Adia May, an Iowa Law alum, held a video conference on Friday, February 19, to speak about her practice as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles. May graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2001, and began her legal career as a corporate associate for a Chicago firm. Practicing corporate law helped May realize that her dream job involved working in the entertainment law industry, and in 2003 she left Chicago to pursue her dream in Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, May began working as a contract attorney and pounding the pavement in search for opportunities. Eventually, she landed a job handling residuals claims with the Screen Actors Guild. May explained that it wasn't a glamorous job, but it allowed her to learn about the structure of and players in the entertainment business. In 2009, May founded Zuri Entertainment, L.L.C., where she provided business and legal services to filmmakers, talent, and nonprofit organizations.

She currently operates her own firm in Los Angeles, the Law Office of Adia Z. May, P.C., where she handles entertainment and sports law transactions for clients.

May’s journey to her dream job revolved around strong communication and networking skills, which helped her build a strong client base in Los Angeles. She repeatedly stressed the importance of volunteer work early in the career; volunteering allows junior attorneys to make critical contacts in the entertainment business and to show their abilities. 

Andrew Stanley, a UI Law student who attended the event on Friday, found it “particularly enlightening” to hear about the steps May had to take to get to where she is now.

“[May’s experiences] gave me an idea of how I need to proceed if I wanted to become an entertainment lawyer myself,” Stanley said. “I also took away the importance of being genuine and friendly with people — good social skills are incredibly important in that industry.”

When she is not providing legal services for her clients, May works with Howardwood, a nonprofit organization she co-founded to bridge the gap between Howard University students and entertainment professionals. May also produces content for film and television. 

To view upcoming IBL events and speakers, click here.

Katrina Do | February 23, 2016