Susan Williams is a partner in the Entertainment and Media practice of Paul Hastings and is based in the firm’s Century City office. She is co-chair of the firm’s Entertainment and Media Finance group.
Highly regarded as one of the entertainment industry’s top dealmakers, Ms. Williams is frequently sought to represent clients on some of their most significant finance and restructuring transactions. Ms. Williams represents financial institutions, senior, mezzanine, and equity funds, major independent production companies, and high-net-worth individuals in a wide variety of capital transactions involving film and television content.
Her vast experience includes overall company capital raises, slate financings, first and second lien financings, single-picture production loans, print and advertising financing, securitizations, structured financing transactions, co-productions, and domestic and foreign tax-incentivized financings, as well as distressed debt and restructuring transactions. She handles numerous transactions involving new and emerging distribution platforms and represents companies at the intersection of entertainment, media, and technology that are involved in various content transactions, including distribution and co-financing agreements with major studios and with international distribution companies. In addition, she has significant experience handling private equity, M&A, and joint ventures, and has extensive experience successfully guiding secured creditors through the unique issues surrounding entertainment and media assets in bankruptcy.
Widely recognized as one of the most influential women in Hollywood, Ms. Williams has been named multiple times to The Hollywood Reporter’s annual “Power Lawyers” list of the 100 most influential entertainment attorneys in America, has been repeatedly recognized in Variety’s annual “Dealmakers Impact,” “Legal Impact,” and “Women’s Impact” issues, and has been repeatedly named among the Daily Journal’s Top Women Lawyers. She is also ranked by Chambers USA in California Media & Entertainment, where clients note that she is “highly experienced in the entertainment space” and a “very strong technical lawyer who also brings a commercial sensibility to the legal aspects” of the industry.
Beyond her legal accomplishments, Ms. Williams dedicates a significant portion of her time to mentoring and serving as a role model to the next generation of female lawyers. She is a partner advisor to our Women’s Paul Hastings Affinity Network whose mission is to promote inclusion, while providing various leadership, professional, and business development opportunities for women at the firm. She is also a regular speaker on promoting women in the legal profession.
- Recognized as part of the “Paul Hasting’s Transactional team” in the Legal Impact Report by Variety (2023)
- Recognized as “2023 Power Lawyer of the Year” by The Hollywood Reporter (2023)
- Named among The Hollywood Reporter’s "Top Dealmakers of 2022"
- Named among “Top Women Lawyers” in California by the Daily Journal (2016; 2020)
- Winner of award for “Best in Media & Entertainment Award” by Euromoney Legal Media Group, Women in Business Law Awards (2019)
- Named “Southern California Super Lawyer” in Entertainment & Sports by Thomson Reuters (2014–2019)
- Recognized among “Women of Influence” by Best Lawyers (2015–2018)
- Named one of “Hollywood’s Top 20 Dealmakers” by The Hollywood Reporter (2016; 2018)
- Named one of “Hollywood’s Top 100 Power Lawyers” by The Hollywood Reporter (2013–2015, Since 2017)
- Named “Top Dealmaker” in Variety’s “Dealmakers Impact Report” (Since 2014 )
- Named in the Guide to the World’s Leading Women in Business Law for Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Legal Media Group (2014 edition)
- Named in Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, in California Media & Entertainment (Since 2013)
- Named among top entertainment attorneys in Variety’s “Legal Impact Report” (Since 2013)
- Named “Best Lawyer” in Entertainment Law, The Best Lawyers in America (Since 2010)
- Named one of the most influential women in entertainment in Variety’s “Women’s Impact Report” (2009)
- Honored as Women’s Image Network’s Outstanding Woman (WOW!) for 2006
- University of Southern California, Gould School of Law, J.D., 1986
- Tufts University, B.A. (cum laude), 1983
Ms. Williams has worked on some of the most significant financing and restructuring representations in the entertainment and media industry, including:
- Represented Fox Entertainment in its acquisition of MarVista Entertainment, a leading independent producer of TV movies.
- Represented Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Inc., in the minority investment made by Candle Media, the Blackstone backed venture led by Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs.
- Represented Comerica Bank in an amendment and restatement of its loan to Park County, the company holding the interests of Trey Parker and Matt Stone in South Park and Book of Mormon, among other assets.
- Represented MidCap Financial in a loan to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSSE), a publicly held entertainment production and distribution company. CSSE acquired the film and television assets of Sonar Entertainment, including an extensive film and television library of more than 1000+ titles. The company received a USD20 million secured credit facility, agented by MidCap Financial, the proceeds of which were used to fund part of the purchase price for the Sonar assets.
- Represented Truist Bank (formerly SunTrust Bank) as agent for itself and a consortium of syndicated lenders in the U.S. and Canada, in the recent receivership and administration proceedings in the U.K. and Canada involving Kew Media Group, including representing Truist Bank and the receiver in selling the rights to Kew Media Distribution’s library of 1,000 titles to Quiver Entertainment and in connection with Imagine Entertainment’s substantial investment and ownership stake in Jigsaw Productions, co-owned by Kew.
- Represented Vine Alternative Investments in multiple transactions, including in connection with the emergence from French safeguard proceedings of EuropaCorp S.A., one of the leading independent film studios in Europe, and with the acquisition of the 300-title Lakeshore Entertainment film and television library and Lakeshore International’s sales operations.
- Represented HYBE (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) in its acquisition of Ithaca Holdings.
- Represented Bank of America, as agent for itself, and a consortium of syndicated lenders in the bankruptcy of Open Road Films and its sale in bankruptcy of its assets to an independent motion picture company.
Represented Sight Unseen Pictures in respect to the financing of its motion picture Bad Education, starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney.
- Member of Law360's 2019 Media and Entertainment Editorial Advisory Board
- Member Emeritus, UCLA Entertainment Symposium Advisory Committee
- Guest Lecturer, USC Law School
- Parents’ Council, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
- Member, Women in Film