Roads Less Traveled
Latino entertainment paralegal makes musical waves
Published on LatinoLA: March 31, 2004
At only 27 years old, Michael Rojas, Jr., has a long list of credits including musician, business entrepreneur and paralegal. Growing up in Los Angeles with a father famous in the Latin music world, drummer, Mike Rojas, Sr., it was only natural Rojas would be interested in a career as a musician. At the same time, something about the legal profession was calling him. Perhaps law symbolized the values for equality and fairness Rojas? father instilled in him as child. ?He [my father] developed a campaign for the rights of Hispanic musicians,? he said. ?I grew up writing petitions to get Latin music on the airways in the ?70 and ?80s. I had that embedded in my mind: work smart, not hard, to get your fair share.?
Getting his fair share and making sure others do as well is Rojas? goal and one of the reasons he decided to become a paralegal. In 1996, after earning his associate paralegal degree from Phillips College in Van Nuys, Calif., and working for attorney Bruce Goldberg, Rojas opened his own paralegal firm, Legal Justice For All. ?He [Goldberg] was my mentor for four-and-a-half years. He basically encouraged me to start a program to assist people in basic legal work. It was so successful it ranked in the top 100 Hispanic businesses for three years in a row,? he said.
To get his business on Hispanic Magazine?s Hispanic Entrepreneur 100 listing in 1997, 1998 and 1999, Rojas first got the name of his company out to attorneys by placing advertisements touting the freelance paralegal services his company provides. ?I saw the need for limited and fast, temp work,? he said. ?A lot of times, attorneys don?t need a full-time paralegal. They hire me for specific things and pay me an hourly rate or in blocks of time. It?s more economical for a solo attorney to hire me on a case-by-case basis rather than hire full-time legal assistants with salaries, benefits and insurance.?
The business took off quickly, but Rojas has kept his operation small. Although he has hired a few assistants, Rojas does all the legal research himself.
Extending his paralegal services further, Rojas represents entertainers and musicians through his music production and marketing company, Ace Productions Entertainment Group. ?Music and legal work came hand in hand,? he said. ?I prepare management agreements, license agreements and distribution agreements. I do the legal research and prepare the legal documents for attorneys to review, and they put their stamp of approval on it.?
Rojas was nominated for the Small Business Administration ?Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1997, and that same year was the executive producer for the ?Sopa De Ritmo? (Rhythm Soup) album, which sold more than 300,000 copies and received nine Grammy nominations. Rojas is currently focused on a new Latin band comprised of four teenage boys recently signed with the label USC Records and Tapes. The band, called Kreacion De Mentes (Creation of the Mind), will release its first album in March.
Relating to musicians is easy for Rojas, not only because he grew up around them, but also because he is a hip-hop artist who has released two albums of his own under the name Criminal Ace. ?I fight for the rights of injustice,? Rojas said.
The fight for equality and a better future was on Rojas? mind when he started a program called Down with Peace, backed by the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Down with Peace is a motivational campaign that brings recording artists to juvenile detention centers to encourage the kids who are locked up to stay out of trouble and stay in school. ?It gives them a little motivation,? Rojas said.
Even though he is just one man, Rojas is determined to continue the fight to bring everyone their fair share. He currently is deciding his next step professionally, which will include either going back to school to get his master?s degree in business or his juris doctorate to become an attorney. In the end, Rojas hopes to follow in the footsteps of one of his role models, Ruben Blades. Blades is a Harvard graduate, musician, actor, political activist and lawyer. ?He is one of my heroes,? Rojas said.
Rachel Campbell is a staff writter for the national distributed mag. Legal Assistant Today. She focused on Michael Rojas Jr. due to his outstanding achievements in the Latin oCommunity.