Alumni Profile: Joe Escalante '92
Joe Escalante '92 first made his name as a punk rocker and created a mini-empire that blends legal and media ventures: a legal advice radio show, a record label, a stable of films and an occasional USO tour with his band, The Vandals.
Before the law, Escalante focused on music, and he used his legal skills to stay involved. He crafted deals with bands like Blink 182, and he applied his negotiating prowess to form his own record label, Kung Fu Records. Escalante says a background in law is essential for anyone interested in an entertainment career: “Many of the best managers are lawyers. Everyone in this business should have a JD because it equips you for anything.”
Loyola was a good match for Escalante—his father briefly attended and his sister is an alumnae. He remembers Professor Tanner’s property class, Professor Lazaroff’s antitrust course and Professor Goldman’s criminal law class as pivotal educational experiences. Although he planned a career as a prosecutor, an internship at CBS turned into a staff position. Later, his band became more and more successful, leading him to form his record label so he could retain control of his music. He then founded a law practice that represented high-profile music clients.
Escalante retired from law two years ago. “I was burned out,” he said. “It’s one thing to be conflicted in criminal law, asking ‘How can I represent a guilty person?’ Yet that is nothing compared to people who represent people who stomp on people just because they can. I couldn’t do it.”
So, Escalante made his name as a radio personality as host of “Barely Legal,” a call-in show offering legal advice for those in the entertainment industry. This led to his latest gig—hosting Indie 103.1 FM’s morning show, one of the most popular programs in the LA market.