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NEAR TRUTHS:
AMERICAN ASPIRATION

A recent Near Truths column noting certain prominent music attorneys managed not to include a single woman. Although the names therein were in no way advanced as the only lawyers of note, it’s clear this was an error in need of rectifying. In the wake of #TimesUp and #MeToo, we have been among the industry publications calling for greater inclusion and better representation; in this regard the aforementioned column failed our own standard utterly. That mistake will not be repeated.

The last decade or so has seen remarkable changes as a great many extraordinary women moved up the ranks of the leading music companies. But a similar transformation in the legal community has not been sufficiently heralded by us.

It’s with this in mind that we present this list showcasing some of the brightest and most successful entertainment lawyers in our industry, and yes, they are all women.

We also note that three of the top execs in the business—UMG EVP Michele Anthony, Sony Music EVP/General Counsel Julie Swidler and Capitol Music Group COO Michelle Jubelirer—were attorneys in private practice before making the leap to the boardrooms of the majors. They have often been the legal players sitting on the other side of the table from the all-stars listed below, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Anthony’s wide-ranging duties cut across all facets of UMG’s business, and she’s one of the group’s top policy-making execs, not to mention a tireless advocate for the company’s myriad philanthropic efforts. Swidler ranks as one of Sony’s key execs and plays a similarly major role in policy; she’s also been strongly engaged in charitable work and activism. Jubelirer has been and continues to be one of the top two execs at CMG, with oversight of all key divisions and a deep involvement with the company’s artist roster. She, too, has devoted herself wholeheartedly to civic engagement.

We also note such label legal minds as Martha Braithwaite, Alison Finley, Saheli Datta, Nicola Levy, Stephanie Lundwall Yu and Tracy Kies.

Attorney Kamala Harris had this to say in her first speech as Vice President of the United States: “American aspiration is what drove the women of this nation throughout history to demand equal rights and the authors of the Bill of Rights to claim freedoms that had rarely been written down before. A great experiment takes great determination. The will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting.”

The women featured here are role models, champions of artists’ rights and leaders of the biz.

Adams and Reese LLP

Linda Edell Howard | Partner & Entertainment and New Media Team Leader
Based in Nashville, Howard leads the firm’s full-service entertainment and copyright team and provides a concierge copyright service for estates including that of Fats Domino. Has closed TV deals such as American Idol and The Voice. Clients include Desmond Child, J.D. Souther, Tom Douglas, Don Everly and Reeves Gabrels.

Carroll Guido Groffman Cohen Bar & Karalian, LLP

Rosemary Carroll | Founding Partner
Gender equality has always been paramount for Carroll’s firm, which has striven to maintain the same number of male and female attorneys. Her clients include Lucinda Williams since 1989, Patti Smith since 1994, The War on Drugs, Phoebe Bridgers, The Strokes and Iggy Pop. She also serves on the executive committee of She Is the Music, an industrywide movement to empower female creators.

Gillian Bar | Partner
Bar’s name was added to the letterhead in 2019, reflecting her importance to the firm and heightened profile. She counts among her clients Arcade Fire, The National, Jack Antonoff, Gracie Abrams, Omar Apollo, MorMor, Cavetown, Sleater Kinney and Goth Babe.

Renee Karalian | Partner
Karalian relocated from NYC to L.A. and reinvigorated the firm’s West Coast office. Her name was added to its letterhead in 2019. Her clients include Julia Michaels, Playboi Carti, Emile Haynie, Mustard, Kid Cudi, Kamasi Washington, Baby Keem, Steve Lacy and Serban Ghenea.

Carter + Woodard

Uwonda Carter Scott | Partner
A transactional attorney advising in business law and entertainment affairs, Carter just announced a new partnership with fellow Atlanta-based lawyer Donald Woodard, launching a Black-owned powerhouse entertainment firm. Carter’s music clients include Generation Now’s DJ Drama and Lakeshow Morrison, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, Metro Boomin and Kelly Rowland.

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, P.C.

Sonya Guardo | Partner
Guardo has negotiated a wide array of transactions for artists such as Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga, including Gaga’s residency at MGM. Her clients include Idina Menzel and Priyanka Chopra as well as up-and-comer Grace Gaustad.

Hertz Lichtenstein Young & Polk LLP

Jamie Young
| Partner
Young represented the estate of Tom Petty in recent disputes and mediation, helping settle the matters and establish a new team and operating structure for them to do business. She’s represented Celine Dion and Stevie Nicks for decades, and her other clients include Fleetwood Mac, AJR, Perry Farrell, Chris Isaak, Tom Morello, Melissa Etheridge and DJ Shadow.

The Justice Dept.

Jennifer Justice
| CEO/Founder
After representing such artists as Mark Ronson, Slipknot and Jay-Z and serving as General Counsel/EVP at Roc Nation, Justice founded a female-focused advisory, consulting and law firm dedicated to fighting for financial equity for female talent and professionals. In music, she represents execs such as Caron Veazey, negotiated Samantha Kirby’s deal, handled behind-the-scenes sexual-harassment claims and has begun taking on artists like Rozzi and SayGrace.

King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP

Leslie Frank
| Partner
In addition to serving as day-to-day counsel for Metallica and blink-182, Frank has grown her practice to include Steve Aoki, Zedd, Skrillex and diverse up-and-comers from Ghostemane to Avery Lynch to Kelsey Lu.

Marjorie Garcia | Partner
Garcia led the firm’s expansion of its Latin music department, building a roster of clients that includes Juanes, Los Tigres del Norte, Gloria Trevi, Jesse & Joy, Raymix, Nacho, Pabllo Vittar, Carla Morrison, Sofia Reyes, Hear This Music, Snow Tha Product, Fuego, Maejor, Andres Torres & Mauricio Rengifo and The Marias.

Laurie Soriano | Partner
Soriano focuses primarily on contract negotiations and troubleshooting, as well as serving as the general legal advisor to many creative individuals and companies. Her clients range from legacy artists like Carole King, Carly Simon and Taj Mahal to such current acts as Calvin Harris, twenty one pilots, Marilyn Manson, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver and Kim Petras.

LaPolt Law, P.C.

Dina LaPolt | Founder/President
Owner of LaPolt Law P.C., a rare instance of a music firm of its stature founded by a sole female attorney, LaPolt represents numerous high-profile clients, including Steven Tyler, Mick Fleetwood, 21 Savage, Deadmau5 and Cardi B. Her extensive legislative advocacy has spanned the passage of the Music Modernization Act and the co-founding of Songwriters of North America (SONA).

Sarah Scott | Managing Attorney
Scott manages the boutique firm’s nine attorneys and works to strategize and grow the businesses of the above clients as well as Kiefer Sutherland and Hilary Duff (for music and branding), iann dior, Tyga, SAINt JHN and Galantis

Law Firm of Lawson McKinley

Shay Lawson | Managing Attorney
Atlanta-based Lawson represents Offset for deals outside of music. Her other clients include Sheldon Ferguson, Henny Tha Bizness and Groove, as well as Chinara Butler. She also signed on as a partner of the Black Music Action Coalition at its inception and serves as advocacy co-chair for the Atlanta chapter of the Recording Academy.

Law Offices of Angela N. Martínez

Angie Martínez | Attorney at Law & General Counsel, Ozuna Entertainment
Based in Miami with various entertainment clients, Martinez represents such artists as Ozuna, Luis Fonsi, Camilo, Manuel Turizo, Darell, Mau y Ricky, Ricardo Montaner, Mike Bahia and Greeicy. In 2020 she was named a Leading Lady of Entertainment by the Latin Grammys and one of the Wonder Women of Latin Music by the Latin Alternative Music Conference.

Loeb & Loeb LLP

Debbie White | Partner & Vice Chair, Music Industry
NYC-based but avowedly bicoastal, barrister White has a global footprint with her burgeoning practice. Among her clients: China’s largest tech/entertainment company, Tencent, Korean powerhouse Big Hit and BTS, Primary Wave, The Who, Christina Aguilera, Duran Duran, Melanie MartinezCannons, Regina Spektor, major biz execs and corporations including Citi and Uber. She also does significant work on Broadway, representing producers of such shows as Pretty Woman and Jagged Little Pill.

Denise Stevens | Partner
Based in Nashville with a focus on entertainment, copyright and trademark transactions, Stevens has a significant record of institutional transactional work, including music-catalog sales and acquisitions of all sizes. She counts among her artists Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Loretta Lynn, Amy Grant, Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, Robert DeLong, Teyana Taylor, Anthony Hamilton and Chip Esten.

Tiffany Dunn | Office Administrative Partner, Nashville
Nashville-based Dunn’s practice focuses on transactions in entertainment and intellectual-property protection and enforcement. Her clients include Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Midland, Runaway June and Old Crow Medicine Show as well as the legacies of Johnny Cash, B.B. King and others. She also works with the Grand Ole Opry.

Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light LLP

Audrey Benoualid | Partner (music)
Benoualid has run point for partners’ clients, negotiating and papering major music-related transactions for artists including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Tranter and Troye Sivan. Her own roster of clients includes Peach Tree Rascals, Brocker Way, Verzache, Brett McLaughlin, Big Taste, Allie X and CLAY.

Rimon Law

Jill Berliner | Partner
Representing and handling transactions for individuals and companies across music, sports and entertainment, Berliner counsels clients including Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Nirvana and Soundgarden, the latter in general and in connection with the dispute with the estate of Chris Cornell.

Ziffren Brittenham LLP

Kelly Vallon | Partner
Vallon has built a client roster that includes Olivia Rodrigo, Kai, Hether, Amorphous, J. Rey Soul and Grace Weber while working with firm clients like Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Travis Scott, Jennifer Hudson, Rosalía, Becky G and Justin Timberlake. She also serves on the executive committee of She Is the Music.

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