Robert A. Darwell: Lawyer with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP

Robert A. Darwell


Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

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Practice Areas

  • Entertainment
  • Technology
  • and Advertising
  • International Reach
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Sports
  • Latin American Practice
  • Advertising
  • Art
  • Fashion
  • Apparel and Beauty
  • Social Media and Games
University Sorbonne, University of Paris, French Language Program, 1985; Arizona State University, B.A., summa cum laude, 1985
Law SchoolGeorgetown University Law Center, J.D., magna cum laude, 1988
Admitted1988, California; U.S. District Court of the Central District of California


Law360's Media and Entertainment Editorial Advisory Board
•Former Co-Chair, Beverly Hills Bar Association Entertainment Law Section
•Past President, Premier Patrons of the American Cinematheque
•Board Member, Planning Committee for the UCLA Entertainment Law Symposium


Robert Darwell is a senior partner in the firm's internationally acclaimed Entertainment, Technology and Advertising Practice Group, which was recently ranked by Chambers and U.S. Legal 500 in their top tier and by Law 360 as Media and Entertainment Group of the Year.

Areas of Practice

Mr. Darwell enjoys a global practice representing major motion picture studios, television networks, independent producers, digital media companies, financial institutions, investors, financiers and other institutional and individual entertainment, media and digital clients around the world in connection with all aspects of the development, production, acquisition and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, online productions, video games and other content.

Mr. Darwell's extensive knowledge of, and experience with, the legal and business aspects of the entertainment industry allows him to provide clients with specialized services including bank and other forms of single and multiple picture production financing, including international joint ventures, co-productions, output deals and tax driven financings, copyright and other intellectual property matters, clearance/rights issues, complex chain of title review and analysis, and employment and guild matters.

Mr. Darwell counsels on, structures, and negotiates a wide variety of agreements including for the option and acquisition of literary property rights; revenue sharing agreements; affiliation agreements; library acquisitions; strategic alliances; agreements relating to equity investments in media companies; first look agreements; licensing and merchandising; sports and other live events; video game development and publishing arrangements; book publishing; recording, soundtrack, and music publishing deals; and executive employment agreements.

Mr. Darwell is the founder of the firm's advertising practice and represents and counsels advertisers and agencies in preparing endorsement and sponsorship agreements, licensing and protecting intellectual property rights, reviewing and clearing advertising copy for use in online and off-line media, complying with privacy concerns, preparing advertising agency and media agreements, and advising clients in complying with claims substantiation, ambush marketing, co-promotions, branded entertainment and state and federal regulations governing contests, sweepstakes and other promotions.

Mr. Darwell is also the founder of the firm's Fashion, Apparel and Beauty practice. He has represented labels, designers, luxury brands, retailers and manufacturers around the world, including Chanel, Gucci, Versace and Cavalli in matters involving advertising, marketing, counterfeiting and intellectual property licensing. Interested parties should visit the firm's fashion blog at

Pursuing his long time passion for the arts and Sheppard Mullin's rich art history, a few years back Mr. Darwell established the firm's art law practice, representing artists, galleries, museums, and sponsors. The firm's art law blog can be accessed at Mr. Darwell is the author of the California Law Chapter of the Art Collecting Legal Handbook.


Who's Who Legal: Sports & Entertainment, 2015
•Top Thirty Media Practitioners in the U.S., Expert Guides
•Named to Who's Who Legal: Sports & Entertainment
•CLAY Award, Attorney of the Year, Entertainment, California Lawyer
•California's Top Entertainment Lawyer, Daily Journal
•AlwaysOn Power Player in Digital Media
•Top Rated Lawyer in Technology, American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell
•20 Most Important People to Meet at AFM, The Hollywood Reporter
•Power Lawyer, The Hollywood Reporter
•Which Lawyer?, Practical Law Company, Media
•Marketing and Advertising, Legal 500
•One of Top 100 Lawyers in California, Daily Journal
•Best Lawyer in America, Advertising and Entertainment categories, Best Lawyers
•One of 40 Who's Who in Law?, LA Business Journal
•Southern California Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers
•Best of the Bar, Media and Entertainment, Los Angeles Business Journal
•Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers In America, Lawdragon Magazine
•Tier 1, Transactional Entertainment, Chambers and Partners
•500 New Worlds, New Stars, Lawdragon
•3000 Leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon


Representative Experience

•Lead entertainment counsel to Comcast in connection with its multi-billion dollar acquisition of NBC Universal.
•Represented Disney on the sale of Miramax.
•Represent French television powerhouse Banijay Entertainment in expanding its reality television empire by acquiring Stephen David Entertainment and Bunim/Murray Productions.
•Counsel to City National Bank in connection with a series of off balance sheet financing transactions for video game titles.
•Represented IAC in connection with its deal with Ben Silverman to form Electus.
•Representation of Focus Features with respect to its co-development/co-financing venture with Random House to form Random House Films.
•Represented Los Angeles Clippers in connection with multi-year telecast rights agreement.
•Lead outside counsel representing Walt Disney Company in connection with the separation of Bob and Harvey Weinstein from Miramax.
•Legal counsel to producer in the sale, distribution, financing and/or acquisition of 100s of high profile motion pictures, including Selma, American Hustle, Her, Zero Dark Thirty, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 21 Grams, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Queen, Traffic, and Brokeback Mountain.
•Entertainment counsel to USA Networks in connection with its sale of its entertainment assets to Vivendi Universal.
•Represented ABS as promoter of Manny Pacquiao boxing event in Manila, Philippines.
•Represented South Korean developer in connection with MGM theme park.
•Represented France Animation/Moonscoop in its acquisition of a majority interest in animation company Mike Young Productions.
•Counsel to private equity investor involved in Legendary slate financing arrangement at Warner; counsel to Rogue Pictures in connection with Intrepid slate financing with Rogue/Universal; and counsel to Focus Features in respect of its Twins multi-picture state financing arrangement.
•Structure and negotiate key Telemundo strategic alliances with Globo, Argos, and TV Azteca.
•Entertainment Counsel to USA Networks in connection with its acquisition of Polygram domestic library and merger with October Films to form USA Films.
•Outside general counsel to The Broad Stage.

Publications & News


•2014: The Chinese Year of the Horse
Sports Litigation Alert, August 22, 2014
•Cloning Decision Could Lead to Copycat Litigation in the World of Racing
Sports Litigation Alert, October 4, 2013
•NJ Racetrack Makes Bet of its Own Against Feds
Sports Litigation Alert, August 9, 2013
•Horse investing continues to generate high risk, high drama
Sports Business Journal, October 29, 2012
•Fashion Industry Puts On Its Game Face
Law360, October 17, 2012
•Men, Makeup And Drugs
Law360, July 25, 2012
•A Murality Play
Law360, May 14, 2012
•Congress Has Designs For Piracy Prevention Legislation
Daily Journal, August 9, 2011
•Horse Racing Industry Faces Unique Challenges In Regulating Use of Drugs
Street & Smith Sports Business Journal, November 8, 2010
•Green Sports Facilities Are Becoming the Gold Standard
Sports Litigation Alert, July 2, 2010
•Donating An Art Collection Can Be A Challenge
On Wall Street, November 1, 2009
•The Dirty Dozen - Part 2
Chain-of-title issues that may arise in the acquisition of rights for the production or development of a motion picture, video game or work dependent upon rights in copyright.
Daily Journal, September 29, 2009
•The Dirty Dozen - Part 1
Chain-of-title issues that may arise in the acquisition of rights for the production or development of a motion picture, video game or work dependent upon rights in copyright.
Daily Journal, September 22, 2009

Speaking Engagements

•Film Finance Forum East - Making the Sale: Securing Domestic and Intl. Distribution
•Beijing International Film Festival - Sino-European Co-Productions
•Cannes Film Festival - Slate Film Financing
•Miami International Film Festival - Bank, Bonding and Insurance Panel
•Milan Fashion Week - Celebrity Endorsement Deals
•Rio Film Festival - North American Production Incentives
•Shanghai International Film Festival - Doing Deals with A List Talent
•UCLA Entertainment Law Symposium - Celebrity Endorsements and Licenses
•Ventana Sur (Buenos Aires) - Remake Deals
•Zurich Film Festival - Making Movies and Generating Revenue in Today's Environment


•Facing a Blizzard of Legal Challenges as In-House Counsel
Spring 2015 New York Fashion Week
February 17, 2015
•Crisis Management in the Fashion and Retail Industry
Sheppard Mullin's Fashion Week Seminar
February 18, 2014
•Annual AFM Global Media Update
November 1, 2012 (Also at New York, N.Y. Office)


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Office Information

Robert A. Darwell

1901 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1600
Los AngelesCA 90067


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