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How can I find a Pro Bono/ contingency fee entertainment lawyer? I live in Orlando FL.

Orlando, FL |

I recently pitched a reality show to someone and without my consent they developed my entire idea into a reality series, I was given absolutely no credit and I wanted to find out if I have a case. I did find an entertainment lawyer who said he would compose a letter on my behalf for $200 asking them to either pay up or face me in court but said he would not be able to represent me in court and that i would cost me heavily. How can I find a lawyer who will help me out even with no money to put upfront at this time?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. You need a very strong case, as well as a very successful defendant, to get a contingency fee lawyer for what's likely to be an expensive case. That's why the most common contingency cases are personal injuries, where liability is clear and the main issue to be negotiated or litigated is damages. Your proposed case is one of idea submission, or implied in fact contract, under FL law, and these are difficult cases even in plaintiff-friendly CA, in terms of both liability and damages.

    If you're serious about shopping for a lawyer, prepare 1) a timeline of events showing the detail of what, when, how and to whom you disclosed your show, and 2) a point by point summary of the similarities and differences of your show and the TV show that was produced.

    Be aware that the idea itself is difficult to protect, even with a non-disclosure agreement, unless your idea's expression is very well developed with copyrightable elements. That means it has to have unique and original parts, not just things that all or many reality shows have.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Pamela's answer is right on the money, but I want to point out to other readers on this site that your story stresses the need to invest a little money up front to meet with a qualified lawyer in your area to protect whatever intellectual property rights you may have in your idea. A confidentiality agreement and/or even just a signed acknowledgment of your idea submission would have gone a long way to protecting you and would likely have cost you less than $1,000. You may also find a lawyer who will use a hybrid agreement, so much up front and then the rest on a percentage basis. That way you at least have a cap on your out-of-pocket expenses.

  3. Consider contacting your local chapter of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VAL).

    VAL Chapters are independent and set their own guidelines regarding eligibility and scope of representation.

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