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Many of us are incredibly passionate about arts and culture. But what’s stopping us from turning this passion into a career? In truth, the answer is very little.

If you’re a fan of cultural history and have a degree in an associated subject, then don’t be fooled. Being a curator isn’t the only career option that you have available to you, and being an art lawyer is incredibly viable.

Here, you can combine your love of culture with an interest in law or business (or even both). In this post, we take a look at the career options you could peruse and how you can take advantage of the opportunities available.

Can I Be an Art Lawyer?

As long as you have an associated degree, there’s very little stopping you from being an art lawyer. After all, being an “art lawyer” is a niche area to train in, so there’s no set training in place that you have to go through at undergrad level.

Having a law degree is a common way to get involved in art law. Most art lawyers usually begin by specializing in property, intellectual property, copyright, or tax law to begin with.

However, if art law is a particular passion, then you’ll eventually have to make the switch to a law firm with this specialism. This means that you’ll have to look for law firms like Withers with art-related clients. These can include arts in many forms, such as museums, galleries, or even private art investors.

You can also start by looking at law firms that are affiliated with the Institute of Art and Law. This can help show you where to potentially look to get employment.

How Can I Get the Edge over Other Candidates?

As it’s quite a niche occupation, art lawyer jobs are hotly contested. As a result, you must give yourself every possible advantage on your CV.

1. Experience

To give yourself the edge over other candidates, it’s wise to get exposure (or ideally experience) in both sectors of the job. This should include both a legal setting and in a gallery or museum.

Of course, these are not your only options and there are several others that you should explore depending on what you would like your specialism to be. 

For instance, if possible, you could combine the two experiences into one placement, such as in the legal department of large museums or galleries, or the legal department of an auction house.

Elsewhere, if you don’t want to work for a for-profit company, there are several charities you could pursue, such as Arts Council England, Historic England, or even the National Trust.

2. Knowledge

In addition to this, you should also make sure that you’re aware of what’s happening in the arts. This should include regularly reading journals like Museums Journal and Arts Professional. There are also great online resources like Clancco.

If you want to keep up on developments in the law as well, then also try lawcareers.net and thelawyer.com.

Remember though, knowledge isn’t just theoretical, it’s practical, too. As a result, you have to go and visit art galleries and studios. Likewise, you should buy art (as long as you like it). This will help you understand artists and their work.

3. Let Your Passion Shine Through

It may sound a little silly, but you should be doing this job because you’ll know that you love it, so let that shine through on your CV. Make sure it shines on your social media accounts as well – employers (and potential employers) will check these carefully.

Artists, in particular, will see right through you if you’re just trying to bluff and bluster your way through the process (especially if they’re paying you to represent them). This means that, if any of the above sounds boring to you – this probably isn’t the job for you.

As well as a love of art though, remember that you’ll need a love of law, too. You’ll still be a practicing lawyer at the end of the day, so you’ll need a love for both fields.

4. Show What You Can Bring to the Table

Finally, if several different art lawyers (or potential art layers) are applying for the same jobs, you need to consider what will make you stand out from the crowd.

So carefully consider what interests and experiences you have that can benefit these artists. But don’t just mention them, actively list them on your CV and make a concrete list of services that you can provide to your clients.

By being plain and transparent, you have the best chance of success.

Becoming an art lawyer is simpler than you would think. Ultimately, you’ll need an undergraduate (preferably in law), and specialize from there. But remember, the market is competitive, so ensure you stand out from the crowd.


Written By
Zak Goldberg is a Law & Business Graduate from the University of Leeds who has chosen to follow his aspirations of becoming a full-time published writer, offering his expertise on all areas of law and finance.

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