Introducing Our New "Ask The Festival Lawyer" Column

Article by: The Festival Lawyer|@FestivalLawyer

Wed June 10, 2015 | 00:00 AM

This week, we're happy to announce the start of a new weekly column, “Ask the Festival Lawyer,” appearing on the site each Wednesday. The Festival Lawyer , also known as Cameron Bowman, will offer festival-related legal tips from questions you submit each week, so you can stay out of trouble and have a blast. We thought a good way to kick things off would be for us to ask a few questions of the Festival Lawyer ourselves.

Okay, let’s start with the obvious, what is a “Festival Lawyer” anyway?

My name is Cameron Bowman. I am a criminal defense attorney with the Bay Area firm of VIB Law. Before working as a defense attorney, I was a Deputy District Attorney for Santa Clara County for many years.

At the same time, I’ve always been a huge fan of live music and music festivals. I’ve been a college radio DJ and a drummer, and briefly thought of trying to make a career in music before going to law school.

A few years ago, I started writing under the name, “The Festival Lawyer” so that I could combine these two passions (Law and Music) in one place. The idea behind the “Ask the Festival Lawyer” column is to talk about legal issues affecting the festival community and to give legal and practical advice that will make people safer, more responsible festival-goers.

What kind of legal topics will you cover in this column?

All types of legal questions and issues come up at music festivals. What are you rights if a police officer stops you on the way to a festival? Will you get in trouble for bringing a friend to a medical tent who is overdosing? What does the law say about consent when it comes to drugs and alcohol and sex? What type of a search is allowed when it says “I consent to be searched” on my ticket?

Basically any type of legal issue involving the festival community is fair game. But more than anything, the column will be focused on how we can make the festival community work better for everyone by being more informed, more responsible festival-goers.


Photo by: The Festival Lawyer

Your Facebook page lists the “Festival Lawyer” as a fictional character. What gives?

Like I always say, “Although the Festival Lawyer is a lawyer he is not YOUR lawyer.” The idea of the column is to give general information about legal topics, NOT legal advice. The law is complex, varies a great deal from state to state, and each factual situation is different. It’s basically impossible to give legal advice on a topic.

To make this clear, I intentionally made “The Festival Lawyer” a fictional character. I mean, do you really think it is a good idea to get your legal advice from a fictional character? I encourage people to think of the Festival Lawyer more like a legal spirit guide, encouraging you to educate and inform yourself.

Okay, but I don’t go to any EDM Festivals. And when I said I was looking for “Molly” I was really just looking for my friend who is actually named Molly. So I don’t have to know my rights, do I?

It’s true that EDM festivals have been the focus of a lot scrutiny when it comes to police and security at events. Some recent EDM festivals have really ramped up their security in an effort to be perceived as “zero tolerance” drug events. For example, security was so tight at last year’s Electric Zoo that the New York Post referred to it as a “Day Glo North Korea.”

But really, it’s not just EDM shows or “Kandi Kids” who are interacting with police at music festivals. Last year, I had a group of Phish fans on the East Coast write me to tell me about an incident where police walked up and down the hallway of their hotel randomly opening doors and searching anyone they thought was attending the concert. I had fans traveling to Summer Camp Music Festival tell me that police were stopping motorists on the way to the festival and bringing in a drug dog to search anyone who admitted Summer Camp was their destination. I’ve had fans at different festivals tell me they were “groped” by security entering a venue. Bad interactions with the police can happen at any time to anyone.

Outside Lands

Photo by: The Festival Lawyer

Are you suggesting that EVERY Festival goer benefits by knowing their rights?

It is ABSOLUTELY in your best interest to know your rights even if you never plan on doing anything illegal. The reality is that the law is very unforgiving on these issues. The expression, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” happens to be very true. In most cases, the law requires you to know your rights and to SPEAK UP at the time. If you don’t, your rights are waived.

Okay you’ve convinced me. How do I send you a question?

To send me a question, email me at For the next two weeks I am going to give you a crash course on knowing your “Festival Law Rights” After that, I’ll be picking two or three questions to answer weekly.

Last question. Were you serious about that “Festival legal spirit guide” stuff?

Yes. I even have Zen legal koans. Let me leave you with one.

“As a practical matter, not knowing your rights and not having any rights are the same thing.”

Stay tuned for next week Wednesday, where I give you "Do you even 4th Amendment, Bro? Legal Searches and Seizures at Music Festivals."

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