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I've been sent a contract for representation by a management company. I'm new at this and don't want to get gouged. Can anyone recommend a good entertainment lawyer who can read over the contract and tell me what loopholes there might be?
Many of the lawyers I've contacted draft the contracts instead of simply reading and analyzing them.
And what's a standard rate for this service?
Thanks. You can send me a private response or post it to the board.
Couple of things to be concerned about:
Get an experienced Entertainment attorney to review our contract and advise you of the its terms. MOST important.
Make sure there is a clause which deals with termination. This is important in case the relationship sours, there is a definite way to terminate and that your work returns to you unless the mgr. has shown and promoted the lit. material to someone who buys and for which he has earned a commission even though he might not be your mgr. at the time of sale. There should also be a statute of llimitations on all your work the mgr, shows so that he doesn't have unlimited time to claim a commission.
There are several other clauses that you should pay attention to: length of the management contract, renewal, %'s, obligations of the manager and of the screenwriter, notices etc.
These are just a few ideas. I am not an attorney so I refer you to the first suggestion. Get an experienced entertainment attorney to review your contract and advise you of its terms.
A good ent. lawyer if they are going to represent you takes 5% of your deal. How long is the management company signing you for? How many success stories do they have? I have an agent but we never signed a contract. Maybe it's different with managers. Is this a management/production company? Just some questions to get answers to.
One more thing since you're new at this. Remember just because you have a manager doesn't mean you can stop shopping your stuff. You have to. Just the way it is. Also are they in it for the long haul with you? To be your partner? That's what you want out of a manager.
I wholeheartedly recommend
Robert Jay Weinberg 2700 Neilson Way, Suite 1033 Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-396-6616
He will require an advance payment of maybe $1000, but he promptly returns every contact, and I don't much think he ever sleeps or takes holidays off.
Feel free to mention my name.
Right now, you state you don't have an Entertainment Attorney. If you were in the process of negotiating a deal, you could get one who would take only 5% of the gross you would make.
But, according to you, you do not have a deal in the making. An Associate at a good company would charge you no less than $420/hour for what you're currently asking. The very top ones (listed a few weeks ago in the Sunday L.A. Times) are in Beverly Hills. (No, Hansen, Jacobson, et al. was not one of them--SURPRISE!). For a Partner, the cost could be $500-$600/hour (even more).
For what you're asking, I suggest you first get your hands on several entertainment law books and scan them for what you need.
If you had more time, you should look for people who have temped at SEVERAL entertainment law firms throughout the Los Angeles area. They're the ones who can tell you which firms are the best, most honest, most knowledgable and MOST ORGANIZED of them all.
There was one firm I worked at that repped some of thee top names, i.e., Writers, Prodcos, in the Biz. But it was the most unorganized one I've been at in my life. I was always able to find a file--but usually only through my own ESP. And then the file would be empty. When I first walked into my office, there were MANY piles of paper, sometimes 4-5 feet high--papers dating all the way back to 1995. There were things that AMAZED me about this firm. If the Clients knew everything that I had discovered, there's no way this firm would be in business.
It pays to network with those in L.A.!
Here's a tip. In the past (as recent as last summer), these top firms only took on new clients by referral. Thanks to the economy (which isn't that great right now), these firms are looking for "up-and-coming talent." So if you've got something to offer, you've now got a fantastic chance of getting with a great firm!
Someone sent me an e-mail a few days ago asking these same questions--and others--again.
In Los Angeles (and the surrounding areas), there are certain communities. When you work at hospitals, hospitals share information. Same with Studios, Entertainment Law Firms, etc.
Many Entertainment Law Firm Attorneys/Employees know each other or KNOW OF each other. (And MANY are very good friends, as well.)
I've worked at a lot of Entertainment Law Firms and I have to be honest and say that whenever someone has mentioned, recommended, etc., a firm on this site--from what I recall, they've never been anyone I've heard of.
The majority of well-known, reputable Entertainment Law Firms are located in Beverly Hills, Century City (and West L.A. and Brentwood).
As I previously mentioned, that although the firm I work at was listed in the Times as the top Entertainment Law Firm and Hansen, Jacobson wasn't--doesn't mean that Hansen, Jacobson is not a good firm. (Please don't ask me, because all I know is what "former" employees of H/J have said. I've never worked there.)
Hansen, Jacobson has been in Beverly Hills for years and is moving to Century City. If I was having a meeting with one of the Partners where I work and someone said, "We need to have a meeting with Matthew McConaughey's Attorney," I'd know who to contact at Hansen, Jacobson.
Yesterday, someone said, "No, it's the lawyer who reps Patrick Swayze." Did I know who it was? Of course.
I happened to notice that two of the most popular/well-liked Attorneys were not listed in the Times. One looks almost exactly like Rob Morrow, and the other reminds you of a very goodlooking, favorite uncle. To be honest, I was shocked they were not listed.
I'm not saying that if you have an Attorney who's not well-known in the Biz--it's a bad thing. But the really good, well-known ones are the firms that can open doors for you. They may have the biggest names in the Biz as their clients, but I've noticed the constantly working "smaller known" ones like TV Directors/Show Runners, etc., are the butter for the bread.
How do I know? Yes, our TOP "name" Clients are all competing for the same Oscars--but it's the ones I've mentioned whose files are constantly moving.
NOW IS THE TIME! Last summer, you would've had a hard time getting a YES when calling these top firms and asking if they're looking for new clients.
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH--NOW IS THE TIME! If you're looking for a good Entertainment Attorney--do your research and make your fingers do the walking and your mouth the talking. If you have something to offer and bring to the table--you might be nicely surprised.
Following up on Terri's advice of % vs hourly. My attorney chargers 5% for " A Deal " and Hourly to cut an Option Letter, renegotiate an Option, respond to an offer, etc. It's always his call on the % vs hourly. We try to keep our conversations as short as possible. His hourly is $495.00, but he gives me a discount. And when he charges hourly, he manages it very well. Three years ago it felt like he worked an entire week, and he only charged me for one hour, and that included him meeting with the producer's attorney when he was in LA for a seperate meeting negotiating a distribution deal at Paramount. If I call him with a question or suggestion, he doesn't even bill me if we keep it brief. We've been working together nearly twenty years.
Great advice. Would you be able to post the link to the LA Times article? Just want to see what they said about the lawyer I'm going to be using.
Sorry, Heather, at work--I just threw away allllllll the papers people have handed to me to read, because I'm too busy to peruse them.
I do believe I kept the e-mail someone at work sent to everyone because we were mentioned. I think it was in a special edition-type magazine that was in the Times (I could be mistaken, though). I may have kept it in one of my drawers in one of my offices.
I'm positive I kept the e-mail. I'll try and remember to look for it this week.
Most Entertainment Attorneys will charge 5% for Writers (some will make a decision as to whether or not to charge you by the hour if you're not a "known name").
Producers, etc., I'm sure are probably by the hour, etc. I know that ten or so years ago, there was a very well-known Actor who was a client of the firm I work for--but only for a couple of weeks. He was just starting out as a Producer, and the firm was just too expensive for him.
Like I said, do your research. When you call, they'll more than likely ask you if it's for MUSIC or FILM. Then they'll put you through to the voicemail of the appropriate party who takes calls re: "new talent."
Please be prepared as to what you'll say. There's no reason to be nervous. I know everyone on here has, of course, researched the career they're pursuing. You'd be surprised at how many don't.
The other day, the SwitchBoard put a call through to me to answer someone's questions. It was a man--who barely spoke English--who was looking for work as a PA. Don't ask me why he called an Entertainment Law Firm.
I tried to give the guy advice on how to get a job as a Production Assistant. Unfortunately, he didn't even know what The Hollywood Reporter was. GOOD LUCK, CHAP!
Pick up a copy of Brooke A. Wharton's THE WRITER GOT SCREWED (But Didn't Have To). It's short money on Amazon.com, and money well spent.
It's a great reference for people like us - including when you need an agent, manager, attorney, and a couple of sample contracts and what the legalise means. Wharton's an entertainment attorney and explains things in layman's terms.
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