LAW – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in Law.
Jakgeem Mays (THF ’08)
Chief Executive Officer & Managing Attorney
What do you enjoy most about your company? As the Owner and Managing Attorney at my firm, I have the freedom to work on matters that interest me and the privilege of giving back—by hiring interns who aspire to practice entertainment law.
In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started? I have been in the entertainment industry for most of my adult life. I started out as a songwriter/producer, however the necessity of learning the business aspect of the entertainment business led me to entertainment law as a second career.
Has your career path been linear or non-linear? Non-linear. I graduated from NYU with a Bachelor of Music (Music, Business, and Technology) and initially worked on the creative and business sides of the industry. I fell into finance with stints at Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and prior to law school, I was a corporate accountant at Ted Turner’s Restaurant (Ted’s Montana Grill). I decided to go to law school and re-enter the entertainment industry -this time focusing on film/TV, which I continue to focus on to this day.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career? The T. Howard Foundation afforded me my first paid law school internship (1L Summer) at Twentieth Century FOX at a time when internships were still mostly unpaid opportunities.
What personal attributes have been essential to your career success? Persistence, attention to detail, and stepping out of my comfort zone to become a good networker. As a former boss advised me, “cream rises to the top”.
Are you extroverted or introverted? How does this show up in your professional life and how has this trait benefited you professionally? My friends and family will dispute this, but I’m an introvert! I am much more comfortable at home alone and dread being in public spaces. Early in my career, Queen Latifah gave me great advice during a studio session for one of her albums, “If you’re trying to get on, you need to learn to speak up.” I figured out a way to make my “adapted personality” more social, which has worked wonders in my career development.
Jakgeem’s Piece of Advice: Stay the course and develop as many relationships as you can—you never know where your next opportunity will come from. Learn and master the job you’re currently in and/or want to be in. Don’t take “No” for an answer – you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Most importantly, understand that while the entertainment industry is social, it is WORK. Get your work done, manage your brand, and develop and maintain a good reputation.