Jonathan Handel Biography

(Note: This bio is no longer updated. See for current info.)

Jonathan Handel (, practices transactional enter­tainment and technology law at TroyGould in Los Angeles and is a contributing editor for The Hollywood Reporter, where he covers entertainment labor and select other matters. He is also a former computer scientist and was involved in local politics for a decade.
Handel is also the author of the forthcoming book Entertainment Residuals: A Full Color Guide, which describes the union reuse/royalty payments that are common in the entertainment industry, and the 2011 book 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.
Handel is a Lecturer in Law at USC Law School for Fall 2012 and will be an adjunct professor in 2013 at Southwestern Law School, where he previously taught in January 2012. He has also been an adjunct professor at UCLA Law School. Handel has previously worked as a talent lawyer; as associate counsel at the Writers Guild; and as a litigator.
Handel is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 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 by Jayne Navarre and by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
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; drafted and lobbied for passage of 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.
Handel then attended Harvard Law School, graduating cum laude in 1990, and then 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 Bush administration.
Handel’s writing has been published in/on the Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Business Journal, Daily Journal, Huffington Post, and
Handel has appeared as a commentator on entertainment and technology legal issues and on Hollywood guilds about 750 separate times in international, national and local television, radio, print and online media, including ABC, CBS and NBC nightly news programs, Bloomberg News cable channel, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, NPR, BBC radio, local television and radio, Canadian television, wire services, The Economist, Entertainment Weekly and, notably, The Defamer and the London Star tabloid.
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 the cover article of the April 2008 issue 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 April 2009 in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law.
Handel 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 (approximately 400 students) for UCLA Extension.