On April 4, 2017, Variety released its 2017 Legal Impact Report featuring the top in-house attorneys, litigators, and transactional attorneys in the entertainment industry. Venable partner Michele Mulrooney made her fourth consecutive appearance in the report. She was joined by partners Alan Epstein, in his second consecutive year, and Alex Weingarten, who debuted in this year's report.
Commenting on trends in her practice, Mulrooney said multi-generational disputes over inheritance and wealth transfers within families are becoming more common. In the past, she said, beneficiaries would "just take their chips and walk away. Now there is a lot more questioning and disputing regarding decedents' intentions." She added that challenges are generally not successful but expects them to continue in an increasingly litigious society.
Epstein said the ownership of content and payments for endorsements by Hollywood represent a "sea change" for the industry. "Talent has become very transactional, launching their own brands and promoting other brands," he said. "It will accelerate in the future."
Discussing the use of the anti-SLAPP law, Weingarten said it is used broadly in Hollywood because of its freedom of expression emphasis. Its use freezes other actions and requires defendants to prove allegations without the benefit of discovery. "It's an extremely powerful tool," he said.