Power Lawyers 2011
WHY DEALS FALL APART:
► Too few lawyers. Hollywood clients way too often view themselves as the dealmakers and the lawyers as merely an afterthought. They think they have closed a deal based on an ambiguous chain of e-mails full of mutual love and affection but sparse on details. Then all hell breaks loose trying to convert that love and affection into a contract.
► Too many lawyers. The law of legal physics is T= L squared. That is, the Time it takes to do anything equals the number of Lawyers squared. Please note that it is a logarithmic equation; the time increases exponentially as the number of lawyers increases. At some point, everyone just gives up and goes home.
► Lame deal memos. Often, clients proceed based on half-baked memos that deal with only some of the issues on the theory that a vague reference to a "long form to follow" (which never does) will somehow cure the deficiencies. The inevitable disputes that follow can collapse deals.
► Too much acrimony. Negotiations sometimes turn into "he said, she said" yelling matches over who is "changing the deal." When emotions take over, logic (and deals) go out the window.
► A cautionary tale: A new client came to me with a signed "commitment letter" from a bank, only to learn that the only "commitment" was the client's commitment to pay the bank's legal fees. The bank's lawyers then over-negotiated the loan into oblivion, leaving my client with a bill from the bank's lawyers for $400,000, but no loan. Ouch.
Schuyler Moore is an entertainment finance attorney who often puts together big-ticket Hollywood deals.