Power Lawyers 2023: New York’s Top 25 Entertainment Attorneys

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New York city certainly hasn’t been immune to the effects of the strikes. But while Hollywood has largely been at a standstill, major players in theater, music, sports and tech have been as busy as ever. In The Hollywood Reporter’s NYC spotlight, meet the 25 attorneys handling big-ticket catalog deals, navigating AI copyright fights, buying and selling sports teams, and helping clients chase Broadway dreams.

Profiles by Winston Cho, Kirsten Chuba, Mesfin Fekadu, Caitlin Huston, Katie Kilkenny, Sydney Odman and Alex Weprin.

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Lisa Alter

Alter Kendrick & Baron
NYU School of Law

Selling off big-deal music catalogs has been a growing phenomenon, and Alter is helping her clients profit. She represented Primary Wave in buying a stake in the catalogs of The Doors and Huey Lewis and the News; BMG Rights Management in the acquisition of rights from Peter Frampton and The Hollies; and Influence Media Partners in acquiring the music interests of chart-toppers Future and Logic.

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “The owner of a combination bookstore/music store in a seaside village.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “Walking from my home in Tribeca along the Hudson River to my office in the Flatiron District.”

The Doors (shown in 1968)
The Doors (shown in 1968).

Robert Auritt

Brooklyn Law School

The intersection of the arts and tech has rarely had a more exciting — or complex — moment, and Auritt is at the center of it. A veteran sports lawyer (he was in-house at Philadelphia Flyers owner Comcast Spectator and NBC Sports), now he’s working with clients like Rightsify and T1 Entertainment & Sports and says he’s “most excited about helping creative industries figuring out how to build new products and services with AI.”



Andy Bart

Jenner & Block
Columbia University School of Law

Bart, who has several big-name clients, including Live Nation, Chance the Rapper, the Recording Industry Association of America and Princeton University, scored his biggest moment in the past year when he helped Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Records win $46.7 million from Astound Broadband’s Grande Communications Networks after its users pirated more than 1,400 copyrighted works.

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “How much success is based on listening and adapting.”

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER I’D BE ... “Involved in music in some way, like a record producer or a DJ (both of which I’ve done).”

Jared Bartie

Willkie Farr & Gallagher
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

As chair of Willkie’s sports transactions practice, Bartie regularly works with teams, leagues and owners like the Utah Jazz and MLB’s Office of the Commissioner on dealmaking. But one transaction this year had particular significance: representing recording artist J. Cole and automotive entrepreneur Damian Mills as part of the group acquiring the Charlotte Hornets. Bartie previously worked for the NBA team in the front office when they were still the Bobcats. “It was truly a full-circle experience,” he says.

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “I can’t go a full week without a couple of slices of cheese pizza.”

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Think about my 15-year-old daughter, Madison, and my responsibility for creating a foundation and safe pathway for her to reach her full potential and live a happy and fulfilling life.”

David Berlin

Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham
University of Texas

After a successful Tonys season that saw such clients as director Michael Arden (Parade), composer Jeanine Tesori and book writer David Lindsay-Abaire (Kimberly Akimbo) take home trophies, Berlin is gearing up for another busy Broadway run, which includes the musical adaptation of The Notebook (with a score and book, respectively, by clients Ingrid Michaelson and Bekah Brunstetter) and Days of Wine and Roses (book by client Craig Lucas).

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “A French horn player. That was my major in college.”

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Put on the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman. 

A group gathers while David Stone accepts the award for Best Musical for "Kimberly Akimbo."
David Stone accepts the award for Best Musical for “Kimberly Akimbo” onstage during The 76th Annual Tony Awards at United Palace Theater on June 11, 2023 in New York City.

Dale Cendali

Kirkland & Ellis
Harvard Law School

A go-to attorney for cutting-edge issues in the gaming space, Cendali has notched victories for Epic and Take-Two Interactive in copyright cases and for PepsiCo in a trademark fight over “Mtn Dew Rise.” Of what’s next, she notes, “IP rights are more valuable than ever, and the whole world is focused on artificial intelligence and the law.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “I am privileged to be on the Board of the American Theatre Wing, which means I am a Tony voter and see every show on Broadway.”

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “A theatre producer.”

Marcie Cleary

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Yale Law School

With an expertise in negotiating major podcasting deals, Cleary handled the structuring of Warner Music Group’s new podcast network, Interval Presents, this year. She also reps such industry players such as comedians Gina Yashere, Kevin Iso and Dan Perlman and actors X Mayo, Marcel Spears and Yolonda Ross. Amid the strikes, Cleary says pivoting to podcasts has appealed to her writer and actor clients: “Many are writing and creating for themselves right now.”

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “I have at least one professional conversation every day that makes me laugh uncontrollably — it’s one perk of representing comedians and entertainers.”

THERE SHOULD BE A BROADWAY ADAPTATION OF …Waiting to Exhale — still my favorite movie of all time.”

Gray Coleman

Davis Wright Tremaine
University of Virginia School of Law

Coleman has been primary outside counsel for the Public Theater for the past decade, during which time the organization has produced such Tony-winning hits as Hamilton and Fun Home. Most recently, Coleman has been representing the Public in connection with Alicia Keys’ upcoming biomusical, Hell’s Kitchen. Coleman also looks after copyright and IP owners such as Janis Joplin and Harper Lee and is counsel for Annapurna Pictures in its stage and live-performance ventures.

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “A teacher. A significant portion of my time is spent educating my own — especially newer — clients concerning industry customs, which can often be intimidating.”

THERE SHOULD BE A BROADWAY ADAPTATION OF … “As a native of New Orleans, I have always been mystified that one of the greatest novels set in my home town has never been successfully dramatized – A Confederacy of Dunces.  Various film/television/stage efforts have been made over the years, but none have taken root as the definitive adaptation. And indeed the current multi-episode streaming formula may be more hospitable to the sprawling canvas of that story. I remain hopeful!”

Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks

Fordham University School of Law

Crawshaw-Sparks mostly operates outside of the spotlight, quietly working on copyright battles for major publishers and artists. She’s recovered tens of millions of dollars for clients — typically in mediation — like Sony Music Entertainment, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears, in cases involving thousands of infringements. With an eye toward the intersection of generative artificial intelligence and copyright law, she says A.I. firms will not be successful relying on a fair use defense and are engaging in an “opportunistic” practice. She adds, “The rampant theft of music, to the detriment< of recording artists, songwriters and producers, must stop.”

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “For passion, a pilot; for money, an architect (I’ve built and renovated dozens of homes); for fun, a professional pickleball player!”


Lisa Davis

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
NYU School of Law

Known as a go-to lawyer for playwrights, journalists and writers who work across media, Davis’ clients include the National Black Theatre, Stanley Nelson and Susan Fales-Hill; actors like Amanda Seales and Wendell Pierce; and top media execs. She says one highlight of her year was seeing longtime client Pierce nominated for a Tony for his “tour de force” depiction of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman on Broadway.

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “A novelist. I strongly believe in the power of narrative.”

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “My representation of many high-level media executives.”

Wendell Pierce as Willy Loman and Sharon D. Clarke as Linda Loman in the Young Vic production of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman directed by Marianne Elliot and Miranda Cromwell at The Piccadilly Theatre on November 1, 2019 in London, England.
Wendell Pierce as Willy Loman and Sharon D. Clarke as Linda Loman in the Young Vic production of Arthur Miller’s “Death Of A Salesman” at The Piccadilly Theatre on November 1, 2019 in London, England.

Robert Freeman

Georgetown University Law Center

As sports look to a future outside of the traditional pay TV bundle, Freeman is at the forefront, representing such clients as the Big 12 and Warner Bros. Discovery. “The inevitable rebundling of content packages after an incredibly disruptive period of disaggregation … is only going to accelerate in the near and longer term,” Freeman says. The attorney also leads the team advising TMRW Sports — Tiger Woods’ media company and sports league — on deals with the sale of new teams (Steve Cohen and Alexis Ohanian are among the buyers) and developing its sponsorship business.

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “Sitting in traffic on the way to the Hamptons.”

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “That despite the intensity and pressure, in the heat of the fight, there is a lot of laughter — and, when the dust settles, more often than not both sides are satisfied with the result!”

Stuart Fried

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks
NYU School of Law

As a specialist in endorsement and product deals, Fried has had a busy year, representing Lizzo in her Yitty shapewear joint venture with Fabletics; launching The Weeknd’s Samra Origins coffee line with Blue Bottle Coffee; and continuing to work with Sofía Vergara, Mariah Carey, Vera Wang, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Arnold Schwarzenegger. “We’re starting to see a lot of interest in the idea of shoppable TV, where consumers can use their phone or remote to order products they see while watching a show,” notes Freid. “It is an area with a lot of potential, but the implementation and logistics are challenging.”

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “The degree to which I am involved in business negotiations for my clients and not just dealing with legal matters.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THINK ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “Running along the East River and seeing my daughter’s apartment across the way in Brooklyn.”

Gregory Hessinger

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp
St. John’s University School of Law

At this time of historic labor conflict in entertainment, Hessinger is a go-to counsel for top Hollywood companies on employment matters. Though he’s represented every major studio in the past year, significant wins include successfully arguing that Netflix music supervisors are independent contractors during an IATSE unionization push and prevailing in arbitration cases for CBS and HBO in disputes with a Teamsters local. A former leader at SAG and AFTRA before the performers unions merged in 2012, Hessinger notes that in 2023 “there’s a confluence of events that are putting a lot of pressure on bargaining relationships.”

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Recharge with a workout.”


Wook Hwang

Loeb & Loeb
Columbia University School of Law

Hwang was at the center of one of the buzziest disputes of the Instagram age: He represented Condé Nast in its suit against Drake and 21 Savage over their fake Vogue cover, a promotional stunt for their joint album. It was “a flurry of work in a very condensed period of time,” the attorney notes, describing the undisclosed settlement as “a fantastic result.” Hwang, who counts CNN and Paramount Global among his clients, also helped the Broadway producer behind Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird confirm the play can be staged in any U.S. theater.

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “A physicist.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “I die a little each week when the Giants lose.”

Edward Klaris

Klaris Law
Cardozo School of Law

When some of the biggest media or entertainment companies (like Warner Bros. or A+E Networks), or publishers and authors (like Simon & Schuster or the estate of Maya Angelou) have a complex issue related to intellectual property, Klaris is often one of the first people they call. Lately, that means figuring out the evolving world of generative AI. Says Klaris, “My clients lean on me to see around the proverbial corner and anticipate the next development in IP law and business.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “All four of my grandparents were born in NYC, as were both my parents and both my children, who are now fourth-generation New York City natives. I also own a boat that is moored in Tribeca near where I live and I take regular rides into NY Harbor, never tiring of visiting the Statue of Liberty herself.”


Christine Lepera

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp
New York Law School

Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” was Billboard’s No. 1 song of 2021, and in June of this year Lepera won a motion to dismiss a claim that the pop star stole from another song to create the monster hit. Elsewhere, a legal battle between Kesha and Dr. Luke had been going on for a decade, and this spring Lepera negotiated a favorable resolution on behalf of the producer, requiring Kesha to post his statement that her allegations of assault were false — as well as her own statement acknowledging a lack of knowledge of that time — on her Instagram page.

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “Therapy services.”


Dua Lipa performs 'Levitating' suspended above a stage.
Dua Lipa performs onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards at Royal Albert Hall in London, England.

Jonathan Lonner

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Lonner’s clients include Andrew Lloyd Webber, LeBron James’ Spring Hill Productions — which just had its first stage production, Fetch Clay, Make Man premiere at Center Theatre Group in L.A. — and Dan Brown, whose The Da Vinci Code has been adapted for the stage. He says he is seeing an increase in immersive productions within the theater world, which he views as important for keeping the stage relevant to younger audiences, particularly when it comes to classic properties.

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Focus on how fortunate I am to be doing the work I am doing and working with the clients and colleagues that I work with. It is the culmination of my life’s dreams and ambitions.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “I love to travel around the city on my bicycle. I use it to commute between my home in Brooklyn and my office in Manhattan and it’s a great way to explore the city and really feel its energy.”

Michael Mahan

Peikoff Mahan
Southwestern Law School

“With the strike, there certainly were many [TV and film] actor clients suddenly wanting to get back onstage,” says Mahan, who reps both theater and screen actors (though he’d prefer to see “fewer adaptations and more original works, please”). A major highlight for Mahan was to see client Ebon Moss-Bachrach recognized with an Emmy nom for The Bear this year. His starry client list also includes Cynthia Erivo, Laverne Cox, Lee Pace, Lili Reinhart, Sadie Sink and Titus Burgess.

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “The level of specificity we get into when negotiating nudity riders.”

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Think of how inspiring my clients are.”

Adrian Perry

Covington & Burling
Georgetown University Law Center

If you want to dive into the topic of emerging legal issues at the intersection of entertainment and tech, Perry is your guy. In the past year, he’s worked on innovative deals and products, including Universal Music Group’s creation and promotion of a metaverse band, various NFTs for UMG and a major ecommerce shopping integration launched inside a video game platform. He counts Sony Music, Tidal, Fox, Disney, MGM and Amazon on his list of clients.

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “Back on the road in a band, or writing comedy.”


Lucy Popkin

Goodman Genow
Stanford Law School

If you book a role on Bridgerton, give Popkin a call. She represents four series regulars on the Netflix hit (including season three leads Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton) and Queen Charlotte breakout Corey Mylchreest. Outside of Shondaland, she advises fast-rising stars Joseph Quinn and Murray Bartlett. “Everyone wants to do theater,” she says of a recent trend, adding that the strikes give talent the benefits of “a versatile career that goes back and forth between stage and screen.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “My (not so) secret belief that — to quote Updike — ‘people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.’ ”

THERE SHOULD BE A BROADWAY ADAPTATION OF …The Jerk. But they would need to get Steven Martin and Bernadette Peters to reprise their roles!”

Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in Bridgerton.
Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in “Bridgerton.”

Adam J. Rosen

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks
NYU School of Law

As counsel for Andrew Lloyd Webber and his production company, The Really Useful Group, alongside colleague and fellow Power Lawyer Jonathan Lonner, Rosen has been helping expand the legendary theater composer’s footprint — including working on the new film adaptation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and a television murder mystery that involves The Phantom of the Opera. Overall, Rosen said more entertainment companies are looking to exploit their IP in new ways, including his client Universal Music Group, which is putting up a stage production about Frank Sinatra.

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “The number of friends, industry colleagues and potential clients I’ve met while singing show tunes around a piano late in the evening. Also, the amount of high-quality theater I have the opportunity to see on a weekly basis!”

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Remember that I’m so fortunate to be able to have a career using my skills to help facilitate the creation of art.”

Alison Stein

Jenner & Block
Penn Law

Industry-leading companies in media and entertainment, including Nintendo and UFC, turn to Stein to head their anti-piracy enforcement efforts. She’s also helping clients navigate thorny intellectual property issues raised by generative AI — not only to “leverage their valuable content” but to “seize opportunities connected with those technologies so clients remain competitive,” says Stein, who continues to advise Meta on efforts connected to its global oversight board and on content moderation challenges.

WHEN I NEED EXTRA MOTIVATION, I … “Think about my mother, who is an inspirational trailblazer. She was in the first class of women at Yale, worked full-time as a doctor and near-professional French horn player, served on the board of Planned Parenthood, and still found time (and continues to find time) to be an amazing wife, friend and mother.”


Alli Stillman

Latham & Watkins
Penn Law

When it comes to copyright litigation and regulatory matters, Stillman is on the front lines for the biggest companies in music and tech. With such clients as Spotify, Triller and Roblox — all of which she’s defending in battles with music publishers — it’s no surprise she describes the most interesting trend in her industry as “All things AI!”

A SURPRISING PART OF MY JOB IS … “The inherent unpredictability. Even when I think I know what my week or month has in store, there is always something unexpected that comes up.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “Pretty much everything.  I was born and raised in Manhattan and still love to experience everything this incredible city has to offer.”

Michael Williams

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
Albany School of Law

Repping some of the top names in fashion, Williams is the go-to lawyer for such models as former Victoria’s Secret angels Miranda Kerr and Alessandra Ambrosio; major photographers including Tyler Mitchell and Petra Collins; and designers and creative agencies. Among other highlights this year, Williams negotiated burlesque star Dita Von Teese’s upcoming residency in Las Vegas. As SAG and the WGA fight the rise of AI in entertainment, Williams notes that attorneys who represent fashion clients without union protection will need to find ways to address these issues in negotiations, as well.

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “Finding a way each year to believe that this will be the year the New York Jets make it to the Super Bowl.”


Nancy Wolff

Rutgers University School of Law

While the implications of AI are a future concern for many, they’ve been a big part of Wolff’s past year. The attorney, who heads her firm’s art practice and works with clients including Getty Images, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, spoke at a European summit on how companies can navigate copyright infringement cases involving AI-generated content and was tapped to join the American Bar Association’s task force on AI. Asked about the viability of copyright claims from creators against AI firms, she says there’s “no fair use precedent for the massive copying of content for creating generative AI models where the resulting output from the platform can directly compete with the ingested material.”

IF I WEREN’T A LAWYER, I’D BE … “An artist — but would need more talent.”

THE MOST NEW YORK THING ABOUT MY LIFE IS … “Living in two places, the city and the country, one refrigerator has condiments and the other real food!”

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

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