specialization of the industry and the huge public image these organizations have, along with the limited resources, nobody really has the time to train new entrants, and it just becomes more convenient to have somebody who is thorough with the law and is capable of taking quick decisions. While universities avoid having a course, not catering to an entire sector, gaining knowledge in media laws becomes a tough nut to crack.
“So, am I suggesting that you cannot make a career in media law if you are a fresher?”
No. I started off law school with a dream to make it big in the media sector. It of course came from the fact that I wanted to be a journalist, and ended up thinking law would be a stepping stone towards this journey. At that point in time, when everyone wanted to either become a successful criminal lawyer or prove their mettle as a corporate lawyer, it was a challenge to dream of making a career in media laws, specifically in-house. It was more problematic, especially because my law school did not have it in the course curriculum.
This fuelled my troubles further to make it into the media industry. Neither did I have a mentor, not a subject on my mark sheets to prove that I have learnt the law. I was left on my own. I would rather express my immense gratitude to this course and the mentors. I owe it big time to them because of which I am where I am today. Obstacles were never-ending and hardships seemed to have banked upon me, however, it was a broken bridge which I decided to sail through irrespective. Much to my amusement, that has made me very strong, dexterous and an adjustable individual. As a fresher, it paved my way, to get into the industry and make a respectable position for myself.
My perception of the whole industry changed for good due to this short encounter. A seminar a clueless and worried fourth-year law student attended back in the past did great wonders. In a session by one of the most celebrated media lawyers in the country, on being questioned, what kind of individuals he seeks to hire? He smiled and said, “It goes without saying, that we only hire those who are extremely passionate about media laws and have thorough knowledge about the issues which we deal with. We only trust a zeal to grow and ideas which can bring a change. We need knowledge because we know we can deliver experience.”
Life changed drastically after that. I was not scared a morsel about being inexperienced and thus doubtful about my career choice. I was only concerned about finding the right place to quench my thirst for knowledge. I was told by a lot of lawyers, that it might be difficult to make it into the business, but once you do, to become a well-known lawyer is just a matter of constant efforts and hard work.
When you want to focus on a specific genre, you need specialization. You might have observed, only those professors are everyone’s favorite who know their subjects well. Only those businessmen are successful who have a complete idea along with the risk assessment of their market. To be reasonably good at something is indeed a matter of dedication, hard work and confidence in the choices you make. My choice was to take up this course.
Media law might look as a great opportunity, but if you plan to pursue it for just the money, you might want to get a reality check.
Let’s be honest about it, I am not going to only brag about how you can make a fortune out of this field but for individuals disinterested in the subject things might go a little off the board. Firstly, you end up doing something you are probably not interested in and secondly, because of the concentrated genre this is switching for you later on due to frustration might be a big challenge.
There are lawyers who got into the profession for easy money and quit once they figured how different it is from their expectations. In a competitive setup, where only 1% to 2% of the total fraternity are competing to bag the best clients only the fittest survives and makes it to the top league. Others just weed themselves out because that’s not where the passion lies and end up lost.
It is important for you to understand that.
Another critical aspect is, that apart from being very passionate about the subject, media law requires you to be creative in order to find solutions to real problems your clients are facing. You are dealing with clients from the creative field, their issues are slightly different from the regular. You need to be tactful while dealing with them. With over US $ 6.58 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flowing in, Indian media industry – be it print, radio, television, films or the digital media, presently bank only on majorly on contracts and regulations. You need to beautifully learn the art of vetting, negotiating and drafting. You need to understand different business models and deliver so that they can be used by the outsourcing vendors – all of which I learnt through this course.
One needs to understand the nuances of the field before making the choice.
If your creativity and passion can drive you enough to think you can make it big in this sector, I would like to welcome you with open arms. What most of the media law luminaries say actually is a litmus paper test to the reality. A genius or a knowledgeable resource cannot be easily ignored. But to get there, you first need to believe in yourself and the industry. The stakes are very high, sure, but with just the right kind of effort and this online course, it’s not a big deal to make it a success story. What I am about to tell you is a deal changer. It certainly is not a cheat or a hack, neither does it not require you to put in efforts, instead it is an additional task that you might want take up diligently.
When I was on my quest to find the right resource to increase my knowledge and crack every interview in this industry, I found a brilliant course called LS Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws, created by multiple players from the media industry who want individuals who are not just passionate or creative but also want to learn and grow.
In addition to media laws, you would also get a fair idea about associated units like e-commerce, cybersecurity, data security etc. This course is designed specifically in a way, which will help you not just learn how to handle media or cybercrimes and handling of such cases but also how to draft and negotiate agreements pertinent to this industry.
The ultimate goal of this course to acquaint you and train you professionally so that you don’t have to struggle with the tag of being a fresher with no experience of knowledge. You can walk in with your head held high with knowledge and ideas best known to yourself paving for a smooth and respectable career.
Welcome, to a course that changed my career.
Till you find yours, all the luck.