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'A Niche Within a Niche'

Artists, galleries and more make up Sammetria Goodson’s practice

Published in 2022 Texas Rising Stars magazine

Early on a Thursday morning in mid-November, Sammetria Goodson settles in at GoodWork, a solar-powered coworking space not far from the Dallas Farmers Market. It’s a space that, according to Goodson, “is full of creatives and has a great vibe.”

This could also describe the 40-year-old attorney’s solo practice.

“I work with artists from studio wall to collector wall,” says Goodson, whose client list also includes galleries and independent curators, as well as “multi-hyphenates,” aka visual artists with freelance work. These clients might also be in a band, have their own videography business, or teach. On this particular Thursday, which tends to be her busiest day of the week, Goodson is gearing up for conversations with several clients. One has questions about their business structure. Another is an art collective that wants to become a nonprofit. A third is a gallery considering a new space.

Art law, among a group of nontraditional areas that Goodson describes as “a niche within a niche,” wasn’t a practice area when she graduated from the Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 2011. Instead, her professors guided her toward courses in intellectual property and business law, skill sets that serve her well as she helps her clients nurture and protect their ever-evolving creativity.

Goodson’s appreciation for art was nurtured from an early age by her mother, Alice, who would take her daughter to The Museum of Fine Arts and the Children’s Museum in Houston, where Goodson grew up. “I was fascinated by the idea that I could look at something that was on a wall and be in conversation with it,” she says. Later, as an undergraduate in the McCombs School of Business at UT, she continued to pursue her love of art by taking courses in the College of Fine Arts, where a professor encouraged her to consider art history as a career. She graduated from both schools in 2004. 

While Goodson was looking into a certificate program for art finance at Sotheby’s in London, credit-data company Experian came calling. Goodson likes to say she received an offer she couldn’t refuse: a full-time job with salary plus commission, a company car, training in California, then a paid transfer to a location of her choosing. Goodson eventually landed in Philadelphia, a city she says is “bursting with art.” When she wasn’t selling data and algorithms to the financial services industry, she was volunteering her time for a local art collective.

At Experian, Goodson noticed that many of the upper-level executives had legal backgrounds; she wanted to go to grad school, and felt that law would be more practical than an MBA. And, gradually, she realized that what she needed to help her art clients was a law degree. “Legal issues were destroying their ability to do work,” she says. “Learning about the issues the art community faced sent me to law school.”

In 2015, her brother Johnathan—a multi-hyphenate creative with an emerging sound career—died unexpectedly at a Dallas radio station. Goodson, who was working on personal injury cases at the time, says he passed away doing what he loved; his death encouraged her to reevaluate her life, which led her back to art and IP. “Johnathan was probably my first client, because we would sit and try to map all of his interests out,” she says. “What I do in my work every day is protect the people like him that are pursuing avenues to bring their creativity to life.”

Goodson operates within a community that is constantly dealing with social climate, and the recent impact of social justice movements has led her to shift her practice to better represent her clients as they navigate new opportunities. “I negotiated multiple licensing deals where major brands were reaching out to artists in the wake of, and in response to, what was happening in 2020. And the clients were asking about how to protect their interests beyond just the commercial terms,” she says. 

May of last year, Goodson gave the virtual commencement address to the College of Fine Arts’ graduating class at her alma mater in Austin. She reminded the students of the power of their own creativity, saying, “If there’s anyone who can deal with the pandemic, it’s going to be an artist or creative. Artists make things out of nothing every day.”

Because, as Goodson likes to remind her clients: “Creativity fuels everything.”

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