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Legal eagles fly into biz

Fabrick leading entertainment arm

Well-known media finance lawyers Steve Fayne and P. John Burke have joined Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, a leading international law firm. In a related move, Akin, Gump announced Friday that prominent labor attorney Howard Fabrick will head the firm’s new entertainment industry practice group.

Burke and Fayne, long known for their representation of banks and bond companies on film and television financing deals, jumped ship last week from Rosenfeld, Meyer and Susman, where they had spent much of their careers. Their clients include Bank of America, Banque Internationale a Luxembourg, Chase Manhattan Bank, City National Bank, Imperial Bank, Natexis Banque BFCE and Union Bank of California. In recent years, the two have expanded to advising producers, distributors and studios on financing. Clients include Artisan Pictures, Phoenix Pictures and Paramount Classics.

Fabrick, who had been at Proskauer Rose for nearly two decades, moved to Akin, Gump earlier this year. He has advised studios and an increasing number of independents on labor issues in film and television for over 30 years. He has also worked extensively with the guilds.

With the addition of Fayne and Burke, Akin, Gump intends to build a global, full-service entertainment practice providing legal services in areas including transactional, intellectual property and litigation.

Announcement of a new partner to head the litigation arm is expected early next year. Akin, Gump’s Los Angeles office, which opened in August 1997, has grown to over 50 lawyers, and the firm envisions further growth, particularly in its entertainment department.

Thinking global

Burke and Fayne commented, “We are delighted to be part of Akin, Gump’s strategy to build a global entertainment practice. Our clients will benefit greatly from the firm’s vast resources, particularly with the globalization of the entertainment industry with more and more transactions involving co-financings, subsidies, tax incentive arrangements and with the increasing importance of the Internet in the distribution of entertainment content and related opportunities for e-commerce.”

At over 900 lawyers, Akin, Gump is one of the biggest firms in the country, with offices in eight U.S. cities, and offices in London, Brussels and Moscow. It is also known for its historic, high-level ties to the Democratic party. Founding partner Robert Strauss was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1973-76 and chaired Jimmy Carter’s election campaigns. Until recently, Clinton confidant Vernon E. Jordan Jr. was a senior partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. Earlier this month, Jordan announced a move to investment house Lazard Freres, but he will maintain ties to the firm.

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