Marriott Harrison drops film production practice

Top media firm Marriott Harrison is abandoning its leading film production practice after losing both partners from the team.

Billy Hinshelwood is one of the top lawyers in the field and is retiring next month. He was one of the founding partners of the firm in 1985 and has acted for clients including Lucas Films and Universal Pictures.

He will remain a consultant to the firm.

Fellow partner Phil Rymer, described by some as being in the shadow of Hinshelwood, is also off to a job in-house as counsel to independent film producer and distributor Intermedia, which will remain a client of the firm.

Marriotts says it has no plans to replace the pair because film production is not the direction in which it sees its practice developing.

Managing partner Tony Morris says: “Legal advice to the film industry today is as much about the exploitation of intellectual property rights in a variety of other media and multimedia formats as it is about the production contracts to get a film off the ground in the first place.

“Billy has been a central member of the team since 1985 and of course we will all miss him. However we are not looking to replace him because of the way we see our business developing.”

But sources close to the firm say that it is abandoning the practice because it no longer has the ability to deal with it.

The source says: “As a practice area it's very economic, they just have nobody left with the ability to do it. It can be done in a highly-profitable way, and film production work is booming at the moment.”

It is understood that Hinshelwood is retiring in his mid-40s because he wants to spend more time with his family.

The practice advised Duncan Kenworthy as producer of last year's blockbuster Notting Hill, but lawyers in the industry say it is a difficult area to recruit to and it is thought that is why the firm has pulled the plug.