Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

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  • Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

    Hello Guys, looking at putting this Attorney on retainer to represent biopic project he seems to dig. Anyone with anything to say I would appreciate a PM or if you choose, here.

    I have seen this https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2404120/ and seems clean by the bar just looking for anything else before pulling the trigger. I hope you all stay well and covered, regardless from this craziness we all are experiencing. Thanks!
    Last edited by The WayWard Uncle; 04-08-2020, 07:13 PM.
    "I am an action-figure trying to scratch some things."

  • #2
    Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

    If the lawyer is willing to take the standard 5% commission on your earnings and nothing else (which is what legit entertainment attorneys take from their clients), then great.



    Short of that, hard pass.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

      Originally posted by NoNeckJoe View Post
      If the lawyer is willing to take the standard 5% commission on your earnings and nothing else (which is what legit entertainment attorneys take from their clients), then great.
      Short of that, hard pass.
      This firm has asked for a fee based retainer model with a 2 month minimum since I am a newbie with something he says, "Sounds interesting," but don't they all say that to get the hook into you? When asked about milestones or results he sounded pretty straight forward he mentioned that he would advise on the package, include a breakdown of casting options, and submission studios, execs, for submissions etc. I would be apart of the process which sounds good.

      And he does seem to have some creds on his name. Anyone with any more input, watch-outs, feedbacks with this model? My main concern is like in other industries, the pricing reflects the fact there will be "many" pieces that nickle and dime you to death then your bill becomes outrageous or you just can not afford it in the end. Any comments? It would be greatly appreciated.
      Last edited by The WayWard Uncle; 04-09-2020, 04:13 AM.
      "I am an action-figure trying to scratch some things."

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

        Originally posted by The WayWard Uncle View Post
        I would be apart of the process which sounds good.
        Ensure you are 'a part of the process,' which means you are involved, and not "apart of the process,- which means you are not involved.
        "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

          What makes me nervous is the part on their website where they say "we'll also package your product and submit it to studios for you-. Yes, entertainment attorneys can and do submit material but that's not really why this exist. I'm not saying these guys aren't legit on the legal side of thing (I don't know if they are either), but all this other stuff sounds like an excuse to squeeze money out of you over a prolonged period of time

          If it was me, I'd keep looking for a manager or agent who will just take 10 percent. Hell, I know it's a dirty word on this forum but even working with someone whose gonna get paid via packaging fee makes more sense than this.

          I'd find another lawyer. Something about this whole thing just makes my skin crawl.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

            Originally posted by The WayWard Uncle View Post
            When asked about milestones or results he sounded pretty straight forward he mentioned that he would advise on the package, include a breakdown of casting options, and submission studios, execs, for submissions etc. I would be apart of the process which sounds good.
            This is not what an entertainment lawyer should be doing really. None of my bosses' lawyers ever got involved with any of this. I don't think any of my writing friends' lawyers have either. In the vast, vast majority of cases, an entertainment lawyer is given the contract for your deal either by your agent, your manager, the producer/company or you. They look it over and make sure you're as well protected and covered as possible per certain deal points, "legal wording," payment, credit, etc. That's what they do.

            If your writing and your script is really good, try entering some key contests to even see what happens with it first. Better yet, see if some of folks on our forum or any script writing forum will read your work for free. It doesn't take a genius to recognize a good script. It takes skill to improve one and offer notes. Sure. But just reading and saying this is well-written and interesting, doesn't take a great deal of knowledge other than familiarity with writing and having read scripts. Quite a few folks out there can surely offer more than reasonable feedback as to whether your script works or not, at least and do so again for free.

            And what are you really going to be "a part" of? Have you made a lot of movies? Do you know financing? Know casting? Can your provide informed & knowledgeable feedback on what they are doing? So someone sends stuff to you to look at. What are you going to say, oh, I don't like that actor for the part? They delete that person and they are done.

            To be clear, I'm not judging you and what you know. I'm not trying to be rude or mean about it. Not in the least. But think about all this. People will do all kinds of things if you give them money. Doesn't mean they are the ones to do it (i.e. the best) or that you really even need it.
            Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 04-09-2020, 12:48 PM. Reason: Grammar and clarification
            Will
            Done Deal Pro
            www.donedealpro.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

              I would like to help clarify a couple things.

              1. THE 5% MISCONCEPTION - I often see that people will unilaterally say that all entertainment lawyers charge this, and if they deviate from this, somehow they are out to scam you. This is simply not true. In order for a lawyer to rep someone for 5%, there has to be enough guaranteed continuous income from the writer to justify it. From their point of view, they will perform a lot of work on some deals, and not so much on others. One can never know in advance. So their commissions even out over several jobs.

              If you're starting out, and only have ONE imminent deal with an actual money offer... They most likely still wouldn't rep you on a 5% basis. The math is just not there to justify it. Let's walk through it.

              Let's say you land your very first 'real' deal. This will most likely be something around the WGA minimum and likely involve an option payment of some sort. Let's say it's a feature screenplay in the high budget category. That means the actual money being paid to the writer is $10,449 for the option, which is 10% of the WGA minimum of $104,499.

              That means that the attorney would only earn $522.45 to get to that step if they charged 5%. Considering that most of them charge $300 to $500 an hour, we can already see how this makes no sense.

              2. ATTORNEYS AREN'T IN THE BUSINESS OF 'BETTING' ON CLIENTS. Good attorneys are busy as hell. They perform a very specific and highly skilled service. Like plumbers, you only bring them on when you need them. They charge accordingly. If you are a money-making machine in constant need of legal services, then yes, the 5% definitely makes sense for both parties.

              3. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEYS. So, choose carefully. Some will be in the business of generating billable hours by servicing indie productions. Others will have a large staff to pay, and will prefer big clients. Others will be a one person shop hungry for new *paying* business. The one category which doesn't seem to exist is the successful attorney looking to do pro-bono or loss-leader work for unproven new writers. Sorry. I've tried

              4. Lastly... DON'T HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR VANITY REASONS. I've known a few writers who feel the need to put an attorney on retainer without having any deal on the table. This could set them back up to $5,000. They usually think this helps to 'legitimize' their project. It doesn't. At the end of the day you still need a buyer interested in acquiring your goods.
              Manfred Lopez Grem
              Writer - Director

              REEL - IMDB

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                Yes! This is what I am talking about and now the debate is on. Out the gate I was more leaning towards the no-go situation. But, I did have a feeling that after dealing with many films that maybe this guy definitely could know someone closer to getting my auto-biopic up and off the ground, especially if he was a hustling-ass kind, who if he already had contact with a wide range of producers, etc, by doing legal services, and other roles for movies; topping at probably the "Skyscaper," level...

                Which Now, makes me pose this question: Is it such a bizarro, anomaly for an attorney crossing over to more a prod/attorney role if he likes the project or IF is just trying to generate income? Are there laws that restrict this behavior or action, or "could" he just be a hustling-ass kind of guy (I like this part) trying to use what he has in relationships and with them try to move a piece along? Again, coming from this background:https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2404120/

                To address TigerFang and Done Deal Pro. Being a part of the process now is paramount at this point because of the IP being my life story, unsold for any life rights at the moment but would consider, etc. Anybody interested in polishing up a story about an early crypto developer who moonlighted as an arms dealer and was involved in a deal that makes, "War Dogs," flick look like a Chihuahua: teacup at that?

                I will look for readers here and consider entering some contests as suggested. Thank you for allowing me to seek resource and stay well and covered during all's own moment of unsteady times.

                TwwU out.
                Last edited by The WayWard Uncle; 04-10-2020, 07:59 AM.
                "I am an action-figure trying to scratch some things."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                  Originally posted by The WayWard Uncle View Post
                  Yes! This is what I am talking about and now the debate is on. Out the gate I was more leaning towards the no-go situation. But, I did have a feeling that after dealing with many films that maybe this guy definitely could know someone closer to getting my auto-biopic up and off the ground, especially if he was a hustling-ass kind, who if he already had contact with a wide range of producers, etc, by doing legal services, and other roles for movies; topping at probably the "Skyscaper," level...

                  Which Now, makes me pose this question: Is it such a bizarro, anomaly for an attorney crossing over to more a prod/attorney role if he likes the project or IF is just trying to generate income? Are there laws that restrict this behavior or action, or "could" he just be a hustling-ass kind of guy (I like this part) trying to use what he has in relationships and with them try to move a piece along? Again, coming from this background:https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2404120/

                  To address TigerFang and Done Deal Pro. Being a part of the process now is paramount at this point because of the IP being my life story, unsold for any life rights at the moment but would consider, etc. Anybody interested in polishing up a story about an early crypto developer who moonlighted as an arms dealer and was involved in a deal that makes, "War Dogs," flick look like a Chihuahua: teacup at that?

                  I will look for readers here and consider entering some contests as suggested. Thank you for allowing me to seek resource and stay well and covered during all's own moment of unsteady times.

                  TwwU out.
                  I'll be honest, it sounds like you're less interested in this guy as a lawyer and more that he claims he can get projects made. Do you actually need a lawyer at this point in the process? Really feels like your time and resources would be better spent finding other ways to get this script to a real producer or a manager.

                  I may not be a full time writer, but In several years of working professionally in film/tv close to the writing and dev process I can confidently say that no one ****ing cares when the legal affairs dude slips them a script.

                  Maybe hold off on a lawyer in general until you're farther along with this project?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                    I will note these few things in as "non-catty" a fashion as I can. What someone did on a film and why they got a credit, in most cases, can't really be defined by anyone other than someone who was there and actually saw firsthand. That I can promise you. I've seen people on movies I've worked on get great credits and big checks for doing very little other than getting in the way. Also keep in mind, just because someone worked on a film doesn't mean they ever met the filmmakers, know the filmmakers or the filmmakers would even remember them. (I had to help my bosses quite a bit while on set to keep up with who the 150 plus people even were. "That's John, he's a grip." Or "She can help, she works in wardrobe." Or "Let me go talk to Danny about getting you a car.")

                    Studios have their own lawyers who do all the work for them or the heavy lifting at least. On the films I did for Fox, Paramount and Sony, their lawyers were the ones who took care of any legal stuff for us at the end of the day. Now individuals like my bosses, the actors, the writers, etc -- above the line -- all had lawyers to look over their personal contracts. But that was it. The studios had their legal teams take care of the movie. They would red line the contracts, they would point out issues, etc. They would even handle clearances, etc. at that time. Nowadays, clearances are predominantly if not completely done by outside companies or individuals. (A friend of mine does that for a living.)

                    Do you know how much we ever wanted to hear from the lawyers about scripts they had? Zero. I say that very nicely, but that was basically the number. (I say, "we" because even though it was my boss they would ask, I always had to read the material for them & do the coverage so my boss didn't have to spend time reading.) We'd read the script as a courtesy for any of my bosses' lawyers but still we generally dreaded it. There are literary agents and literary managers that send in material. That's what they are for, of course.

                    Now, can a lawyer have some contacts? Sure. Absolutely. Are there any lawyers who get attached as producers? Yes. One well-known one in particular is John Sloss. But most of the time, lawyers stay in "their lane."

                    If someone is asking for money upfront -- which in the case of a lawyer, is not unreasonable since that's how they work when someone isn't a client making the good money with numerous deals for 5% -- then it's almost certainly to cover their time and make them money. They don't want to gamble their time since most likely they are normally making anywhere from $200 to $600 an hour, for instance.

                    *Added* And what JS90 noted, too. I was typing at the same time.
                    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 04-10-2020, 09:59 AM.
                    Will
                    Done Deal Pro
                    www.donedealpro.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                      Originally posted by manfredlopez View Post
                      I would like to help clarify a couple things.

                      1. THE 5% MISCONCEPTION - I often see that people will unilaterally say that all entertainment lawyers charge this, and if they deviate from this, somehow they are out to scam you. This is simply not true. In order for a lawyer to rep someone for 5%, there has to be enough guaranteed continuous income from the writer to justify it. From their point of view, they will perform a lot of work on some deals, and not so much on others. One can never know in advance. So their commissions even out over several jobs.

                      If you're starting out, and only have ONE imminent deal with an actual money offer... They most likely still wouldn't rep you on a 5% basis. The math is just not there to justify it. Let's walk through it.
                      This has not been my experience. I felt terrible to have my lawyer negotiate the my first option contract, because there was so much I wouldn't agree to, but he told me, "This what I do, don't worry about it." The budget was $50m, but I think it was the fact that it was a referral that made more of the difference.

                      Let's say you land your very first 'real' deal. This will most likely be something around the WGA minimum and likely involve an option payment of some sort. Let's say it's a feature screenplay in the high budget category. That means the actual money being paid to the writer is $10,449 for the option, which is 10% of the WGA minimum of $104,499.

                      That means that the attorney would only earn $522.45 to get to that step if they charged 5%. Considering that most of them charge $300 to $500 an hour, we can already see how this makes no sense.
                      I have a top tier lawyer and I've never yet sold a script. He works on 5%. He has negotiated two options in which we could not come to terms with the other party. Yes, some only work on referral. A lawyer is going to negotiate you a deal with a 2.5% floor on the bonded budget and there should be at least a minimum of two steps, a polish, and first rights to refuse a sequel first draft. You can negotiate with WGA mins on your steps even if you're not in the WGA. It just depends on how valuable the purchasing party sees your project.

                      And, I know getting a referral seems impossible, but I went from having no reps to having a manager, then referred to a lawyer in a matter of weeks. It might be a better option for you to query manager with, "I have an option offer in hand and am looking for representation, can you help me?"

                      I also went to a panel at Austin Film Festival with two Entertainment Lawyers and they both said that a writer's ET lawyer should be based on 5%. Lawyers that require retainers are typically specialized lawyers for clearance & errors for insurance purposes.

                      I wouldn't pay a retainer for an entertainment lawyer. Network with other writers. Ask for referrals once you receive an offer. Hell, ask the people who offered you the option if they can refer you to an ET lawyer. You don't need a lawyer until you have an option or work for hire contract.

                      From this panel, and my own experience, my lawyer never even read my script. That's why referrals are important to them-- they don't want to waste time. That's the same thing the lawyer in the panel said-- they are not story experts and it isn't their job to determine "quality" of the writing. Their job is to negotiate the best deal for their client.


                      2. ATTORNEYS AREN'T IN THE BUSINESS OF 'BETTING' ON CLIENTS. Good attorneys are busy as hell. They perform a very specific and highly skilled service. Like plumbers, you only bring them on when you need them. They charge accordingly. If you are a money-making machine in constant need of legal services, then yes, the 5% definitely makes sense for both parties.
                      I would not seek a lawyer until you have an option/contract offer. I will say that both my projects are not at the low/independent level. They were both over $50 million budget. You should expect to pay 5% of your fees. That's the standard and unless you have expendable cash to throw around, you might have to do some serious phone/email queries. But it's your money and your project, so I'm just offering an experience-- do what is best for you.

                      But lawyers shouldn't be packaging deals with actors and such, that I've ever heard of, that's what agents do. I don't even know if it's legal for an ET lawyer to do that, actually. Manager, Lawyer and Agent responsibilities are different from each other, as far as I know.

                      I could see that if you have a film with a $500,000 budget, your fee is $12,500 and it's the first time, yeah, that might be a problem, because the lawyer is going to possibly make $625. It might not be worth their time investment if the option is sketchy. But if it's an easy contract, why wouldn't they?


                      3. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEYS. So, choose carefully. Some will be in the business of generating billable hours by servicing indie productions. Others will have a large staff to pay, and will prefer big clients. Others will be a one person shop hungry for new *paying* business. The one category which doesn't seem to exist is the successful attorney looking to do pro-bono or loss-leader work for unproven new writers. Sorry. I've tried

                      4. Lastly... DON'T HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR VANITY REASONS. I've known a few writers who feel the need to put an attorney on retainer without having any deal on the table. This could set them back up to $5,000. They usually think this helps to 'legitimize' their project. It doesn't. At the end of the day you still need a buyer interested in acquiring your goods.
                      OP, I don't see a reason why you need to accept giving a retainer. It's your decision, though. The lawyer doesn't have to LIKE your project, he just has to be an effective contract negotiator. You're not paying him/her to support your writing. You're paying them to negotiate the best deal possible. Period.

                      Just one writer's opinion.
                      FA4
                      Last edited by finalact4; 04-10-2020, 07:15 PM.
                      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                        Thank you the comments. I did and do the many queries as a way into this field and had a couple read requests after a revised log around query #27 at around 60 send outs. One being a mad collector of scripts I have read on here though, Zero Gravity Man. in late Feb.Then Corona started happening.

                        So as I do with everything I started looking at All ways that I could attack this animal called screenwriting with the intent to truly get made for many reasons sooner than later.

                        I have finished material with a few revisions that was only initiated by the reaction of one writer with significant credits in December and definitely the writer's that were approached to possibly ghost shortly after, early but had to decline because of scheduling issues for 2020. Not to be an asshatty douche, but the words used to describe were usually, Wow, incredible, and compelling with no guns to their heads when read and no reasons to lie.

                        Scripts will get many revisions but not basis of material. As a novice, reading about the teams needed to bring things to fruition, with resources to bear for this purpose, the thinking was, if I put a team together to help me whip the script/s, etc, package into shape. I will need an entertainment lawyer anyway, eventually, then I was sent this attorney model for evaluation and a conversation... It must be the former Marine/businessman not a true writer, who saw a way at getting more bang out the gate even if out of sequence.

                        I am reading and have gotten the feeling that managers/agents take on people invested in the long-term in the art. I can not guarantee this but have a product to push now that has passed some muster from your ilk. You are the true thespians not this person, who for now only wants to put something out to inspire, motivate, and entertain. I look for the pieces anywhere I can find them. Thank you for the comments and opinions for me to ponder. A query will be sent to Mr. Sloss. Thank you Done Deal Pro for that pointer.

                        TwwU
                        Last edited by The WayWard Uncle; 04-10-2020, 12:33 PM.
                        "I am an action-figure trying to scratch some things."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                          Originally posted by The WayWard Uncle View Post
                          Thank you the comments. I did and do the many queries as a way into this field and had a couple read requests after a revised log around query #27 at around 60 send outs. One being a mad collector of scripts I have read on here though, Zero Gravity Man. in late Feb.Then Corona started happening.
                          Yes, it's likely to dampen efforts, that's true.

                          So as I do with everything I started looking at All ways that I could attack this animal called screenwriting with the intent to truly get made for many reasons sooner than later.

                          I have finished material with a few revisions that was only initiated by the reaction of one writer with significant credits in December and definitely the writer's that were approached to possibly ghost shortly after, early but had to decline because of scheduling issues for 2020. Not to be an asshatty douche, but the words used to describe were usually, Wow, incredible, and compelling with no guns to their heads when read and no reasons to lie.
                          Awesome. That's great. I would ask that writer if they know of a lawyer they would recommend. Then when you need a lawyer, you can call them and say say the writer said good things about them.

                          Scripts will get many revisions but not basis of material. As a novice, reading about the teams needed to bring things to fruition, with resources to bear for this purpose, the thinking was, if I put a team together to help me whip the script/s, etc, package into shape. I will need an entertainment lawyer anyway, eventually, then I was sent this attorney model for evaluation and a conversation... It must be the former Marine/businessman not a true writer, who saw a way at getting more bang out the gate even if out of sequence.
                          Try to get a manager first. Once you have a manager they will help you get the script into shape and send it out and he'll also be able to help you get an agent and a lawyer when you have someone interested in a project. Get a producer on board and you can get a lawyer pretty quick. An agent might be more of a challenge, but with a production company on board they can help get attachments. Believe it or not, you don't need them all until you have someone who wants to buy your script. Sometimes it happens all at once, but I don't think that's the norm.

                          I am reading and have gotten the feeling that managers/agents take on people invested in the long-term in the art. I can not guarantee this but have a product to push now that has passed some muster from your ilk. You are the true thespians not this person, who for now only wants to put something out to inspire, motivate, and entertain. I look for the pieces anywhere I can find them. Thank you for the comments and opinions for me to ponder. A query will be sent to Mr. Sloss. Thank you Done Deal Pro for that pointer.
                          Managers look to develop your career, but honestly a lot of them just want the quick sale, too, so you have to be clear on your expectations if you get a manager interested in you.

                          Agents don't care about your career they care about having a product they can sell. The more salable products you have the more interested an agent will become in you. It's a money game with agents.

                          An entertainment lawyer is to negotiate the final deal and make sure that no one is taking advantage of you and that you receive the best possible deal. An agent that packages might also have an agenda that includes more than you and you may not always be the sole priority.

                          Anyway, good luck to you. It's a precarious time.
                          FA4
                          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                            Originally posted by manfredlopez View Post
                            I would like to help clarify a couple things.

                            1. THE 5% MISCONCEPTION - I often see that people will unilaterally say that all entertainment lawyers charge this, and if they deviate from this, somehow they are out to scam you. This is simply not true. In order for a lawyer to rep someone for 5%, there has to be enough guaranteed continuous income from the writer to justify it. From their point of view, they will perform a lot of work on some deals, and not so much on others. One can never know in advance. So their commissions even out over several jobs.

                            If you're starting out, and only have ONE imminent deal with an actual money offer... They most likely still wouldn't rep you on a 5% basis. The math is just not there to justify it. Let's walk through it.

                            Let's say you land your very first 'real' deal. This will most likely be something around the WGA minimum and likely involve an option payment of some sort. Let's say it's a feature screenplay in the high budget category. That means the actual money being paid to the writer is $10,449 for the option, which is 10% of the WGA minimum of $104,499.

                            That means that the attorney would only earn $522.45 to get to that step if they charged 5%. Considering that most of them charge $300 to $500 an hour, we can already see how this makes no sense.

                            2. ATTORNEYS AREN'T IN THE BUSINESS OF 'BETTING' ON CLIENTS. Good attorneys are busy as hell. They perform a very specific and highly skilled service. Like plumbers, you only bring them on when you need them. They charge accordingly. If you are a money-making machine in constant need of legal services, then yes, the 5% definitely makes sense for both parties.

                            3. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF ENTERTAINMENT ATTORNEYS. So, choose carefully. Some will be in the business of generating billable hours by servicing indie productions. Others will have a large staff to pay, and will prefer big clients. Others will be a one person shop hungry for new *paying* business. The one category which doesn't seem to exist is the successful attorney looking to do pro-bono or loss-leader work for unproven new writers. Sorry. I've tried

                            4. Lastly... DON'T HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR VANITY REASONS. I've known a few writers who feel the need to put an attorney on retainer without having any deal on the table. This could set them back up to $5,000. They usually think this helps to 'legitimize' their project. It doesn't. At the end of the day you still need a buyer interested in acquiring your goods.
                            This is patently false, as I've had two attorneys (including current one), have signed no paying deals, and they both have done work for free on the promise that I would indeed sell something and pay them their 5%. First one was with a top firm (Morris Yorn) and second its also top notch (mention this to point out I haven't worked with schmucks, but people who know what they're doing.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Brandon Blake, www.filmtvlaw.com

                              Originally posted by docgonzo View Post
                              This is patently false, as I've had two attorneys (including current one), have signed no paying deals, and they both have done work for free on the promise that I would indeed sell something and pay them their 5%. First one was with a top firm (Morris Yorn) and second its also top notch (mention this to point out I haven't worked with schmucks, but people who know what they're doing.)

                              This is just correct. Legit writers' reps do not charge money, they take percentages, even on writers without big deals ready to go. There's no "debate" to be had about that.

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