By Lindsey-Shannon Lee
Students, professors and area attorneys came together on Saturday, April 7 to attend the wildly successful “Hollywood Swinging: Film & Television Creators and The Long Arm of The Law.”
The forum, which was focused on Hollywood creators and the L.A. lawyers they feed explored film and TV issues from copyright and contracts to court cases and the creative process.
Professor Greene described the event as “a great event, with perfect mix of creators and Hollywood lawyers.” Notable speakers weighed in on everything from the delicacy of negotiations to the importance of getting your agreements in writing.
TJSL’s Professor Jeff Slattery, moderated the first panel which focused on the creative processes and how the law intrudes and facilitates. The panel started off with the sage advice of Hollywood heavyweight, Eric Sherman. An author, filmmaker and industry legal consultant, Mr. Sherman extolled the importance of having an attorney in your corner as you navigate the creative process.
Next came Josell Ramos, a fast-rising independent film maker, producer, and director of the film “Maestro.” Ramos, a veteran guest speaker here at TJSL, engaged the crowd by asking, “Who here thinks they are a good negotiator?” He went on to share some of his enlightening experience, in navigating the intricacies of entertainment negotiations.
TJSL alumni Lisa Cervantes ‘97 wrapped up the first panel by sharing a variety of transactional anecdotes that reinforced the message “Get it in writing!” Her stories were rife with advice on how entertainment attorneys can serve as advocates for the creative process by arming creative clients with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and above all, keeping your attorney in the loop! She left attendees with some extremely informative and inspiring materials.
After a short break, TJSL’s Professor K.J. Greene moderated another remarkable panel starring Los Angeles attorneys Jeff Cohen, Nikki Barbanell '06 and Mona Mahdara Alcalá '08.
Cohen, a top-rated entertainment lawyer and partner at the Beverly Hills based law firm of Cohen and Gardner LLP was named one of the top 35 executives of under 35 years of age by The Hollywood Reporter in 2008. Additionally, in that year he was profiled by Variety in its Dealmakers Impact Issue. He shared notable points from his legal career as a transactional entertainment attorney and illustrated his points by sharing recent legal decisions.
The former child actor and loved character from “The Goonies” did not regale the crowd with his famous “truffle shuffle” but he did encourage students to be mindful of their own career desires instead of getting swept up in pleasing everyone else.
Nikki Barbanell and Mona Mahdara Alcala, both accomplished TJSL grads, shared from their broad range of entertainment and IP experience. Barbanell who is a partner of Martinez Barbanell LLP, spoke of her beginnings in the Motion Picture Legal department of Paramount Pictures, where she worked on notable Paramount titles such as J.J. Abrams’ “STAR TREK” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender.” She taught attendees about the importance of teaching your clients as you advocate for them. She also noted the importance of obtaining a mentor early in your legal career.
Alcala of Libertas Law Group described her recent strategic move to entertainment law and shared tips with students on how to navigate a somewhat bleak hiring economy.
After an open forum of titillating questions and comments, the crowd of present and future movers and shakers
adjourned to the gorgeous 8th floor for a reception and stimulating conversation.
Professor Greene explains, “The point of events like this is three-fold: first to give our students opportunities for leadership, something Lindsey-Shannon Lee President, of the Entertainment Law Society and the ESL team seized with aplomb. Secondly, to brand TJSL as the law school at the cutting edge of intellectual property and entertainment law. Every panelist, prospective student and practicing lawyer who attended came away impressed with faculty, grads and staff. Thirdly, to provide employment opportunities and internships for our students. It is rare that one or many attendees—and panelists—comes away with the opportunity to hire a student, secure a client, or establish a relationship that leads to an opportunity. As faculty, our goal is for our grads and students to succeed. And the TJSL presence on these engaging panels showed they are, and then some.”