Due to the number of tables in this section, the editorial is in alphabetical order
by firm name.
Media & Entertainment: Transactional - California
THE FIRM The entertainment and media group at Akin continues to draw praise for its work with investors in the entertainment industry, gaining particular renown in film financing. The group has a deep bench of talent and experience with cross-border transactions, allowing it to represent top clients from Goldman Sachs and The American Film Institute to foreign governments. Recent highlights include the firm's representation of Hemisphere Capital in a slate financing deal for films including 'The Adventures of Tintin' and 'World War Z'.
Sources say: “They have really taken the practice to a new level. The lawyers are very strong and their product is strong."
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Burke is head of the firm's media and entertainment practice. He continues to be emblematic of the team's approach, bringing a strong business acumen to media finance. He recently represented established client Union Bank on various domestic and cross-border film financing deals in connection with various blockbusters including 'Snow White', 'The Hunger Games' and 'Limitless'.
Marissa Román Griffith continues to build a solid reputation in film financing. One interviewee noted: “She is a great lawyer, a very good draftsman and works very hard.” She led the team representing Hemisphere Capital in the slate film financing deal.
THE FIRM This firm is well known for its strong talent-focused practice. Based in Beverly Hills, it continues to offer corporate and general business advice to its high-profile clients across the entertainment industry.
Sources say: “One of the best boutique firms.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jacob Bloom is “one of the best in the business.” His talent practice is renowned and he represents many of the top names in Hollywood.
THE FIRM The main area of focus for the experienced media and entertainment team at Davis Wright continues to be film finance, although it is gaining strength in the new media arena as well. The team receives a wealth of praise for its work on financial transactions, and recent highlights include its representation of various financial institutions, including City National Bank, in single and slate motion picture financing deals.
Sources say: “Extraordinarily responsive, pragmatic and sophisticated.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Head of the media and entertainment group, Jill Cohen continues to secure a wealth of praise for her knowledge and experience, particularly in film finance. “She is extremely experienced, knowledgeable, practical, hard-working and will do anything within her power to serve the needs of her clients.” This year she has worked on a number of important financial transactions in the film industry.
Kelly Logue represents a variety of banks, studios and other investors in motion picture and television financial transactions. He recently advised The Jim Henson Company in a note financing deal.
THE FIRM The team at Gang Tyre is viewed as the dominant force in the talent space. The group is widely recognized for its excellence in transactional work and its client list is a veritable who's who of the music and film industries.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Donald Passman is an excellent talent attorney who specializes in the music industry. He represents producers, record labels and recording artists. With decades of experience under his belt he is “one of the reigning masters of the field.”
Bruce Ramer is a "standout," excellent entertainment attorney with particular experience representing top film star clients.
Harold Brown is well known and respected for his thriving entertainment practice advising some of the biggest names in the business.
THE FIRM This firm continues to gain prominence for its high-profile corporate transaction work. Highlights includes joint ventures, M&A and multiyear slate financing deals. Recent work includes single and slate film financing transactions for Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox.
Sources say: “A really wonderful firm. They understand the media and entertainment industry; they understand its nuances even within M&A.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ruth Fisher is a “very strong,” highly experienced corporate lawyer with a focus on media and entertainment. This year she advised top clients Technicolor and Universal Pictures on various acquisitions.
THE FIRM This firm covers a wide range of the media and entertainment industry, but has drawn particular praise for its strength in music and talent work. The team works with a variety of clients from industries such as film, television, internet and publishing. It has also continued to increase activity in new media and technology.
Sources say: “Excellent! They are very professional.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jay Cooper is renowned for his strong talent practice at Greenberg. His continued expansion into the television, film and digital arenas has seen his historically strong music-focused practice develop into a broad-based practice crossing the boundaries between media industries.
Daniel Black is the go-to transactional attorney at the firm. He has experience with traditional and new media matters, representing clients in the film, television and digital industries. Sources find him “extremely knowledgeable in the field and a wonderful counsel.”
THE FIRM This Beverly Hills-based firm is an acknowledged leader in the entertainment transaction space. The boutique works with individuals and companies across the television and film industries, but is particularly known for its talent work. The firm works with top writers, producers, directors and actors.
KEY INDIVIDUALS A founding partner of the firm, Thomas Hansen is adept at representing the gamut of entertainment clients, from directors and producers to actors and writers.
Craig Jacobson has developed a broad practice dealing with traditional and nontraditional entertainment matters. He represents talent from television and film, while also advising on other areas such as film financing.
Jeanne Newman continues to have a strong focus on the television industry. She is highly regarded for her work with writers.
THE FIRM This Los Angeles entertainment boutique specializes in talent representation. The team advises both established and new actors, directors, producers and writers in all transactional entertainment matters.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Founding partner Barry Hirsch primarily focuses on entertainment law. He represents a whole host of clients including writers, directors and actors from the film and television industries.
THE FIRM This full-service law firm is renowned for its talent-based work in entertainment law. As well as media and entertainment the practice offers real estate, taxation and corporate expertise.
KEY INDIVIDUALS James Jackoway is a renowned lawyer with experience in virtually all aspects of the entertainment sphere. He represents an impressive group of clients including David Letterman.
Deborah Klein is distinguished for her work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
THE FIRM This full-service law firm continues to advise clients on all manner of media and entertainment issues, from licensing and distribution deals to IP protection and new media content. The group works with top-end clients such as DreamWorks Animation, NBC and Microsoft. Recent work includes the representation of Skype in sponsorship and promotion agreements.
Sources say: “High quality. Attorneys with more specialized knowledge of media and entertainment than the big firms.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Hobel impresses clients with his “practical and timely” advice and “strong network, allowing him to get information regarding general approaches and practices that are relevant in the industry.” He is head of the firm's entertainment and media practice, and with over 25 years of experience Hobel is adept at representing a number of media clients in financial transactions, IP rights matters, and production, development and merchandising deals.
THE FIRM The Los Angeles team at this national powerhouse advises on a broad range of media and entertainment matters from licensing and distribution agreements to film financing and talent representation. The firm boasts an enviable list of clients from all corners of the industry, including Warner Music Group, Diana Ross and Bank of America.
Sources say: “They are very thorough, strategic and connected.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Frankenheimer is lauded by peers and clients alike as a “dominant force,” with one calling him “the best in the music business.” This year he advised Revolution Studios on Sony ATV Music Publishing's purchase of Revolution's music publishing assets, and continues to represent huge music stars Diana Ross, Colbie Caillat and Duncan Sheik.
Mickey Mayerson continues to enjoy a fabulous reputation for his high-profile work in entertainment finance and media matters. Recent highlights include representing Netflix on its acquisition of streaming rights from DreamWorks Animation.
Craig Emanuel chairs the entertainment department and talent practice at the firm. He has considerable experience within the industry. Clients appreciate that "he doesn't look to score at the expense of the other party. He makes sure that I have a full understanding of the implications of all I am asking for and the needs of the other party."
Scott Edel works with heavy-hitting clients from the film and television industries, such as YouTube and BBC Worldwide. He receives praise for his practicality and his “client-friendly” demeanor.
Stephen Saltzman has extensive experience with international media financing and production deals. He has handled various cutting-edge matters in China this year including advising Beijing-based New Pictures Film on a whole host of issues including distribution and sales agreements for the film 'The Flowers of War'.
Susan Zuckerman Williams has been working with a multitude of impressive clients on corporate and financial transactions. She assisted Netflix in the financing and distribution of the series 'Hemlock Grove', and Benaroya Pictures with slate financing deals concerning films such as 'Lawless'.
THE FIRM This firm advises clients on the full range of matters within this industry, from film finance and labor to music and talent. The team works with many preeminent clients, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Touchdown Entertainment and Michael Douglas. Manatt is currently representing the International 3D society in its merger with 3D@Home.
Sources say: “They produce excellent, fantastic work; they are good at anticipating problems and looking after our interests. They understand the transaction, the parties and the business.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Lee Phillips is a seasoned talent attorney for a wealth of superstar clients including the Eagles and Tracy Chapman. Recent highlights include negotiating an agreement for Randy Jackson in his role as judge on 'American Idol'.
Lindsay Conner is a highly respected transactional lawyer who has impressed clients with his sophisticated approach and deep industry experience. “He is exceedingly clever; the other side respects him – he can hold his own against anyone in the world.”
Joseph Horacek chairs the firm's motion picture and television department. He has a broad media practice, but is particularly singled out by peers for his strong talent-based work.
THE FIRM This highly regarded media and entertainment group is a full-service practice, offering clients advice on a range of matters from entertainment finance, M&A and contracts to litigation. This year the team worked with Lionsgate Entertainment on its acquisition of Summit Entertainment.
Sources say: “O'Melveny is certainly one of the top firms I have encountered in my long practice.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Christopher Brearton has quickly risen to the top of the pile of media and entertainment lawyers. Clients describe him as “very hard-working, committed to clients, practical and plain-spoken.” He advises clients from all corners of the industry on financial agreements, licensing matters and M&A. This year he worked with Cross Creek Pictures on its distribution deal with Universal Pictures.
Joseph Calabrese has established a reputation as a “terrific corporate lawyer” who “really knows the industry.” He chairs O'Melveny's entertainment, sports and media practice. “He is very smart and creative – an old-fashioned good lawyer.”
Christopher Murray has a wealth of experience over a broad range of media and entertainment areas including film finance, production and distribution, and copyright. He is also particularly well known for his IP work in this industry.
Due to his wealth of industry experience Stephen Scharf is considered one of the “leading lawyers in the city” and is described by one source as “the godfather of entertainment finance.” He has acted on a number of high-profile investments and acquisitions this year, including advising Falcon Capital on cofinancing arrangements for roughly 100 films over the next three years with StudioCanal.
Robert Haymer is a prominent corporate and M&A lawyer with considerable media and entertainment experience. He helped lead the team on Lionsgate's purchase of Summit.
THE FIRM This established multidisciplinary team is at the top of the media and entertainment field, with increasing cross-border abilities. The firm has worked on various high-profile films including financing for 'The Host' and 'Two Guns', and assisting Lionsgate in its marketing campaign for 'The Hunger Games'.
Sources say: “Very professional and reasonable regarding their advice, which is key in the ever-changing entertainment industry.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Darwell “is smart, savvy and a tough negotiator.” Sources also say that he is “very experienced and is not only an expert in almost all aspects of entertainment law, but also has great common sense.”
Thomas Glen Leo is a partner in the firm's Century City office. He focuses on entertainment finance and commercial law, working with a variety of clients including film studios and production companies.
THE FIRM The entertainment team at the firm's Los Angeles office offers clients a variety of services including advice on production financing, talent, IP and taxation. The firm counsels a medley of clients, including top investment banks, production companies and talent.
Sources say: “The firm is committed to excellence and client service.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Schuyler Moore is noted by sources for his “combination of professional brilliance, relentless work ethic and charm!” His particular strengths lie in corporate and tax issues related to the media and entertainment industry.
Matthew Thompson advises a range of entertainment clients from producers and directors to distributors and talent, focusing on M&A and financial media deals. Clients find him “thoughtful, reasonable and practical.”
THE FIRM Ziffren Brittenham draws particular praise from peers for its deep bench of talent and entertainment work. The firm works with impressive clients from the music, television and film industries, and is considered one of the best talent practices in California.
Sources say: “Top firm!”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Seen as “a dean of entertainment lawyers,” Kenneth Ziffren impresses clients with his “experience, seniority and intellect” and ability “to get into the details of a deal.”
John Branca is lauded by peers and clients as a “standout” lawyer who “dominates the music business.” He is “highly regarded” and has worked on major transactions for some of the biggest names in the industry.
Harry Brittenham has built a reputation as the go-to guy for big entertainment companies.
Samuel Fischer is a respected and experienced entertainment attorney, known particularly for his work with talent in the television industry.
David Nochimson maintains a robust talent-based entertainment practice.
Eric Weissmann recently formed his own practice. He remains a highly regarded attorney, adept at talent representation. “He is a wonderful guy and a great lawyer.”
Linda Lichter of Lichter Grossman Nicholas Adler & Goodman continues to work with a wide variety of top clients from the film industry.
Aaron Rosenberg of Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light LLP is a young talent lawyer with a promising practice. He currently represents some of the biggest names in music, including Justin Bieber.