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Media, Entertainment, & Sports

Overview

Lawyers practicing in media, entertainment, and sports represent artists, entertainers and athletes, movie studios and record labels, sports leagues and teams, and other associated parties. On the transactional side, the day-to-day work is often similar to the work of any other corporate attorney, with perhaps more IP issues involved, including drafting agreements, negotiating, counseling clients, and researching IP questions. Entertainment lawyers also handle disputes relating to the field, including everything from contracts to defamation to IP issues to licensing to first amendment, and more. Media, entertainment, and sports law is seen as glamorous and can be hard to break into, especially outside of LA and NY. Entertainment and Sports lawyers who represent creatives and athletes will have to deal with big egos and sometimes unrealistic expectations and lawyers who represent studios, teams, labels, and other companies are essentially doing corporate generalist work for more interesting clients. Large law firms will often fold these clients into their general corporate practices. Lawyers who wants to specialize in these areas often practice at media and entertainment boutiques.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Media, Entertainment, & Sports from real lawyers in the practice area.
Segun Aluko, Senior Associate • Alexis Robinson, Partner—Entertainment, Technology, and Advertising
Sheppard Mullin

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Segun: My core entertainment law practice focuses on the entire value chain of film and television, covering development, production, distribution, and exploitation of film and television productions. I advise major, mini-major, and independent motion picture studios on underlying rights option and acquisition; writer, director, producer, and actor agreements; production company services agreements; other below-the-line production legal advice; and acquisition, licensing, and distribution agreements for finished films. I also advise our media and entertainment clients on entertainment ancillary matters like film financing; live events; endorsements and sponsorships; and technology, corporate, commercial, and venture matters.

Alexis: I have extensive experience negotiating agreements and licensing arrangements involving disruptive technology, as well as assisting my clients in developing strategies to mitigate legal risk while harnessing the benefits of transformative technology. I have advised my clients on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to transform their businesses, including navigating novel legal issues related to intellectual property ownership, monetization, and data privacy.

I also have experience negotiating deals involving digital content and music licensing, advising clients on music rights and use strategy, distribution and rights acquisition, app development and distribution, software-as-a-service (SaaS) arrangements, IoT technology, esports licensing, endorsements and sponsorships, online gaming development, and brand licensing and apparel distribution. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Segun: For film and television matters, I represent clients like Amazon MGM Studios, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures Corporation, and Disney Television Animation. On technology matters, I represent Toyota Motor Sales on its telematics platforms and related services and Salesforce on its live events business. I’ve also represented movie stars and celebrities like Jared Leto, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews on endorsements for equity and venture deals.

Alexis: My clients include digital service platforms and providers; connected fitness platforms; performance rights organizations; broadcast and cable television networks; motion picture studios; social media platforms; buyers and sellers of intellectual property rights; live event platforms; advertisers, advertising networks and advertising agencies; recording artists, composers, and producers; record labels; and publishers. Some of my A-list clientele are Peloton, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ASCAP, Spotify, Domain Capital Group, QVC, 101 Studios, Vevo, News Corporation, Steinway Musical Instruments, Etsy, Bandsintown, and Songwriters Hall of Fame.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Segun: I work on various film and television development, production, distribution, and licensing transactions as well as strategic matters including first look and overall deals for high-level writer/executive producers for our studio clients, including Amazon Studio’s and Prime Video’s content strategy in Africa. I was a co-lead associate in providing entertainment-related counsel to Amazon Studios on its acquisition of MGM. I also advised Nickelodeon on various development agreements for its newly released “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie.

Alexis: I negotiate deals involving the license and acquisition of musical works with major and independent music labels and publishers. I also represent investment firms in the acquisition of music catalogs, including Domain Capital in its acquisition of music catalogs of the world’s most prolific artists, including Iggy Azalea and the career-spanning catalog of Ashley Gorley, one of the most successful country music and pop songwriters in the past 20 years. I led the music and data privacy team for Sony in connection with its acquisition of Industrial Media (portfolio includes American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, among others) based on a purchase price that valued the company at $350 million. I represented Peloton in connection with its strategic global partnership with Lululemon. I also represent ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), the largest performing rights organization in the U.S., in negotiating licenses with major global TV networks, terrestrial and digital platforms, digital service providers, and other music users to publicly perform its repertory of music.

How did you choose this practice area?

Segun: I chose entertainment law because of the correlation between entertainment and human and economic development. I am a firm believer that people become what they see, and film and television content continue to play a big role in inspiring, informing, and of course, entertaining. Many of the things we use in our daily lives today, including touchscreen devices, were once figments of imagination in sci-fi novels and movies a few decades ago.

Alexis: Music has always been a significant part of my life, as it is a universal language that resonates with emotions and experiences. While studying law, I developed an interest in the intricate ways in which legal principles intertwined with creative industries. This interest only grew as technology started reshaping the landscape of music and content production, distribution, and consumption. I saw an exciting opportunity at the intersection of law, music, and technology: this area of law is not just about legal principles—it's about being a part of a community that shapes culture and technology.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Segun: My typical day involves drafting short-form and long-form agreements, negotiating deal points, and attending meetings. We’re typically the extended arm of the legal affairs departments for the companies we represent. Our clients rely on our industry knowledge and business acumen so we can support them in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Alexis: My day usually involves several calls with various clients throughout the day to discuss deal terms and strategy, as we act as an extension of in-house counsel. I may also have calls with opposing counsel in negotiating deals. I typically work on revising commercial agreements, including music license agreements, Software-as-a-Service agreements, and purchase agreements.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Segun: I encourage them to take entertainment-related classes in law school. Entertainment lawyers are typically generalists, so classes on intellectual property law, business organizations, copyright law, trademark law, entertainment law, and electives like television, film, and music law classes provide a very good foundation for a career in entertainment law. They should also read industry trades like The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and Variety to keep abreast of goings-on in the industry.

Alexis: In addition to taking core intellectual property and entertainment lawyering classes, seek internships at record labels, tech companies, or other media companies to gain a better understanding of the business. The entertainment industry is heavily network-driven. Attend industry events, conferences, and workshops, such as Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit and USC Gould School of Law’s annual Institute on Entertainment Law and Business.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Segun: I really enjoy the diversity of my practice. I’m truly a generalist and being able to explore various aspects of law in counseling our clients, whether as a subject-matter expert or having to issue spot and consult other experts in other practice areas at the firm, gives me so much joy and fulfillment.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Segun: What sets our entertainment law practice apart is that we have a deep understanding of the industry. Most entertainment lawyers practice in-house supporting the studios’ creative, production, business affairs (usually lawyers), finance, and other stakeholders; or in boutique talent law firms, represent talent like writers, producers, directors, actors, etc., either on the transactional or litigation front; while some big law firms do corporate law or entertainment-ancillary commercial matters for media and entertainment companies, e.g., M&A, sales/purchase deals, etc. We do all of the above.

Alexis: We truly have a full-service entertainment practice that caters to every need of our clients within the entertainment industry—from contract negotiations, intellectual property rights, and litigation, to employment issues and financing. Our clients value this one-stop-shop model as it streamlines their legal processes and provides a cohesive strategy across all their legal matters.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Segun: Junior lawyers come into our practice groups doing what every lawyer in the group does. They draft and negotiate agreements and conduct chain of title review and analysis for film/television rights acquisition deals (similar to corporate due diligence as they also do on M&A deals for our media/entertainment clients), among other tasks supervised by senior lawyers.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Segun: Most of our work involves ownership and exploitation of rights across various platforms. Like radio did to printing press and television to radio, artificial intelligence (although not a new phenomenon) will affect the film and television industry going forward, especially if you take into consideration the recent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and many copyright/AI cases currently being litigated in courts.

Segun Aluko is a senior associate in the Entertainment, Technology, and Advertising Group in Sheppard Mullin’s Century City office. Segun’s practice focuses on transactional entertainment matters. He advises studios, production companies, independent producers, and digital content creators in all aspects of the creation and exploitation of motion pictures, documentaries, television series, and animated projects. He also counsels the firm’s entertainment and technology clients on corporate and commercial matters related to mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, and corporate finance, and celebrity clients on endorsements for equity and venture deals.

Alexis Robinson is the practice group leader of the firm’s Entertainment, Technology, and Advertising practice—the first woman to lead the practice since its inception. Alexis is also the co-leader of the firm’s Music practice. Prior to joining the firm, Alexis served as in-house counsel at one of the largest privately held corporations in the U.S., where she oversaw the company’s global intellectual property portfolio, as well as at a Fortune 500 cosmetic and beauty company. Clients turn to Alexis for her expertise in handling complex commercial transactions involving the convergence of media and technology.

Tracy Smith, Managing Associate • Luisa Lizoain, Managing Associate—M&A/Private Equity
Sidley Austin LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Luisa: I work in Sidley’s Entertainment, Sports and Media Group, focusing primarily on sports-related matters. In general, I do a lot of M&A-type work in the sports industry, with an emphasis on representing clients who want to invest in or acquire professional sports teams. Each league has a specific set of rules, so a large part of my practice involves helping clients navigate league rules and transaction approvals.

Tracy: I also am a member of Sidley’s Entertainment, Sports and Media Group and have particular experience in entertainment matters. I focus on strategic and private equity transactions, helping production companies, studios, and other sources of capital with M&A, joint ventures, and other commercial transactions within the entertainment and media space. Like the sports teams Luisa works with, the entertainment world has its own set of rules and languages, so my practice involves assisting clients with all of the unique issues that arise in entertainment-related transactions.

What types of clients do you represent?

Tracy: I have represented studios, production companies, private equity funds, and other entertainment entities like Artists Equity, The Gersh Agency, Neon Rated, The Raine Group, Team Coco, Trending, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group, plus entertainment-related founders, producers, and other individuals, such as Ben Affleck, Mark Burnett, Alex Cooper, Matt Damon, Dany Garcia, Eli Holzman, Dwayne Johnson, Matt Kaplan, Conan O’Brien, and Craig Piligian.

Luisa: My clients include a mix of private equity funds (Arctos Sports Partners and Monarch Collective) and individuals (Mitch Rales and Magic Johnson) who are investing in professional sports teams. I also do work for teams themselves, like Angel City FC—Los Angeles’ professional women’s soccer team.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Tracy: I handle strategic transactions between production companies/studios as well as private equity deals. Most recently, we represented Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in launching the production company Artists Equity with a minimum $100 million investment from private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners. Before that, we represented Conan O’Brien in the sale of Team Coco, his podcast network and digital media business, to SiriusXM.

Luisa: Many of my deals involve acquiring a minority interest in professional sports teams and, sometimes, control of a team. We help clients understand the team’s existing governance structure and their obligations as team owners. We also help clients negotiate for certain rights as team owners, including ownership perks. Since team valuations have been dramatically increasing over the past few years, we often work with clients who are looking to put together an investor group to acquire an interest in a team (or the team itself).

How did you choose this practice area?

Tracy: I have been in the entertainment world all my life, having grown up acting, dancing, and singing. I moved to Los Angeles to become an actor but soon realized I was more interested in the business and legal side of the industry. Having this background helps me connect with clients and understand their legal issues from a more empathetic viewpoint. It also makes my day to day more fun, as I am completely immersed in a world that I am passionate about.

Luisa: I have been interested in the entertainment, sports, and media industry since law school, and started out doing general corporate work and M&A, which helped me build the foundational skills I use now. I had the chance to start working on sports matters early on and really enjoyed the experience. Every deal is different, which keeps things interesting.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Tracy: When deals are active (and they typically are), I am usually reviewing or drafting deal documents, such as joint venture agreements, purchase agreements, governance documents, and/or employment agreements, and coordinating with the corporate team, the client, and the client’s other advisers (investment bankers, accountants, managers, and business managers) regarding the same. As Luisa notes, deals in this space are fun and collaborative, where client and co-adviser input is crucial.

Luisa: It really varies depending on the deals that I’m working on. I might be reviewing sponsorship or ticketing agreements for a team or reviewing a team’s governing documents for a potential investor. Our deals are often very collaborative, so we spend a lot of time communicating with clients and counsel for our counterparties and the leagues.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Tracy: I always recommend finding a legal internship in the entertainment space, whether at a production company, studio, or otherwise. My time working at a production company before law school solidified my desire to enter my practice area and provided me with the foundational skills I use every day at the firm. An internship will also provide opportunities to meet people in the industry, which is key to one’s career and overall business development.

Luisa: I have found the on-the-job training most helpful, especially observing partners and more senior lawyers and how they approach each deal. It is also useful to expand your commercial awareness by reading industry news and staying on top of the latest developments.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Luisa: Every deal is different, so I am always learning something new and interesting and building different skill sets. Clients are also really excited to be investing in teams—sometimes they’re lifelong fans of a team and are realizing their dream of becoming an owner—which is rewarding for me when I can help them navigate that process. It’s also fun to see the deals I work on in the news.

Tracy: Like Luisa said, working with the clients is the best part. When they come to us, it is usually because they are excited to grow within their current business or build a brand new business venture. They are passionate and energetic about the deals, as the deals give them greater opportunities to make content, provide capital to other companies, and generally expand within the entertainment field. It is always a fun adventure.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Luisa: That you need to be a die-hard sports fan. It can help serve as an entry point to sports work, but is by no means necessary. We’re always happy to work with people who are eager to learn.

Tracy: That there is a separate “entertainment law” that we practice. While we work with entertainment entities, assets, and individuals, we are still practicing corporate law and conducting M&A deals in the same way our non-entertainment colleagues do. That said, there are nuances to ESM deals that require a level of expertise and deal fluidity that sets us apart and makes those who meaningfully practice in the space a team unto themselves.  Plus, deals involving entertainment entities, assets, and individuals are just more exciting to work on (no disrespect to other sectors intended).

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Luisa: It runs the gamut. On some deals, there’s a bigger focus on diligence, which allows junior associates to “get into the weeds” on the team’s key agreements and operations. Other times, there is more of a focus on reviewing and understanding governance documents. Junior associates also help revise transaction documents and draft ancillary documents.

Tracy: Luisa is exactly right. Additionally, junior associates can undertake whatever tasks they feel most comfortable in performing. When I had to be out unexpectedly, a first-year associate stepped in to close the deal by herself (with partner assistance, of course). She now has the confidence to take on bigger tasks well beyond her level, and we are happy to provide those opportunities.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Luisa: Summer associates work closely with associates and partners on active sports matters. We try to integrate summer associates on the deal teams so they are doing real work and getting exposed to the types of documents we draft and review. Summer associates also shadow client calls and participate in deal team meetings to give them exposure to all aspects of a given deal.

Tracy: Summer associates are given responsibilities comparable to those of real junior associates. Whether they are drafting disclosure schedules or ancillary documents, or assisting with a closing, summer associates always get practical, hands-on experience—including opportunities for direct interaction with clients. Our summer associates are deal team members like everyone else, with the same level of responsibility—and expectations.

Tracy Smith represents entertainment companies and sources of capital in M&A, private equity, and commercial transactions, and advises entertainment companies on general corporate matters. Tracy rejoined the firm following a judicial clerkship for Judge André Birotte, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. While in law school, Tracy was the lead articles editor of the Pepperdine Law Review. She also served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Beverly Reid O’Connell of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and the Honorable Sandra Segal Ikuta of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Prior to law school, Tracy worked in business and legal affairs at a film production company in Los Angeles.

Luisa Lizoain counsels public and private companies and investors on corporate matters, including M&A, dispositions, co-investments, and joint ventures, with a focus on sports, entertainment, and media. Her practice includes the representation of individuals, groups, and private equity firms on investments in, and acquisitions of, major professional sports teams and expansion teams. She also represents professional sports teams in connection with day-to-day operations, equity financings, sponsorship deals, licensing deals, stadium deals, and other commercial matters.

Silvia Vannini, Partner
O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I help clients—many of which invest in, or compete in, the entertainment industry—execute strategic transactions, while protecting and advancing their interests. Their goals might include financing a project, forming or structuring a company, completing an acquisition, forming a partnership or joint venture, or working through a disposition.

What types of clients do you represent?

Advising clients in the media and entertainment space provides an opportunity to work with not only motion picture studios, television networks, and other content creators and distributors, but also their investors, such as private equity funds.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

A few representative examples include ViacomCBS’s acquisition of a stake in MIRAMAX, FilmDistrict’s sale to Content Partners, 20th Century Fox TV’s purchase of Dan Fogelman’s participation in the show This Is Us, Starz Play’s strategic alliance with E-Vision, and Lionsgate’s sale of its stake in EPIX to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

How did you choose this practice area?

I started my career focusing on general corporate work and M&A in particular. I was fortunate to be able to apply my legal practice specialty to a subject matter that I have always been passionate about: entertainment and media. My practice now focuses on M&A and other corporate matters in the entertainment and media industries.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

I spend most of my time communicating with clients, negotiating with opposing counsel, coordinating with internal teams, and reviewing and commenting on work product.   

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

A solid foundation in corporate law (including M&A and financing) as well as a basic understanding of film and television content creation and distribution are useful, and core concepts in intellectual property law are also quite important.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I love that we get the opportunity to advise our clients in pivotal moments, to enhance value for them, and—at times—to help them resolve crises.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

The most challenging aspect is also one of the most rewarding—you need to stay on top of changes in the market, such as the impact of technological changes on the industry. The shift from traditional film distribution to streaming platforms is just one example. 

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Lawyers in my practice area who leave the firm often go in-house at a studio or other entertainment company.  

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

The practice of entertainment law is constantly evolving to adapt to the changes in the industry. One emerging trend that is likely to continue is the way content is consumed and the evolving format of that content. 

Silvia Vannini, Partner—Corporate & Transactional

Silvia Vannini represents companies in mergers and acquisitions, securities, and general corporate matters, including corporate governance, both in and out of the entertainment industry. She regularly represents private equity funds, domestic and foreign companies, motion picture studios, and television networks as well as entrepreneurial clients on a wide range of corporate transactions, including company formation and structuring, acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures, strategic alliances, financings, and dispositions. Silvia was named to Variety’s 2020 Dealmakers Impact Report, highlighting the “top negotiators who have kept Hollywood humming.”

Matthew C. Thompson, Partner
Sidley Austin LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I serve as the global leader of the Media and Entertainment group at Sidley, coordinating all media and entertainment representations firmwide. I have a transactional-focused practice, representing buyers and sellers of media and entertainment companies and assets, as well as representing parties to complex joint venture and other commercial arrangements in the industry.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent strategic and financial buyers and sellers of media and entertainment assets, equity and debt investors in media and entertainment assets, and parties engaged in complex commercial transactions involving such assets. Current personal representative clients that can be mentioned publicly include Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, The Raine Group, Shamrock Capital Advisors, TPG Growth, Access Industries, Dwayne Johnson and his affiliates, Mark Burnett and his affiliates, eOne, ITV, Neon, Pilgrim, 44 Blue, IPC, and Johnson/Bergman/T-Street.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I work on M&A and financing transactions, general corporate matters, as well as other media- and entertainment-focused commercial transactions. A brief sampling of some recent deals includes representing:

  • Dwayne Johnson and his business partner Dany Garcia in their partnership with RedBird Capital in their acquisition of the XFL. The deal represented a significant milestone in the sports world, with Garcia becoming the first female owner of a sports league.
  • Warner Music Group and its affiliate Atlantic in a significant recorded music transaction with Artist Partner Group.
  • The Raine Group and affiliates in the launch of Thrill One Sports & Entertainment, now the world’s largest independent action sports operator and media company.
  • Entertainment One (eOne) management, including CEO Darren Throop, in connection with toy maker Hasbro’s $4 billion acquisition of eOne, including the negotiation of long-term, post-acquisition employment arrangements.
  • Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and affiliates in the launch of Johnson’s new tequila brand, Teremana Tequila.
  • Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman, the team behind “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Knives Out,” in launching film and TV production company T-Street and entering into a joint venture arrangement with Valence Media’s MRC Studio.
  • Tom Quinn and Tim League in the formation of Neon Rated (“Parasite,” “I, Tonya”), including an eight-figure equity raise led by 30West and an eight-figure revolving credit facility led by MUFG Union Bank.

How did you choose this practice area?

I was always focused on transactional work. Early in my career, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a handful of media- and entertainment-focused transactions. I quickly fell in love with the work. Not because I, like everyone else, am a consumer of the industry’s main products (e.g., movies, television, music, digital, games, etc.), but because I found the industry to be a bit more chaotic than others, and I liked being asked to bring order to that chaos. I also found that I was oftentimes asked to weigh in and provide guidance on business issues (as much as legal), and I enjoy that aspect of my practice most of all.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My day starts early—usually with non-U.S.-related phone calls. This is followed by making my way through my bloated email inbox and triaging what needs to be handled. The balance of the so-called business hours in the day are spent on calls and in meetings (these days via Zoom). Evening hours are for the actual nitty gritty of deal work that I am unable to get through during the day, including drafting and revising deal docs.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Immerse yourself in the industry. Read all the trades daily. Read all the legal publication updates daily. Create a network of people you know in the industry (especially on the non-legal side of things) and nurture it. Figure out what is important to your clients and get involved. Get to know your clients’ businesses as well as they do, and understand what their short-, medium-, and long-term goals are. Be available. Be proactive. Admit your mistakes. Share credit with others. And remember, there is a very small community of practitioners who do this work at the highest level, and—as such—reputation and honesty are critical because you will see the same people over and over, deal after deal.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

When people hear I am an “entertainment lawyer,” two things come to mind: I go to swanky premieres all the time, and I can get their cousin’s script read by the head of a studio. The reality really couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a corporate transactional lawyer who happens to focus on the coolest possible widget out there—the entertainment industry. At the end of the day, however, what I do as a lawyer day in and day out isn’t that different from what other corporate transactional lawyers do. But it is pretty cool when you get to help Dwayne Johnson launch his tequila company, Teremana, and you get to celebrate with him over a bottle.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

We try hard to expose all of our summer associates to the broadest possible array of practices and practitioners. This allows them to make an informed decision regarding the future of their legal careers. Every summer, there are one or more summer associates who want to focus on and gain experience in the media and entertainment industry, and we try doubly hard to make that available to them. However, we caution them to be careful for what they wish for. The work is not make work, and they are full junior members of any given deal team with meaningful, substantive, time-pressured work to be done. They all purport to “love it,” but it truly is a working summer.

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?

We all have been impacted by COVID-19. I am heartsick for those who have lost loved ones, are dealing with illness themselves or in their families, are struggling with job disruption, are managing jobs while helping their children navigate this crisis while attending school remotely, etc. We as a firm and as a practice area have been unbelievably fortunate during these terrible times. While, like all businesses, we have experienced some disruption, our practices remain strong, and the Media and Entertainment group has been exceptionally busy. Part of this has been due to COVID-related issues (including distressed deals); part of this has been normal course work; and part of this has been the industry’s belief that we will come through this in the not too distant future, so positioning for the return to some semblance of normalcy means doing business now (sometimes at a substantial premium to market). Personally, I deeply miss my daily in-person interactions with my colleagues (we are a close-knit group at Sidley), but I find myself very fortunate to work near seamlessly on a remote basis. The firm was well ahead of the game from a remote-work standpoint, and the shift to all remote was accomplished over a 24-to-48 hour period, with little to no disruption.

Media, Entertainment, & Sports can span many areas of law—from constitutional law and contract law to intel-lectual property and privacy, and so much more. How do you juggle wearing so many hats?

In addition to bringing order to the chaos and being asked to provide business advice (both as noted above), the broadness of the practice is the other thing that makes media and entertainment law so great. In this era of BigLaw specialization, media and entertainment law is one of the few areas where you have to be a bit of a generalist. On any given day, corporate, finance, tax, labor/employment, IP, M&A, distribution, financing, litigation, etc., issues cross my desk, and I have to be knowledgeable enough on all of them to be able to provide advice where warranted and to know when I have to involve Sidley specialists. I love the smorgasbord of issues and expertise required to do what I do day in and day out.

Matthew C. Thompson, Partner, Global Leader of the Media and Entertainment Group

Matthew (“Matt”) Thompson is a partner and co-founder of Sidley’s office in Century City, CA, and global leader of the firm’s Media and Entertainment practice. He represents entertainment companies and sources of capital in complex M&A and financing transactions, as well as general corporate matters and other industry-focused commercial transactions. Matt’s clients include boldface names, such as Dwayne Johnson, Conan O’Brien, and Mark Burnett; film/TV powerhouses, such as Neon, ITV, and eOne; music companies like Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group; and sources of capital, such as The Raine Group, TPG, and Shamrock.

Matt holds numerous leadership positions at Sidley, including several committee memberships (Greater LA Practice Development Committee co-chair; Firmwide Counsel Committee; Greater LA Recruiting Committee; Greater LA Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women). Matt also serves as co-chair of the UCLA Entertainment Symposium Advisory Committee and is a member of UCLA’s Ziffren Institute Board and the USC-BHBA Entertainment Institute Advisory Board.

Widely acknowledged as one of the most influential entertainment lawyers, Matt is repeatedly recognized by notable industry publications, including Variety (Variety500; Legal/Dealmakers Impact Reports), The Hollywood Reporter (Top 100 Power Lawyer; Top Dealmaker), Chambers USA, Daily Journal (Top 100 Lawyers), Best Lawyers, and The Deal.

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