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As a young, aspiring musician, James Elam dreamed of attending the Grammy Awards. While that dream came true last Wednesday night, it most likely wasn’t in the capacity he originally envisioned. Elam, an associate at Dilworth Paxson, represents Philadelphia songstress Jill Scott, who was nominated for three Grammys. Though she didn’t win an award, Scott received one of the few standing ovations of the night when she performed “Natural Blues” with Moby and the Blue Man Group. Speaking from Los Angeles the day after he attended the awards show to root on his client, Elam said that more than half of his corporate practice is now consumed by entertainment law. Scott is clearly his highest profile client, but he said he is also working with some up-and-coming Philadelphia artists. “Music has always been such a huge part of my life,” Elam said. “When I was younger, I used to be active with DJ-ing and writing music. It’s just great to be involved with an industry that I love.” A 1992 graduate of the University of Delaware, Elam formed a local music production company before deciding that he wanted to pursue the business end of the industry. And to do that, he felt he needed to go to law school. Upon graduating from Widener University Law School in 1997, Elam joined Dilworth as an associate. During his interview, he told partners that in addition to the litigation work that the firm was hiring him to perform, he wanted to start an entertainment law practice. He eventually switched from litigation to corporate work, thinking it would mesh better with the entertainment work. “I wanted to go to a firm that would let me pursue this, and Dilworth was very entrepreneurial when I brought the idea [of starting an entertainment practice] to them,” Elam said. “Because of their help, I am where I am today. [The entertainment law practice] started as a small part of my practice and has just grown tremendously.” Elam began representing Scott two years ago, although the two have known each other since childhood because the singer attended school with Elam’s younger brother. When the two first began working together, Scott was just getting started. The first order of business for any artist is to get a record deal. Elam successfully negotiated one with Hidden Beach Records, a sub-label of Epic Records. “At that point, you just try and make sure the artist’s house is in order,” Elam said. “You just want to give them the framework of something they can live with and make sure that they are being treated fairly.” While Scott co-wrote last year’s Grammy-winning song “You Got Me” by Philadelphia rappers The Roots, she began laying the foundation for her first album, aptly titled “Who Is Jill Scott,” released this past summer to glowing reviews. Only six months later, Scott was nominated for three Grammys — Best New Artist, Best R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Album. Elam said all the Grammy hype has led to his phone ringing off the hook, with people in the entertainment industry looking to jump on the Scott bandwagon. “I’ve been negotiating all sorts of contracts,” Elam said. “People want to use her stuff on [movie] soundtracks, compilations … . ‘Ally McBeal’ has talked to us, and we’re talking about her going out on tour with Sting starting in May.” The increase in business comes as Elam is taking on another time-consuming responsibility — chair of the young lawyers division of the Philadelphia Bar Association, which gives him an automatic seat on the association’s board of governors. “The YLD stuff almost came about by accident,” Elam said. “I did some work coaching mock trial teams and started spending time with the YLD people through that. I still don’t know how I became chair, but I really enjoy it. I’ve met so many people and learned so much.” The challenge for Elam now is finding time to balance his corporate and entertainment practice with his bar association work, especially after the buzz created by Scott’s Grammy performance. “It was the longest standing ovation of the night,” said Elam, who was sitting about 10 rows behind the night’s big winners, Steely Dan. “We’re disappointed that she didn’t win anything but the performance could prove to be even bigger for her. A perfect example is Ricky Martin [who gave a much-talked about performance at the 1999 Grammys.] He went on to sell millions of records after that. “Jill is in such demand now. She’s one of the hottest artists in Hollywood. As far as me being in demand now, I’m at the point where I can’t accept any more clients. I’m on the phone for several hours each day. [Talking to clients on the phone] takes up more time than actually producing the documents but that’s what you have to do to make the practice work. I’m just relishing it all right now.”

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