America’s Lawyers Black

From corporate law to criminal litigation, here are the lawyers to call to get you the best deal or keep you out of trouble

Jones, Cedric The Entertainer, and Jamie Foxx.
Shaw’s fast-paced schedule also includes hammering out deals for actors in the upcoming Barbershop sequel. “Sequel deals are always difficult to make because when the movie is first being produced, no one is sure that there will be a second or that the character will come back, ” explains the Columbia Law School graduate. But once a box office hit turns into a franchise, everyone is looking for a cut. That’s when Shaw, a 49-year-old native New Yorker, is ready to do battle for her clients.
Case in point: The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded grossed $450 million in the U.S. alone, and while lawyer-client privilege prevents us from knowing Fishburne’s salary (published reports estimate it’s more than $10 million), his contract may not have been quite so lucrative if not for Shaw’s negotiating skills. With that kind of money getting doled out, it’s paramount that “every representative on the team — the client, attorney, manager, accountant, and any other advisers — work together,” to finalize the contract, says Shaw.
Her tactic: “Never wing it” and “start from a place of incredible knowledge.” For starters, she researches the current salaries of talent comparable to her clients to ensure they’re not lowballed. She also memorizes box office grosses when negotiating with studio executives. Rumor has it her poker face is superb. In a discipline where pitching is everything, Shaw is a rainmaker, studio-shark beater, and vigilant attorney.
“Historically, entertainment [personalities] were not well represented, especially minority clients,” she says. “There’s good representation out there if they want it.” – Marie Evan Stephen D. Barnes < BR> Partner
Barnes Morris Klein Mark & Yorn
Los Angeles, CA
Contact: 310-319-3900
Career Highlights: The Harvard Law alumnus began his career in entertainment law when he formed a firm, Nelson, Barnes & Sheehan, with two other young lawyers. Barnes later went on to join the prominent entertainment firm of Bloom, Hergott, Diemer L.L.P. in 1989. His roster has included Babyface, Snoop Dogg, and Chris Rock.
Power Play: One of BE’s Top 50 Black Power Brokers in Entertainment, Barnes inked “A-list” deals for Chris Rock’s latest movies Bad Company and Head of State and is representing Aaron McGruder, creator of the Boondocks comic strip, in a television deal.

 

Leroy Bobbitt & Virgil Roberts
Partners
Bobbitt & Roberts
Los Angeles, CA
Contact: 310-315-7150
Career Highlights: After a decade as a civil rights attorney, Roberts entered the record industry representing The Whispers. In 1996, the Harvard Law School graduate joined forces with Stanford Law-educated Bobbitt. The tag team covers sports, television and film such as Paramount Pictures, Interscope Communications Inc., and Black Entertainment Television and is gracing their way into gospel music with such clients as Kirk Franklin.
Power Play: The firm inked a television miniseries deal for romance novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford with NBC.

Lisa E. Davis
Partner
Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
New York, NY
Contact: 212-980-0120
Career Highlights: A media maverick, Davis specializes in film, music, television, and intellectual property, among every other aspect the rainmaker can conjure. The NYU Law graduate spent the late 1980s as a litigator at a powerful

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