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August 27, 2007

Jennifer Justice: More Than a Pretty Face

woman smiling with wine
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Name: Jennifer Justice
Age: 30-something
Job: Music-industry lawyer
Location: New York City
Notable Quote: "Music crosses all borders. It is the ultimate inspiration."

The daughter of a single welfare mother, Jennifer Justice grew up in Washington state during the grunge craze. Today, she is the youngest partner at the entertainment law firm Carroll, Guido & Groffman, representing clients like Jay-Z and Method Man. How did she get from there to here? Marie Claire talked with Justice about beating the odds.

Q: So what exactly do you do?
A: My job is to know everything about the musicians we represent and what they want in life. I go to all the shows, become friends with them. In this business, you have to be able to do the smart-lawyer thing, but also be the person who can hang with Velvet Revolver and have that je ne sais quoi. You can’t be intimidated and you can’t be starstruck — or, the other way around, you can’t think that these singers are a bunch of idiots. You have to be able to move between worlds effortlessly, and my background has helped me do that.

Q: Meaning?
A: I grew up as one of three kids to a teenage mom. My mother was so young when she had me that now I have friends her age. I knew that I never wanted to be like that — dependent on men and welfare to get by. So I did well in school, went to college, then got a scholarship to Cornell Law School.

Q: It’s a big leap from welfare to where you are now.
A: Actually, a lot of my clients come from the same background as I do. There’s a lot of insecurity in growing up poor. My clients want guidance. And they know that I’m here to look after their business assets.

Q: What’s the coolest thing about being a music lawyer?
A: I don’t need two separate outfits for my job and my life — we’re not the corporate suit types! But seriously, I love that, as a music lawyer, I stand for someone’s ideas; I’m representing an art form. As a corporate lawyer, you often don’t stand for anything.

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