MGM lawyer joins SJ Berwin to boost US film studio work

SJ Berwin‘s media and communications group is looking forward to a major growth in US-generated work following the appointment of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s senior vice president of legal.

US-qualified Patty Mayer, who is part of the film family, joins the London office on 22 January as a senior lawyer, but is expected to make partnership after requalifying in the UK.

MGM is a longstanding SJ Berwin client but Mayer says she hopes her move will bring the firm more work from MGM and other studios. Richards Butler and Olswang are also among MGM’s UK advisers, but Mayer says that SJ Berwin has recently taken a more prominent role.

Mayer brings extensive experience in the Los Angeles studio system. She says: “I think this is a good match in terms of what SJ Berwin has and what I can contribute after 12 years with a major motion picture producer.”

She adds: “I am looking forward to my new role and to providing a link between the European and US media and entertainment sectors.”

Nigel Palmer, head of media and communications at SJ Berwin, says that 25 per cent of the group’s film and television work comes directly from the US, a figure that is now expected to rise.

Palmer says the hire is particularly timely given the prospect of industrial action in Hollywood. He says: “If the strikes go ahead we think there will be an increase in production work in Europe towards the end of the year. US companies will be looking particularly at UK law firms.”

But he adds: “We are not just looking ahead at the strike. We want to consolidate and strengthen our capability to deal with US companies.”

The SJ Berwin group is made up of three partners and 11 other fee-earners.

Jay Rakow, MGM’s general counsel, says: “We are disappointed that Patty is leaving us, but delighted that her talents will be available to the international media community.” Two of the company’s existing lawyers will take on Mayer’s role.