Bridging Artistry and Advocacy: Julia Holt, Esquire

A lifelong musician, this New Orleans native turned her performance career toward advocacy in the arts by specializing in entertainment law.

In the vibrant city of New Orleans, where music and culture intertwine, Julia Holt stands as a dynamic force at the intersection of art and law. A native of the region, Julia’s journey from a musically inclined upbringing to becoming an attorney and entrepreneur is a testament to her resilience, creativity, and commitment to helping others protect their ideas.

Julia’s artistic journey began at a young age – she wrote her first song when she was only eight.

“My family friends are all musical,” she says. “When my mom was pregnant with me and would attend jam sessions, I’d start kicking if they stopped playing. Later, my family would have competitions every Christmas to see who could give the loudest gift to the kids – one year I got a drum set, I think I was the clear winner. But I always gravitated to the piano.”

Since Julia’s father and uncle founded multiple record labels and her father was a pioneer in the Southern rap genre, even as a toddler, Julia was immersed in the music production industry, surrounded by music and performers. Top hip-hop artists from the popular label Cash Money hung out and performed in the family living room on a regular basis.

Surrounded by her artistic family and growing up in New Orleans, Julia found plenty of opportunities to immerse herself in various artistic mediums – from theater to film (she has dozens of IMDb credits) to showcasing her talents in piano and vocal performances. Her roots in jazz piano at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) laid the foundation for a musical journey that would ultimately shape her career.

Entering the Music Industry Studies program at Loyola, Julia aimed not only to hone her artistic abilities but also to understand the business side of the music industry. Little did she know that her path would lead her to a career in law.

“I pursued music industry studies just to get a foundation for the business side of everything,” says Holt. The turning point came when a mentor stole one of her ideas, sparking her interest in legal protection.

“I was feeling helpless, like I couldn’t stand up for myself,” she remembers. “I didn’t want other people to be stuck in the same position I was in. I needed a way to advocate for other people.”

Although some advised that she should choose either entertainment or law, her cousin, the late Bill Luckett, encouraged her not to limit herself. His own life provided her with an excellent example: Luckett was co-owner – with Morgan Freeman – of the famous Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, while he also had successful careers as an actor, film producer and entertainment lawyer.

So after obtaining her degree in Music Industry Studies, Business, and Film, Julia continued on at Loyola – earning both an M.B.A. and her J.D. from their College of Law (2021). She also holds a Certificate in Entertainment Law and Industry from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law (2022).

As both a musician and an attorney, Julia Holt is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges faced by those in the creative industry. Her focus on intellectual property (IP) law allows her to guide individuals, small businesses, startups, and burgeoning non-profits in protecting their ideas and navigating the complexities of the entertainment and arts landscape.

“Musicians still have to manage their own brand, their own business. They can’t expect some big company will come in and do everything for them.”

Breaking with tradition, Julia started her own law practice shortly after graduation, a testament to her determination and refusal to wait for opportunities to come to her. Her firm, Julia Holt Law, launched in March 2022, reflects her commitment to providing accessible and tailored legal services to the artistic and business communities she holds dear.

Her company website gives her an additional platform to help educate creatives in all fields and offers articles like “The Pros and Cons of Trademarking your Band Name,” “Legal Considerations for Self-Releasing a Music Album” and “Retaining Ownership of your Music Video.” She was also featured on a recent episode of Law Insider’s Contract Teardown, discussing one of superstar Cardi B’s licensing agreements. And in November, she facilitated a free local workshop, “Financial Planning for Musicians.” She’s planning more of these community educational offerings for 2024.

Despite her successful law career, Julia remains connected to her musical side. She’s still writing music, but hasn’t shared it with listeners lately.

“I have not performed in a while, but I have recurring dreams about it,” she admits. “I need to make space for it again.”

Her love for live music certainly hasn’t faded as she often frequents local venues like Tipitina’s, Maple Leaf, and Snug Harbor. “I like to see the musicians I went to school with.” Her favorite musicians, including the bands Slugger and Naughty Professor and John Michael Bradford and Ashlin Parker continue to inspire her.

“I also go to Bayou Bar a lot,” she says. “It’s always really chill, but it always has the most thrilling musicians like pianist Oscar Rossignoli, Peter Harris and Jamison Ross.”

Julia’s dual identity as both a musician and attorney allows her to bring a unique perspective to her work. Whether advising on contracts, protecting intellectual property, or fostering new talent, Julia remains a trailblazer dedicated to helping others navigate the intricacies involved in creative businesses.

“When I’m in a consultation and a client is telling me their idea – what they hope to accomplish – I hear their excitement. Then I see them get this enormous sense of relief when they learn their ideas can become reality. It’s the best feeling.”

*Article originally published December 2023 in the French Quarter Journal

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