Entertainment lawyer Julian Cordero ’14 struck gold recently when a hip hop album produced by one of his clients sold more than 500,000 copies, earning gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.
“This is my first gold album as an entertainment lawyer, so it’s a really big deal for me,” says Cordero, who did transactional work for three songs on the album, The Bigger Artist. “We’re hoping that it goes platinum soon.”
The album marks an impressive debut by Artist Dubose (stage name: A Boogie wit da Hoodie), a rapper, singer, and songwriter from the Bronx.
Cordero, a solo practitioner based in Manhattan, takes pride in watching his clients “make it” in New York’s competitive music scene. It reminds him of the years he spent building his solo practice, Cordero Law LLC, while working in a full-time in-house counsel role. After graduating from NYLS, Cordero worked at Goldman Sachs before joining a global communications company. In that role, he began laying the foundation for his solo practice.
“I didn’t sleep during that period, but it was fun,” he says. He juggled his growing client list from a coffee shop during his lunch hour and evenings. In 2017, he landed an account large enough for him to fully launch his firm.
Though Cordero is a classically trained musician and has served as a music producer for Grammy award-winning artists, his success in entertainment law came as a surprise to him. When he enrolled at NYLS, he planned to become a criminal lawyer and interned with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for a summer. He later pivoted to civil litigation and interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. When those career paths didn’t feel quite right, Cordero switched to corporate and intellectual property work, gaining experience in-house at Burberry and CBS. But it was a transactional law clinic in his 3L year that inspired him to think about starting his own firm.
“I realized that I really liked working one-on-one with clients,” he says.
Cordero says that the best part of his job is collaborating with small businesses and individual clients, especially up-and-coming musicians.
“With musicians, it’s not just about legal work; it’s also about education, since they may not necessarily know the business aspects of the industry,” he says. “It’s up to you as an entertainment lawyer to educate your clients in the music industry so that they can be in the best position to make a decision. Because of that, you become a go-to person for the musician.”
Cordero met one of his favorite clients when he was launching his firm and the client, a music producer, was also starting out.
“I wound up giving him a break on help with a contract,” Cordero says. “Now he owns four music studios and is one of the hottest music producers in New York. If I call him, he picks up right away, and vice versa. That’s why I like the music industry: You become invested in people.”
When Cordero was growing up on Long Island, his family struggled financially. Now that he’s successful, he’s proud to play a role in the success of others.
“I love the hip hop industry,” he says. “Other than the music, which I am a fan of, I love it because of what it represents. In hip hop, there are these themes of struggling and fighting your way to the top that time and time again are seen. You have to have a certain drive to make it. I emphasize with my clients because we both have that same drive.”