What is your specialty as a lawyer in the arts?
I am the owner and principal attorney at The Law Office of Elektra B. Yao.
I run a immigration law practice, and I represent all types of artists, including: performers, chefs, fashion designers, jewelry designers, directors, producers, musicians, performers, writers, and more! I help artists secure their temporary artists visas and their green cards based on their extraordinary ability in the arts. My own artistic background in film, TV, and theatre gives me a unique perspective and assists me in understanding the artists that I represent.
What shaped your career and artistic path?
I have always been very active in the arts. For 10 years I studied and performed musical theatre in NYC before expanding into TV and documentary filmmaking. I worked in production at MTV, and The Style Network and produced and directed two documentary films which were screened in Austin, TX and NYC. After working behind the scenes, I attended Lewis and Clark Law School, a nationally ranked, top-tier law school, and I knew that I wanted to work as a lawyer in an international capacity.
Given my strong background in the arts, I knew that I wanted to work with artists and support their work in a meaningful and life-changing way. I chose to specialize my practice in the entertainment industry because I simply love art. By representing international, in my way, I am enriching the cultural and artistic landscape of the US.
Tell me about your art.
I develop my clients’ portfolios and represent them against USCIS to prove their extraordinary ability and the level of distinction they have reached in their field.
Being a lawyer is not strictly an art form, but there is definitely an art to architecting a petition.
My job is t translate their artistry and their artistic achievements in a meaningful way so that USCIS will be compelled to approve them. Just as my artist clients tell stories with their artworks, my job as their lawyer is not only to tell their story, but to zealously advocate for them so they can continue their artistic narrative in the US.
Creative analysis is a tool that I use daily as an attorney representing artists. I’m in a unique position, because I understand and have direct experience with the creative process, therefore I can extrapolate the meaning and importance of my clients’ artworks. My artistic background allows me to strategically craft a strong petition to USCIS to secure the O-1 artist visa and Green Cards for clients. It’s exciting and rewarding to represent artists and to utilize my problem solving and creative analysis skills
What are some previous clients you have worked with?
I’ve worked with performers, singers, dancers, jewelry designers, textile designers, fashion designers, scenic, graphic, chefs, visual artists, writers, PR professionals, and producers! My client base consists of a large cross-section of professionals in the arts that has continued to expand.
I have worked with artists from South Korea, Germany, Italy, France, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and many other countries.
What is the future of the arts industry and why do artists need a lawyer more than ever?
The future of the arts industry is more artists being empowered to have creative control over their livelihood, and more international artists infusing their traditions from their cultural origins into the U.S. arts industry. Now more than ever, artists need to protect their art and their livelihood and lawyers such as myself help to make their security into a reality.