Jonathan Handel

Adjunct Professor of Law / Of Counsel, TroyGould PC / Contributing Editor, The Hollywood Reporter/ Outside Special Counsel, SAG-AFTRA

A.B., magna cum laude, Applied Math/Computer Science, 1982-83, Harvard College; J.D., cum laude, 1990, Harvard University; Member, California State Bar

Joined Southwestern: 2012

Professor Handel practices transactional enter­tainment and technology law at TroyGould in Los Angeles and is a contributing editor at The Hollywood Reporter, where he covers entertainment labor, law, and business. A former computer scientist, he was also active in local politics for over a decade.

He is the author of several books, including The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis, which tells the dramatic story of an attempt to unionize actors on The Hobbit; Hollywood on Strike!, which chronicles and analyzes the Hollywood writers strike of 2007-2008 and the ensuing Screen Actors Guild stalemate that lasted through mid-2009; Entertainment Residuals: A Full Color Guide, which describes the union reuse/royalty payments that are common in the entertainment industry; and Entertainment Unions and Guilds: An Interdisciplinary Bibliography (345 pp.).

Professor Handel is also an adjunct professor at USC Law School, and previously at UCLA Law School, and is a non-resident research fellow at Rutgers University. He has worked as a talent lawyer; as associate counsel at the Writers Guild; and as a litigator.

He is a member of the Television Academy (the group that awards the primetime Emmys), and was named by the Daily Journal as one of the top 100 lawyers in California in 2008. He has been profiled in the book social.lawyers and by the Los Angeles Business Journal and on the journalism site Muck Rack. He is also a member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild and the Society of Composers & Lyricists.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College in applied math and computer science, Handel worked in the computer industry before, during and after college. He was also involved in local politics as an elected delegate and Democratic party committee member and in gay politics; initiated, drafted and lobbied for the Cambridge, Mass. human rights (civil rights) ordinance; and served on the human rights commission that the law established to investigate and adjudicate discrimination claims.

Professor Handel then attended Harvard Law School, graduating cum laude in 1990, and clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. During 1992-1993, while a litigation associate at a Los Angeles firm, he concurrently served as a federal Associate Independent Counsel (special prosecutor) investigating alleged misconduct in the George H.W. Bush administration.

Professor Handel has written about 1,400 articles for The Hollywood Reporter and his writing has also been published in/on the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Billboard, Campaigns & Elections, Backstage, Los Angeles Business Journal, Daily Journal, HuffPost,,, and

He has appeared over 1,100 times as a commentator on entertainment and technology legal issues in international, national and local television, radio, print and online media, including ABC, CBS and NBC nightly news programs, CNN, Bloomberg News cable channel, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, NPR, BBC TV and Radio, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP, local television and radio, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand outlets, The Economist and Entertainment Weekly.

Professor Handel is also the author of a short book for technology executives, entitled How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets. His article on trademark registration for movie titles was selected as a cover article of Los Angeles Lawyer, and his law review article Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown: Why Content’s Kingdom is Slipping Away, which discusses the struggle between content and technology, appeared in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law.

He has moderated and appeared on panels and presented seminars on the entertainment industry to professional audiences in Los Angeles, Park City (at the Sundance Film Festival), Nashville (at Vanderbilt Law School), Taiwan, and Havana. For several years, he taught a film appreciation and screening class of approximately 400 students for UCLA Extension.