“It’s really rough out there.” That’s a top talent attorney bemoaning the economic sea changes washing over every corner of Hollywood — yes, even the lawyers are feeling the pinch. And yet, as studios squeeze star salaries and the credit crunch slows the pace of deal activity, compiling The Hollywood Reporter’s third annual list of the 100 most influential entertainment lawyers in America was no easy task.
From high-stakes litigation like the battle between Warner Bros. and Fox over “Watchmen” to the year-long maneuvering that paired DreamWorks with India’s Reliance Big Entertainment and Disney, the industry’s most compelling dramas increasingly cast lawyers in the starring roles. To put together the list, we again solicited nominations from the community on our entertainment law blog (THEesq.com), then dove into our own research on the deals closed, the cases won and the clients signed.
Some attorneys are such mainstays in the business that they’ve made the list each year, others are appearing for
the first time based on recent performance. Only U.S.-based attorneys are eligible, and no full-time law professors or in-house studio or network lawyers are allowed — except one, Warner Bros. president of worldwide business affairs Steve Spira, who is this year’s Raising the Bat Studio Lawyer Award honoree at today’s Power Lawyers breakfast.
We consider this issue less a power list than a reference guide to 100 amazing entertainment attorneys. It’s really rough out there. That’s why you need a good lawyer.
Power Lawyers – Litigation
In a challenged economy, the stakes are even higher in the industry’s heated lawsuits. Hollywood’s most tenacious litigators have risen to the occasion.
Freedman’s tireless representation of litigious blogger Perez Hilton has led him to develop a lucrative niche practice protecting celebrities and others who want defamatory statements about them removed from the Internet.
His firm’s new subsidiary, called Electronic Reputation Protection Services, tracks down those who posted anonymously. “I’ve been inundated over the past year with people wanting to clean up their reputation.”
Other cases include UTA suing former client Wesley Snipes for $2 million in unpaid comissions; representing two agents who left the Innovative talent agency; and the first case involving defamation for remarks made by singer Courtney Love on Twitter.