How to choose the best Attorney

by Eric Sherman on June 8, 2011

Based on the large response I received from you on my last blog about the value of entertainment attorneys, I thought I’d follow it up with this checklist on how to go about choosing the best attorney:

1.  If you can, get a personal referral.  If you cannot, contact the local bar association in your area and get a list of qualified entertaInment attorneys.  (The Representation Directory printed by The Hollywood Creative Directory has a fairly complete list of Entertainment Law Firms.  Their guidebook is also available online at hcdonline.com, and it’s updated daily.  A real bargain, too!)

2.  Decide whether you need a transactional attorney (writing and/or reading contracts, as well as negotiating on your behalf) or a litigator (someone who will go to trial on your behalf) or both.

3.  Have an introductory meeting (which most attorneys will give you without charge).  You will note whether it’s a large law firm, a medium-sized firm, or a boutique firm.  You might even go with a sole practitioner, IF he/she has sufficient experience and “clout” to get the job done.

4.  Decide whether the attorney’s particular communication style is suitable to you.

5.  Tell the attorney what services you are looking for.

6.  Learn the attorney’s rate (hourly) and what size of retainer they’ll require (most require at least 5-10 hours).

7.  Learn how they bill you once the retainer is used up

8.  Determine what their minimum increment is (15 min?  30 min? only real time used?  etc.).

9.  Find out if they can and will make script submissions on your behalf, and whether or not they have a successful track record of having their submissions accepted without your signing a release form.

10.  Many business people go for three bids on everything, and they don’t necessarily take the lowest bid.

11   If you’re comfortable with this, you also might ask for the names and contact information of some satisfied clients.

12.  Make your decision, and announce it to the firm you’ve hired.  

Good hunting!
Eric Sherman

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Val Gameiro June 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Hi Eric, quick question… what if I only have a $10K budget (set dressing, props, locations and food)… not much room for a lawyer, what can one do for a lawyer then? Is it still worth getting an attorney? Or is it such a small fry that it probably won’t make a difference?

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