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News & Publications

News & Publications

Why I Became and Entertainment Lawyer as featured in Lawyer'd Magazine (Spring 2018 Issue)

Posted on August 7, 2019 at 7:50 AM

Why did I become an Entertainment Lawyer?

In 2013, I made the difficult decision, and planted a foundation, to leave a well-

paying federal job and transition to a solo firm. My grandmother had months to

live, my first grandchild had just been born, and honestly, I felt stagnate,

professionally. In October of that year, my plans were thrust into full action,

ahead of schedule, and I was laid off from my cushy government job during

massive budget cuts. I decided to jump-start the Law Office of Deborah E.

Johnson, Esq. immediately, in a Dallas suburb.

Colleagues often ask me, “Why did you choose entertainment law?” The truth is -

it chose me. My best friend, who is also a lawyer, married a gospel recording

artist in 2011. Artists and others in the entertainment industry, knowing she was

a lawyer, sought her legal expertise; however, with a full-time position in another

legal field, she genuinely did not have the time or resources to field all of those

potential clients and legal issues. She and her husband heavily encouraged me to

start my own entertainment law firm. They said I possessed the intelligence, wit,

and personality for this unique field. I was hesitant at first, but the demands of

family and desire to spend more time with my children and grandchildren caused

me to consider it. After being laid off, I jumped right into the entertainment law


I hit the ground running, with my mind geared towards mostly a transactional law

firm. I read every article and book I could get my hands on. I accelerated my

learning by attending entertainment law seminars and shadowing other lawyers.

At times, I found the field challenging because Dallas is not really known as a hub

for entertainers. Although Austin is considered a film and entertainment capital, I

quickly discovered that there were only a handful of entertainment lawyers in the

Dallas area.

Starting a new solo firm is challenging in itself, especially for a working mom. But

starting a new solo firm, in an area that is primarily dominated by men, and is

rarely practiced in your geographic region, with very little hands-on experience,

turned into my miracle.

The truth is I went to law school because I wanted to make a difference. What I

found was that much of the practice of law centered around making money,

when what I really wanted to do was serve my community and represent the


What I discovered is that in any area of law, you can do just that. Once I hung my

shingle and the word started to get out that a new entertainment lawyer was in

town, independent artists, filmmakers, musicians, actors, and models all around

the State of Texas began to contact me for legal representation. The variety of

services I provide range from the very simply work-for-hire agreement, to the

extremely complex, such as representing a well-known recording artist who

desires to be released from a tremendously unbalanced and unfair recording


Second, I discovered that people are just people, and you can make a difference

anywhere. The truth is, starting a solo practice is challenging no matter what area

of law you choose. People need help in every area of law. They need your

expertise and education.

Last, in this process, I found a new love and commitment for my family. I found

joy in the luxury and flexibility of having my granddaughter crawl across my office

floor. I found balance in being able to travel to all of my son’s soccer games. I

found life – the way it was meant to be. And I will say this, as women, I do not

believe we can have it all, not all at the same time. I did sacrifice my path up the

career ladder with the six-figure salary to some extent. Yet, what I found was that

I could live on a smaller salary, and I could also provide some stability for my

family (which in the end, actually ends up saving you money in places you did not


So, how did I end up as a female lawyer in a field that is sometimes viewed as


Truth - It chose me. Life chose me. Family chose me. And I would not change a


The Law of Deborah E. Johnson, Esq. is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

For general information or to set up a consultation, email: [email protected]

You can also connect with Attorney Johnson on LinkedIn

*The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article or on this

profile page should be taken as legal advice for any individual, case, or situation. This information is not intended to create, and

receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. All rights Reserved. Copyright 2018.

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