Thursday, February 12, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Farrah Usmani '12

Farrah Usmani is an associate at Marcus & Colvin, LLP, a Nashville-based entertainment law firm. Through Marcus & Colvin, she acts as an of-counsel “bridge” to the New York and Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm, Carroll, Guido & Groffman, LLP.  Her practice focuses exclusively on entertainment transactions; more specifically, she represents music talent. Farrah has made amazing strides in just a few short years and shares her insight with us here:

How did you obtain your first job out of law school?

Two words best describe how I got my first job out of law school: relentless networking.  A year before graduation, I began identifying all the places I thought would provide me with the most ideal jumpstart for a career in entertainment.  I did this by reading trade publications, and making notes of law firms and companies that looked like they were geared toward expansion and innovation.  From there, I spent lots of time figuring out how to get my resume into the hands of the people already working at those companies.

I had the most success by shamelessly asking for informational interviews.  (Something I learned is that people are much more willing to give you advice when you're still a student, and not yet their competition).  For the most part, people are happy to help, and they enjoy the opportunity to reflect on their experiences.  Informational interviews are a great way to get your name out there in a relaxed and conversational environment.  Each time I met with someone, I’d ask to be kept in mind if any new positions opened in his/her legal department.

A month after graduation, it paid off.  I was offered a job at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of Hollywood's top talent agencies.  I worked for the Executive of Business & Legal Affairs in CAA’s Music Department for two years before I transitioned into private practice.

Describe what led you to your current position. 

CAA and my current law firm share several clients; each represents talent in a different facet of the music industry.  I was introduced to the partners of my current firm while working together on a deal for Kings of Leon.  The firm was expanding at the same time I was looking to move into private practice, so it was a very organic transition.

What experiences/internships did you have that you found to be helpful or beneficial in your job search and career thus far?

During my 2L year, I wrote my seminar paper on privacy torts (7310 SEM: Advanced Torts); specifically, my topic addressed rights of publicity as applied to celebrity estates.  Taking this class opened a lot of doors for me.  While doing my research, I contacted a woman in Beverly Hills who is an expert in the field of celebrity rights management to see if she’d give me some insight about the topic.  This phone call turned into my first entertainment law internship.  Needless to say, I spent my 2L summer in L.A., which was a huge resume builder.  Choosing coursework that strategically demonstrated my interest in entertainment law, while not being afraid to take an internship outside of my home market was very helpful and beneficial in pitching myself to employers after graduation.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to current law students?

Network, network, network! Use your resources as a student to connect with professionals in your desired field, and ask as many questions as you can.  Take chances, and be willing to look outside your comfort zone for the right opportunity.

If you'd like to connect with Farrah to learn more about her career path, talk to your counselor in the Career Development Office.