Hollywood’s Troubleshooters: Who the Stars Call to Put Out Fires and Prevent Future Disasters

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Whether it’s defending against criminal charges, negotiating a prenup or suing an employer, having a top-notch lawyer is a must. But when you’re famous and living under the microscope of public scrutiny, it takes a specialist who can navigate the law and the media. Enter The Troubleshooters, the lawyers Hollywood calls when it’s time to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Much of their work is under the radar by design, and many of them won’t so much as confirm a client — even if it’s already publicized. But, thanks to word of mouth from industry insiders, public documents and other research, The Hollywood Reporter has compiled a list of the 25 attorneys the entertainment elite have on speed dial for death, divorce and other disasters.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Profiles by Winston Cho, Mia Galuppo and Chris Gardner.

Family Law

From left: Emily Ratajkowski, Britney Spears (pictured with Sam Asghari) and Kevin Costner are among the A-listers who turned to THR’s Troubleshooters to handle their divorces.
From left: Emily Ratajkowski, Britney Spears (pictured with Sam Asghari) and Kevin Costner are among the A-listers who turned to THR’s Troubleshooters to handle their divorces.

Harlee Gasmer

Elkins Kalt
In a line of work that puts a premium on privacy, Gasmer, aka “The Vault,” is even better than most at staying out of the spotlight. One insider described her as the “most effective, least covered family lawyer in town.” Gasmer says she always prepares as if she’s going to trial, and that helps her resolve matters without actually taking them to court. Her strategy: “Set a mediation, understand the power of the word ‘no,’ and settle the case.” Recently, she’s seeing a trend of exes wanting their wealthy in-laws’ money factored into spousal support payments. Her advice: “Don’t overindulge your kids if you’re worried about exposure.”

HOW I UNWIND “Pilates and MSNBC.”
THE MOST REWARDING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Being able to advocate for my clients and get an actual immediate result for them.”

Anne Kiley

Despite representing such headline-making clients as Brad Pitt in his acrimonious split from Angelina Jolie — and the ongoing fallout from it — Kiley generally flies under the radar. In addition to being a go-to family lawyer for Hollywood types, she has taught at USC’s prestigious Gould School of Law.

Dana Lowy

Meyer Olson Lowy & Meyers 
A founding partner of the female-led firm says recent highlights have been successfully negotiating a number of high-profile prenuptial agreements and litigating a matter that resulted in the former spouse of Lowy’s client being held in contempt for violating a court order. She also resolved a number of high-net-worth clients’ divorces by way of settlement, without litigation, and says a key to minimizing conflict is “being prepared by spending the time analyzing all aspects of the matter and not shooting from the hip.”

HOW I UNWIND “My first passion is travel, from an African safari and trekking with gorillas to any beach with a warm ocean and a good novel with me. An easy trip to Cabo is the perfect tonic to unwind.”
A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “People seem to be more angry as well as more vulnerable in these times, whether resulting from the divisiveness of our country, financial issues, the aftermath of the pandemic, or just high levels of anxiety.”

Erica Lubans

Wasser Cooperman & Mandles 
Lubans is becoming a go-to name at one of the most trusted firms in town, having worked on teams for high-profile divorce cases including Armie Hammer and Melanie “Mel B” Brown. Now she’s focusing on building a book of business and creating a healthy rapport with opposing attorneys. “I want people to know that we can have a good working relationship,” Lubans says. “I think it makes you a better advocate.” She strives to avoid drama and help clients “put this chapter behind them as quickly, painlessly and cost-effectively as possible.”

THE MOST REWARDING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Getting cases done and seeing how clients feel after it’s over. It’s like looking at a different person.”
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE … “Educate yourself before you get married. Know what the law provides and decide if you want to deviate from it by way of a prenup.”

Kristina Royce

Blank Rome 
Royce says her brand is to keep things confidential and to get cases into settlement “very quickly.” As someone who reps high-profile entertainment industry figures like Elizabeth Chambers, as well as high-net-worth individuals in the tech world, Royce encourages private mediation whenever possible, especially since the pandemic has resulted in lengthy court delays. She says, “It’s much more beneficial to clients to have something settled in private.”

HOW I UNWIND “I’m a complete dog lover. I love to play with my dogs and hang out with my husband and children. And I work out.”
A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “People entering prenups without understanding the long-term ramifications. I believe a marriage is a lot like a business, and you wouldn’t enter into a business deal without understanding your rights and obligations to one another. You need to approach marriage with the same level of transparency, authenticity and communication as you would in business.”

Brett Ward

Blank Rome 
Ward won’t give up names — though he’s been associated with the likes of Emily Ratajkowski — but did say that his personal highlight of the past year was wrapping up a “high-profile case” that was favorable to his client and done in a manner that helped them avoid litigation and the stresses that come with that. One trend he’s seeing is fewer people getting married. “So you have more situations that involve custody, property and child support that are not within a marriage,” he notes. “We’re finding new ways to resolve these matters without being under the umbrella of divorce.”

THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Getting beyond the client’s raw emotion so that the appropriate strategic decisions can be made.”
A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “The lack of training and knowledge around the intricacies of interspousal violence.”

Laura Wasser

Wasser Cooperman & Mandles 
Perhaps the most well-known family lawyer in town, Wasser takes on matters with creative thinking and a touch of “gallows humor.” She won’t discuss clients — they include Kevin Costner and Britney Spears — but says one of her recent wins was successfully defending the validity and enforceability of a prenup. “It took too much litigation and a lengthy trial, but we prevailed,” she says. “This is important as there seems to be a trend where people try to contest the agreements they entered into at marriage. Being able to depend upon an agreement that is properly made with one’s spouse is important. Seeing that judicial officers are enforcing prenups is a very good sign.”

A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “Disingenuous domestic violence allegations.”
HOW I UNWIND “Hanging with my family. Swimming in the sea.”

Criminal Law

Jonathan Majors, shown leaving Manhattan Criminal Court after an Aug. 3 pretrial hearing in New York City, is represented by Priya Chaudhry.
Jonathan Majors, shown leaving Manhattan Criminal Court after an Aug. 3 pretrial hearing in New York City, is represented by Priya Chaudhry.

Blair Berk

Berk Brettler 
Launching a new firm alongside fellow Power Lawyer Andrew Brettler was one highlight of Berk’s year — the rest, she can’t discuss. “For a number of our clients, we were able to successfully solve sensitive and complicated problems without those issues becoming headline fodder or resulting in either civil litigation or criminal charges,” she says. The elite criminal lawyer handles cases for defendants as well as victims and has worked with clients including Hammer and Darren Sharper.

HOW I UNWIND “I play the piano.”
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY APPROACH TO WORK “Smart, strategic and empathetic.”

Priya Chaudhry

Chaudhry Law 
Chaudhry is handling one of the most talked-about criminal cases of the year, or as she puts it, “fiercely defending the innocent, talented and simply wonderful Jonathan Majors in the false allegations made against him.” The Creed III actor is facing misdemeanor charges of harassment and assault after being arrested March 25 in a domestic violence case in New York. Chaudhry has argued that he called 911 out of concern about the woman’s mental health and is fighting to get the charges dismissed. When it comes to handling high-profile crises like these, she says the key is “acting quickly, boldly and with an eye on all the stakes that matter most to the client.”

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE … “Be very selective of the people in your life — most people will betray or lie for money. Keep all your paper trails, including texts, as though you will be defending yourself in court one day.”
THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Witnessing the rusty jaws of the criminal justice system routinely mangle innocent people of color.”

Drew Findling

The Findling Law Firm 
Atlanta-based Findling is a household name in the music business — though he also counts former President Donald Trump as a past client. He successfully defended DaBaby in a suit from a concert promoter alleging the artist assaulted him. Findling notes, “His counsel will likely have to compensate DaBaby for his attorney’s fees for what ultimately may be considered frivolous litigation.” The verdict capped off a year that started with securing a deal for Cardi B limiting her sentence to community service after she pleaded guilty to assault for an incident at a Queens strip club.

HOW I UNWIND “Distance running.”
A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “The use of rap lyrics as evidence against criminal defendants, especially in criminal street gang or RICO cases where there is little else linking the defendant to criminal activity.”

Mitchell Schuster

Meister Seelig & Fein
Superstars like Travis Scott, as well as a host of pro athletes and actors, keep Schuster in their contacts for criminal and civil matters ranging from blackmail attempts and nightclub assaults to family issues and texting scandals. Schuster’s aim isn’t just to win the cases but also to keep them from reaching the public, though more clients are going on the offensive. He says, “After a few years of almost everyone playing defense, I am noticing more people are starting to fight back against those who are either trying to extort them or have unfairly accused them of wrongdoing.”

A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “Utilization of social media to entrap clients and promote cancel culture.”
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY APPROACH TO WORK “Creative, strategic, adaptable.”

Brian Steel

The Steel Law Firm 
Between multiple motions to free his client Young Thug from jail on bond and dismiss racketeering charges, Steel has spent much of his year handling a sweeping criminal case in which prosecutors aim to use the rapper’s lyrics against him as supposed evidence of gang-related activity. Knowing all too well that many cases turn on jury selection, he’s dedicated more than 10 months to choosing the right group of Georgians to hear the case. “Jurors are understanding more today than previously that the criminal justice system is biased and can be manipulated by prosecutors and police,” he says. More than 1,000 potential jurors have been called.

THE MOST REWARDING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Watching families be reunited when the criminal justice system had tried to tear them apart.”
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY APPROACH TO WORK “Hard work, honesty and commitment.”

Trusts and Estates Law

For stars like Marilyn Monroe who leave behind lucrative image rights and other intellectual property, estate work continues well after death.
For stars like Marilyn Monroe who leave behind lucrative image rights and other intellectual property, estate work continues well after death.

Jeff Eisen

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp 
While some lawyers take a cookie-cutter approach to estate planning, Eisen says stars go to him for advice that’s tailored to their needs. He’s currently guiding two co-trustees through a minefield of an estate left by a “public figure with significant liquidity issues and very difficult beneficiaries.” The firm has handled posthumous affairs for Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein, and Eisen advises the estates of Farrah Fawcett and Muhammad Ali.

THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Dealing with people for whom creating drama and rancor seems to be the end goal.”
HOW I UNWIND “Travel and watching sports (particularly baseball and football). My brother is Rich Eisen of NFL Network, so it runs in the family — he just gets to do it for his job!”

Jonathan Forster

Weinstock Manion 
Multigenerational estate planning is never without its headaches, but Forster prides himself on making complex issues like tax planning strategies ultra-understandable for clients. Of course, as with anything having to do with family, when it comes to trusts and estates, there is a certain amount of emotion involved. The key, says Forster, “is to turn down the heat on the conflict. If you are able to strip a portion of the emotion out of the conflict, you can make better long-term decisions.”

A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “Children not interested in or capable of taking over the family business. Business succession planning has become more challenging.”
HOW I UNWIND “Spending time with my children. Hearing about their days and watching a show with them is the best part of my day.”

Michele Mulrooney

Willkie Farr & Gallagher 
The mega-wealthy flock to Mulrooney because of her grasp of the ins and outs of entertainment deals involving matters like profit participation, royalties and masters. “You have to think about who has control of the copyrights in a musician’s life after passing,” she says. Preparing for a change to tax law in 2026 that will halve the amount a person can gift tax-free after passing, Mulrooney has been advising high-net-worth clients to make gifts to trusts for their children now “to take advantage of the high tax exemption amount.” She’s also carving a niche in her practice by creating a pre-immigration tax plan for a public figure aimed at maximizing benefits before they become a U.S. citizen.

HOW I UNWIND “Golf or pickleball.”
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY APPROACH TO WORK “Passion, empathy, determination.”

Alyse Pelavin

Loeb & Loeb 
Pelavin, who’s the managing partner of the firm’s L.A. office and co-chair of its Trusts & Estates group, says moving “vast amounts of wealth” to philanthropic causes that clients care about has been a significant part of her work this year. She’s also been busy restructuring old family trusts to give clients more flexibility, and planning ahead to avoid issues. “I spend a lot of time with the trust litigators doing defensive planning,” she says, “and thinking forward and modifying an estate plan or a trust to limit litigation in the future.”

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE … “Treat your kids equally unless there’s a really, really good reason not to.”
A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “Incapacity of aging clients.”

Robert Strauss

Weinstock Manion
Strauss, who advises A-list actors and offscreen creatives, has been especially busy with clients seeking to implement strategies for estate tax reduction, with the estate tax law scheduled to change at the start of 2026. Recently, he helped a real estate investor client’s family save some $100 million in estate and capital gains tax. He credits his success in handling complex issues with “finding the space and time to think logically and creatively about the best possible solution.”

THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Explaining technically complicated structures to intelligent clients who are eager to understand.”
THE MOST REWARDING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Helping a client to achieve exactly what the client wants to accomplish in exactly the way the client wants it to be accomplished.”

Adam Streisand

Sheppard Mullin 
Streisand pieced together what multiple law firms never uncovered when he was tapped by Leonard Cohen’s children to challenge the will that left control of his $48 million estate to Robert Kory, the singer’s former manager: Kory had no right to act as trustee, because his attorney forged the trust. Streisand — who also represents tennis champ Novak Djokovic and WhatsApp founder Jan Koum — unearthed the forgery in a deposition when he cross-examined that attorney, Reeve Chudd. “I had Chudd dead to rights,” he says. “This then led to Kory’s removal as trustee.”

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE … “Avoid overestimating and underestimating your family members. Lions of industry often lack insight into their own relationships, the limitations of the skill and acumen of family members, their suppressed grievances or jealousies, and willingness to defy the lion or lioness once he or she no longer is alive or has full control of his or her faculties.”
HOW I UNWIND “I have an international life and it brings me great satisfaction.”

Laura Zwicker

Greenberg Glusker 
Zwicker’s clients are mostly entrepreneurs in entertainment and tech, many of whom lead increasingly global lives. “We’re seeing the world shrinking,” she says, adding that dealing with immigration and international tax matters is “certainly not a press-the-button type of practice.” She also says wealthy clients are being more intentional with philanthropy. “I’m seeing clients giving in ways that are more targeted and involved,” Zwicker says, “trying to use what they’ve earned to solve a problem that they’re committed to.”

HOW I UNWIND “Reading (nonfiction modern mysteries).”
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY APPROACH TO WORK “Careful, technical, compassionate.”

Out of the Box

Alec Baldwin, Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson turn to expert litigators in their time of need.
From left: Alec Baldwin, Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson turn to expert litigators in their time of need.

Tom Clare

Clare Locke 
While Clare points to the old adage that you should “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” his biggest win this year proves that might no longer be the case. He represented Dominion Voting Systems in securing a $787.5 million settlement from Fox News over its false claims about the 2020 election and notes clients are realizing that they “must aggressively defend [themselves] from false reputational attacks.” Asked how others might describe his approach to the job, Clare quips, “Right after I took his deposition, Tucker Carlson called me a ‘slimy little motherfucker’ who ‘triggered the shit out of him.’ I’m not ‘little’ or ‘slimy,’ but the ‘triggered’ part is probably true.”

THE MOST REWARDING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Playing an important role in the lives of our extraordinary clients.”
THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS …“Trying to be as good as my incredibly talented wife and law partner (and fellow “THR Troubleshooter”) Libby Locke. Someone once introduced me as one of the best defamation lawyers in the country, and I had to correct them and disclose that I’m not even the best defamation lawyer in my own kitchen.”

Bryan Freedman

Freedman Taitelman + Cooley 
Don Lemon was terminated from CNN the same day Carlson was fired from Fox News, and both turned to Freedman to handle their exits, which he says shows “not everything has to be political.” He’s also advising the universally popular Vanna White in her renegotiation on Wheel of Fortune, representing Quentin Tarantino in his dispute over Pulp Fiction NFTs and leading a crusade for reality TV stars and crew. There’s a common thread in his varied (and heavy) caseload: “Finding a way to win at all costs and a willingness to take on anyone and everyone to fiercely fight for my client.”

A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “The abuse of social media to influence and persuade narratives about well-known cases.”
HOW I UNWIND “Winning.”

Mark Geragos

Geragos & Geragos 
While Geragos takes on high-profile entertainment and media clients — like former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and a host of stars and crew from NBCUniversal’s reality TV empire, both of which he’s working with Freedman on — he wouldn’t call himself a Hollywood lawyer. “I do quite a bit of civil rights work around the country, and that’s some of the most important work I do,” he says. “I enjoy navigating through crisis.” Part of that, he says, is waiting out the increasingly short news cycle. “When you’re in the eye of the storm, keep your head down for 72 hours. Someone else [will] do something that’ll push you off the front page.“

THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS … “The worst thing that I encounter is representing parents who’ve lost their kids. That just hurts my heart.”
A PROBLEM I’M SEEING MORE OF LATELY “This phenomenon of trying to shake people down has become almost endemic. It used to be that you became a target when you got to a certain level of success, but now it’s across the board.”

Libby Locke

Clare Locke 
Ultra-wealthy (and sometimes famous) clients turn to Locke to keep their names out of the papers, shutting down defamation fights before they begin with outlets like The New York Times and Bloomberg. The litigator, who also specializes in PR counseling, advises against one very common practice. “Stop saying ‘no comment’ when approached by the press!” she says, adding that “it makes you look guilty” and is a “license to defame under existing legal standards.” So what would Locke’s strategy be? “Flood the field with accurate information to change the narrative.”

HOW I UNWIND “Caribbean beach. Cocktail. Although his lyrics suggest he didn’t like lawyers much, I’d like to think Jimmy Buffett would be proud. May he rest in peace.”
THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Judges who don’t follow the law.”

Luke Nikas

Quinn Emanuel 
Nikas is leading Alec Baldwin’s defense in the fatal shooting of Rust’s cinematographer. He’s largely been trouncing the opposition, getting the special prosecutor kicked off the case before obtaining a dismissal of involuntary manslaughter charges against his client, though they may be refiled. He also convinced a judge to toss a $25 million defamation suit against Baldwin, who was sued for expressing his political opinion about the Jan. 6 insurrection. Critical to those victories, he says, was “identifying every touch point — every intersection of interest, contract, business deal or site of a potential battle — that could impact the outcome of the case or the client’s reputation.”

HOW I UNWIND “Spending time with family, running marathons, reading.”

Alex Spiro

Quinn Emanuel
Spiro has proved instrumental as Elon Musk’s point person on legal matters. This summer alone, he sent a cease-and-desist to Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg accusing the company of stealing X (then Twitter) trade secrets by hiring dozens of former employees to build a copycat platform. He also threatened to sue the Center for Countering Digital Hate, whose research has documented a rise in hate speech on X, for allegedly initiating a “scare campaign to drive away advertisers.” Beyond Musk, the former Manhattan prosecutor has worked with Baldwin, Ye and Megan Thee Stallion.

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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