Friday, January 23, 2015

Event Planning: From a Legal Perspective

Despite all the planning and energy that goes into preparing for an event, event managers face a lot of surprises. What happens when the band doesn't show up to perform? What happens if the venue burns down? What happens if it rains on your wedding day? What happens if someone trips on the corner of the stage and falls face first onto their wine glass, breaking their glasses (true story)!? What if . . . . what if . . . what if!?

Good event planners take into consideration the potential for major disasters in addition to some of the common things that may go awry. If contingency strategies are in place, last minute decisions can be made more easily and problems are much more navigable. Attention to details up front can make a world of difference in managing potential curveballs.

Lawyers and event planners share similar goals in the sense that both must exhibit an ability to prevent and defuse explosive situations. Both jobs require analytical skills, creativity, interpersonal skills, logical thinking, flexibility, organization, passion, and time management among other traits. For many event managers, preparations begin with pre-planning, budgeting and booking, before focusing on food and beverage, audiovisual requirements, marketing and the like. From a legal perspective, however, successful event planning starts with identifying both the obvious and unforeseeable risks that may arise. This involves attention to basic contractual principles. Agreements must be negotiated and drafted, clearly defining the responsibilities of all parties in relation to the special event. A good contract will also address liability, insurance, and indemnity, and incorporate contingencies to address some of the potential crises mentioned above. Beyond contracting with staff, volunteers, performers, sponsors, venues, and contractors, event managers should obtain relevant licenses and permits, protect intellectual property, and comply with local, state and federal laws, etc. 

Now, this post has addressed some of the legal issues in the event industry, but it is important to note that the risks may vary depending on the type of event. For instance, there may be special considerations for those organizing a sport event, a nonprofit event, a promotional event, or a life event. Finding a lawyer who is familiar with the many nuances and intricacies of event planning is crucial to organizing a solid event and obtaining peace of mind throughout the event planning process. 


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