Shelagh: Hi my name is Shelagh Carnegie and I'm a partner at Gowling WLG. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to our dynamic and always fabulous -
Susan Abramovitch. She's a partner at Gowling WLG and the head of our entertainment and sports law group. Welcome Susan.
Susan: Thank you Shelagh. Thank you so much for agreeing to be my interviewer.
Shelagh: Ah, my pleasure. You are regarded as one of the world's leading entertainment lawyers. Why did you choose this path in the first place?
Susan: You know, I always knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a lawyer I enjoyed law school but I also enjoyed the arts. I trained as a kid on piano pretty seriously and once I got into law school I started to think well I am enjoying the law but wouldn't it be fun to meld together my love of the law with my love of other industries or facts or people that I enjoy as well and so it sort of came to that and I slowly but surely decided you know what it would be so great to be an entertainment lawyer whatever that is if I can break in and little did I know that it wouldn't be so easy to get in there.
Shelagh: The entertainment bar is notoriously hard to break into. What was your strategy for cracking the code?
Susan: I got out of law school and I said I want to be an entertainment lawyer and I thought at the time what you did was you sent your resume you made it look good, you applied anonymously and everybody would want to hire you and that might have been true of traditional law firms but it was much less true of the entertainment bar and the entertainment industry and so I always had to come up with plan b's because I kept getting rejected but luckily my plan b's were kind of exciting and I had more success with them. So my first plan b was to clerk at the Supreme Court from there you know I worked hard diligently in New York and Paris and I said that's it. I repatriate myself to Canada and I only will accept a job in the entertainment industry now I will not take no for an answer and I did the tour of Toronto and all of a sudden low and behold having this experience under my belt whether it's the you know international experience, or the corporate commercial. A few years as an associate with good training from these firms, the entertainment industry was much more open to me.
Shelagh: Now your practice spans the full gamut of various entertainment and sports industries, was the expansion of your practice intentional as well?
Susan: And so the entertainment industries started to converge on each other and I woke up one morning with an epiphany that all entertainment media was going to converge into one thing and that one thing was going to be a video game and so I had to become a video game lawyer but not just a video game lawyer, a film lawyer, a tv lawyer, book publishing, fine arts and so I did.
Shelagh: You're entering your 30th year of practice although you'd never know it to look at you.
Susan: Thank you.
Shelagh: So how do you describe your approach after all these years to working with clients?
Susan: So my approach definitely has morphed over the years but I'm very happy to say that what my approach is now is I like to connect with my clients uh personally and I spend a lot of time doing that less so during the pandemic but I certainly try to have drinks and dinner and lunches with them and I want to learn about what I call the 360 of them. You know just because they make music, doesn't mean they don't have other hopes and dreams and problems and families and background and history, that all feeds into their art and where what they are aiming for and what's important to them. You know when I do a review a contract a recording agreement let's say, you know it will be a different markup depending on who the client is not just because of their level of success but also because different things are important to different people and so to know what's important to your clients i really feel it's important to connect and learn that 360 of who they are so that's my approach. I do have another question about serving your clients.
Shelagh: You've been at all kinds of different firms in terms of size. Gowling WLG is a global law firm with offices around the world how does that help you in serving your clients?
Susan: That international platform the entertainment contracts the entertainment bar really have to juggle contracts from all over the world and yes there's sometimes specific legal issues in the jurisdiction where you need local advice but a lot of it is also about industry standards and how things work and how the players in the industries work and so uh my practice has always been global my clientele has always been global and so I had that you know before Gowling WLG went global but as soon as it did it was the best thing for me because now I have colleagues not just contacts in every jurisdiction i still have those but now I have colleagues and partners for example last year I had a large M&A transaction big big news in the music industry that involved uh the acquisition of targets in Quebec, Holland and France and I was able to pull together all kinds of resources across our global platform to help, you know all on the same page, of Gowling WLG.
Shelagh: Thank you so much Susan this was so much fun and my pleasure.
Susan: I really enjoy working with you as well so thank you for doing this.