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Entertainment practices with well-known clients are in high demand in the Los Angeles legal market, leading to a spate of lateral hires among Am Law 200 firms in the last months of 2018.

Firms including Davis Wright Tremaine; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and DLA Piper have bulked up their entertainment practices in the region recently, bringing on lawyers with experience representing celebrities and the fast-changing media and entertainment industry.

Just last week, longtime solo practitioner Peter Anderson, who has handled high-profile copyright matters on behalf of artists like Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani and Led Zeppelin, joined Davis Wright’s Los Angeles office as a partner in the media and entertainment practice group.

“I’ve worked closely with Davis Wright lawyers in the past,” said Anderson, who has run his own firm for the past 22 years. Anderson said he was lured to Davis Wright’s “national presence” as it will help him to represent clients in copyright and entertainment litigation filed outside California.

“Davis Wright also has a nationally recognized media practice, [in] which I hope to help expand a music, copyright, and entertainment litigation capability,” he added.

Earlier this month, Manatt brought on Neil Sacker as a partner in Los Angeles. He made the move there from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he had just joined as of counsel in May 2017.

Sacker, who has been practicing as an entertainment lawyer for 25 years, said he sought a platform that can encompass his clients’ growing needs.

“As my business in both China and the U.S. was growing quickly, I wanted to go to a premier law firm where entertainment was a focus, and Manatt was a natural fit,” Sacker said. “Moreover, I’ve known and admired Lindsay Conner, the co-chair of Manatt’s entertainment and media practice, for many years and believe that we have complementary skill sets and a common professional style that would even further accelerate the growth of my clientele.”

Prior to his move to Skadden last May, Sacker worked a short stint at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan’s Los Angeles office, which he joined in 2016. His move to Stroock marked a return to private practice after in-house roles at several companies, including Miramax Films and Warner Brothers Studios.

“There have been huge changes in the television and film space and Manatt has been at the forefront of helping clients navigate those changes,” said Sacker, explaining that increasing competition from streaming services and Chinese filmmakers is creating greater demand for content. “As I represent financiers, producers and distributors, these trends have been a very positive development,” he added.

Manatt, a 308-lawyer firm, recently suffered a loss when longtime corporate partner T. Hale Boggs III, who chaired the firm’s digital division and the investment committee for its venture capital fund, left to join O’Melveny & Myers’ Century City office. Boggs had practiced at Manatt for 28 years. He helped the firm launched its Palo Alto office in 1998 and a San Francisco office in 2007.

Also in December, DLA Piper watched Los Angeles partner Ellyn Garofalo, a veteran trial attorney with a roster of entertainment, real estate and health care clients, leave to join Venable in December. Garofalo had practiced law for over 15 years at Liner, which DLA Piper absorbed in 2017. She said Venable offered her “a big firm platform, with the culture and values of a small firm.”  

Before these most recent moves, October brought with it a wave of three other significant entertainment laterals in Los Angeles.

Robert “Bobby” Schwartz, a prominent entertainment litigator in the region, joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan after more than three years at Irell & Manella. Leif Cervantes de Reinstein, formerly head of Reed Smith’s television and digital video practice, joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton in Century City.

And DLA Piper, which has been aggressively expanding in Los Angeles since absorbing Liner last year, brought on a pair of former Greenberg Traurig partners to co-chair its entertainment finance practice. Thomas Ara and Robert Sherman, had both joined Greenberg Traurig in 2014 from Reed Smith.

Greenberg Traurig, also picked up two new partners in California earlier this year, which included an entertainment lawyer. The firm’s Los Angeles office hired Elizabeth Valentina, a former in-house lawyer at Fox Entertainment Group. And in San Francisco, Greenberg Traurig brought on cybersecurity expert Gretchen Ramos from Squire Patton Boggs.

And early in the year, Los Angeles-based Paul Hastings hired a 10-lawyer group from Loeb & Loeb to build out the entertainment and media practice group for its newly launched Century City office.

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