Loren Cheri Shokes received her J.D. from Harvard Law School (2017), her B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles (2013), and is the author of Life After Death: How to Protect Artists’ Post-Mortem Rights, 9 Harv. J. Sports & Ent. L. 27 and Note, Financing Music Labels in the Digital Era of Music: Live Concerts and Streaming Platforms, 7 Harv. J. Sports & Ent. L. 134. Loren is also a former JSEL Executive Board Member and Interviewer.
In an upcoming series of articles, Loren assesses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the music, fashion, sports, and entertainment industries from a legal, business, and financial perspective. You can read the music issue, Pandemic Pop and Other Viral Sensations, by clicking on the hyperlink and you can view the intro at the bottom of the interview. Keep checking back here for later articles in the series!
JSEL caught up with Loren to learn more “About the Author.”
Let’s start with your time at Harvard, during which, at various points, you worked at Sony Music Entertainment, the NFL, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Can you tell us a little bit about those positions?
I worked in Sony Music Entertainment, the NFL, and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ respective legal departments while I was a student at Harvard and each was an absolutely wonderful experience. I had the unique opportunity to draft and negotiate various master agreements, attend meetings with well-known artists, and have behind-the-scenes access to some of the biggest events in sports and entertainment. I cannot speak highly enough of my time at each organization.
We understand you’re multi-talented–percussionist, golfer, figure skater. Are those the kinds of activities and interests you had when you were younger that sparked your interest in sports & entertainment law, or was it something else?
Thank you for such a lovely compliment! I began figure skating when I was four years old, I started playing the drums, congas, and percussion bells when I was eleven years old, and I was varsity captain of my high school golf team. My father is a sports physician and I grew up attending a host of different types of sporting events, including football games where my father was the team physician as well as the Olympic trials for men’s volleyball where my father was on the medical team. Although my interest in sports medicine began to wane when I was in college, my love of sports never subsided and shifted more towards the business and legal side of that industry.
With respect to entertainment, I have always loved music and one of my fondest memories of my time at HLS is being a member of Harvard’s Recording Artists Project. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to have the opportunity to work alongside fellow musicians and Berklee College of Music students on various legal matters.
You’ve mentioned that when you were younger you did not envision becoming a lawyer. What was your dream job when you were younger? Or, at least, when you were in high school or college, what kind of path did you see for yourself?
When I was younger I thought I was going to be a surgeon like my father. One of my earliest art projects as a child was constructing an orthopedic cast using my father’s casting materials. It was not until I was in college when I found myself being drawn more toward business and legal-focused classes and activities rather than science and medicine. I also explored many other industries as well prior to entering law school – I was a congressional intern for U.S. Representative Ed Royce when he was Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and I also interned at one of the most well-renowned public relations companies in Beverly Hills.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role and the work at Simpson Thacher that you do?
I am a corporate and intellectual property attorney at Simpson Thacher, and in my short tenure I’ve worked on matters in virtually every department at the firm – from M&A to capital markets to banking and credit to IP litigation, I’ve basically seen it all. And no two days are ever identical; it’s not atypical for me to work on 10 different matters one day and the next day work on another 10 entirely separate matters. There’s rarely a dull moment and that’s what I love about this profession; I’m constantly learning something new.
Have you worked on any sports/entertainment-related matters?
Yes, that’s a large part of my work.
What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on since joining the firm?
Oh that’s such a difficult question! I think that one of my most meaningful ongoing projects is my pro bono work assisting up-and-coming and oftentimes minority entrepreneurs and small business owners with various legal and business matters. I am incredibly cognizant of how privileged I am to be employed during this pandemic when so many people are facing devastating economic losses, and I strive to dedicate a few hours each week to helping these highly motivated entrepreneurs establish their businesses and make them thrive.
While I knew going into law school that I wanted to work in the entertainment, sports, and/or fashion industries, to be the best advocate for my clients I knew that I had to have a strong foundation in corporate law, litigation, and various niche areas of law and I wanted to gain as much exposure to as many practice areas as possible as a young attorney. My advice to law students, particularly those who do not know what they want to do upon graduation or where they want to spend their summer internships, is to attend as many discussions and lectures as possible (and do so virtually during this pandemic!) to learn from the experts in their respective fields, take classes that are outside of your comfort zone whether they’re at the law school, business school, or any of the other graduate schools, and also expand your social circle and talk to students outside of your section and class year.
This article series focuses on the impact of the pandemic on the music, fashion, and sports & entertainment industries. Can you give us a sample of what we should expect in each of the upcoming pieces?
To a certain degree I feel as though the world was an entirely different place when I first envisioned what I wanted to discuss in this series a few months ago, and I suspect that a few months from now the world will be vastly different from today. While my overall vision for this series has evolved over the past few months, my underlying goal remains the same: I want to showcase how these industries are so much more than merely a means of entertainment for the masses. From the headliner athletes to the lawyers that draft and negotiate recording agreements to the stadium concession stand workers to the truck drivers that crisscross the country transporting concert stages to their next venue, thousands of peoples’ livelihoods are entirely dependent upon the success of these industries. I hope that after reading each piece and also taking a holistic view of the series, readers gain a greater appreciation for each industry’s cultural and economic significance.
For the prospective reader of your series, what big themes should they be looking for in your articles? For the future reader that has completed reading your series, what should their big lesson or takeaway be?
I think the answer to both questions is the same – hope for the best but plan for the worst! When the coronavirus had its first surge in the U.S. in early spring, it was nearly impossible to fathom that just a few months later we would crown a new NBA champion after having a spirited playoff series. It was an extraordinary effort by all those involved, united by a desire to help proffer some sense of pre-coronavirus normalcy while also safeguarding peoples’ health and safety. I am continuously amazed by the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of those in the music, entertainment, and sports industries and how they have readily adapted to this new normal despite unprecedented roadblocks.
What was your motivation for writing this series?
In early 2020 when Italy’s prime minister implemented a national lockdown confining millions to their homes, it was the power of music that fostered a sense of pride not only as Italians but as global citizens united in a fight to defeat an invisible enemy. Whether it was an impromptu rooftop concert, a planned balcony sing-along or a friendly dance-off between neighbors, it was uplifting to see people of all ages staying connected while not being able to physically be together.
While we live in a hyper-connected world due to globalization and social media, I questioned what people did before the Internet to stay entertained during prior global health crises, and I found that there was a dearth of literature on how previous pandemics influenced and shaped society from a music, sports, and overall cultural standpoint. Virtually every aspect of daily life for all people throughout the globe has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and I think it’s important to chronicle how these industries in particular have been affected.
I also want the series to be a form of entertainment and I’ve tried to include something for everyone. The music article in particular covers a wide range of genres of music from classical to K-pop to country to heavy metal and various subgenres including Spanish-Arabic trap.
Thank you so much for your time, Loren. We look forward to reading and sharing your writing.
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me! I hope you enjoy the series!
Pandemic Pop and Other Viral Sensations
Narrating finding ephemeral solace in the carnal embrace of an innominate face, British crooner Sam Smith’s sultry tenor seamlessly oscillates with American Normani’s vocal prowess on 2019’s viral sensation Dancing With A Stranger. With its infectious instrumentation coalescing with its euphonic chorus as the vocalists achingly beseech for a cursory reprieve of their acute loneliness, the R&B-pop fusion topped music charts on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby earning the coveted, albeit unofficial, title of 2019’s song of the summer. The slightly veiled euphemisms that permeate the ballad require no explication and quickly resonated with listeners as they thronged to bustling nightclubs to indulge in its intrinsic edict. Unbeknownst to the revelers, within fifteen months, another infectious, viral sensation would prompt heads of state on both sides of the Atlantic to supplicate individuals to both literally and figuratively eschew dancing with strangers and instead espouse a phrase propagated just a few years earlier by Normani’s former quintet – work from home.
First identified as an epidemiological threat in late 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), known more commonly by its colloquial moniker “Coronavirus,” is a highly contagious respiratory illness that causes the potentially deadly disease Covid-19. Bringing a synchronized interruption to global economic activity that has not been seen since the Great Depression, this highly transmittable illness quickly disabused investors’ bullish expectations with fears of a “protracted malaise that has some flavour of a depression,” driving global stocks plunging into bear-market territory even before the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. Harnessing omnipotent powers not drawn upon since World War II in their endeavor to subjugate a “faceless,…raceless, sexless, nondenominational, and bipartisan” foe, by March 2020, governments around the world mandated the indefinite closure of venues envisaged for the public to constellate, including the once seething discotheques, as gatherings of as few as two individuals were banned. Rather than dancing with strangers into a new roaring twenties, the start of 2020 marshaled in the social distancing era of “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
This is the first in a series of articles that will analyze and discuss the Coronavirus pandemic’s pervasive influence on the entertainment and sports industries. In this edition, I will examine how, concomitant with the obstacles and disruptions this pandemic has brought to practically all facets of daily life, this virus has upended virtually every aspect of the music industry, from the high profile (and highly profitable) music festivals to the event staff, tour managers, and countless others now facing an indefinite unemployment period.
 Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu, Johns Hopkins Medicine (September 25, 2020), https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu (explaining that Covid-19 is more contagious than influenza).
 Rich Miller & Reade Pickert, Top Economists See Echoes of Depression in U.S. Sudden Stop, Bloomberg (Mar. 22, 2020, 7:00 AM) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-22/top-economists-see-some-echoes-of-depression-in-u-s-sudden-stop.
 Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey), Twitter (Mar. 17, 2020, 5:26 PM), https://twitter.com/McConaughey/status/1240026783975530501.
 Public Health Guidance for Potential COVID-19 Exposure Associated with International or Domestic Travel, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Sept. 14, 2020), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.