As a litigator and transactional lawyer for more than 20 years, Mr. Philips has counseled and advocated on behalf of clients in industries including entertainment, branding, licensing, catastrophic injury and death, labor and employment, music and television production and distribution, electronic payments, beverages, and business development, all of which has afforded him the degree of expertise necessary to tackle complex problems and work efficiently to achieve meaningful solutions.
Mr. Philips began his legal career as a judicial extern for the Honorable James M. Ideman at the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and has since then zealously managed complex litigation against some of the nation’s largest and most powerful corporations, including but not limited to Glaxo Wellcome, General Motors, Yamaha, Universal Music Group, Ford Motor Company, MGM, Polaris, Nike, Apple, Sony, EMI, Club Car, Sumitomo Chemical Company, Dow Chemical, Specialized Bicycles, and various insurance carriers and governmental entities.
He has also crafted, negotiated, and finalized complex transactions in the entertainment, business, music, television, and manufacture and production industries, from the inception of deal point discussions through deployment.
In the mid-1990s, Mr. Philips was selected as a member of a team of attorneys successfully representing residents of Hinkley, California in massive litigation against utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric. Mr. Philips’ work on the case contributed to his clients receiving more than $300,000,000.00 in resolution of the action. The case is now legend, having been retold in the 2000 feature film “Erin Brockovich.”
In 2000, in a federal action filed against New York Life Insurance Company, Mr. Philips was again selected to assist in leading a small team of attorneys at one of California’s largest insurance bad faith litigation firms. The case was filed following failed negotiations directed at obtaining life insurance policy benefits for heirs of survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The action settled for more than $20,000,000.00.
In 2001, Mr. Philips was approached by a group of policyholders to file a complex action against a major insurer following the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake. Mr. Philips’ representation in that action contributed to the matter resolving for more than $7,000,000.00.
In the early 2000s, Mr. Philips was also a certified NFL Player Agent representing professional athletes in negotiations with NFL teams and various sponsors.
Mr. Philips has also represented and advised numerous high-profile celebrity music, film, television and stage performers. In 2004, Mr. Philips successfully represented a celebrity client in large-scale litigation against Zsa Zsa Gabor that garnered international media attention and coverage.
In 2013, Mr. Philips filed a class action against Nike, Inc. and Apple Inc. over their marketing and design of the Nike+ FuelBand, alleging on behalf of what became a national class, that the two technology and fitness giants had together misled the public regarding their product’s capabilities. The case resulted in an amicable resolution for a class of more than 1,000,000 people throughout the United States.
From 2013 through 2015, Mr. Philips successfully represented the interests of the family of legendary songwriter, composer, and performer Marvin Gaye, in a high-profile federal copyright infringement action against Universal Music Group and music superstar personalities Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and T.I., resulting in a verdict in favor of the Gaye family in the amount of $7.4M – believed to be the largest music copyright infringement verdict in recorded legal history. Mr. Philips continued his representation of the Gaye family through several successful 9th Circuit appeals, culminating in 2018 in a landmark published opinion that has shaped the recent evolution of federal intellectual property law.
Also in 2015, Mr. Philips was hand-selected to successfully defend the nation’s most well-known fertility clinic in an action filed against his client and actress Sophia Vergara. The litigation concerned first impression legal issues pertaining to technology and one’s right to the possession of frozen embryos, and resulted in repeated international media attention focused on the question of whether Mr. Philips’ client and Ms. Vergara would be required to assist the plaintiff in his quest to bring to life cryogenically-preserved embryonic material created by Ms. Vergara and himself. Mr. Philips’ work on the case, in concert with Ms. Vergara, contributed to the plaintiff unilaterally dismissing his California legal pursuit.
In 2016, Mr. Philips filed litigation that earned national media attention over a “sucker punch” attack on Jordan Peisner, a California teen whose permanent injuries resulting from the attack forever changed his life. Mr. Philips worked closely with legislators, simultaneously with the filing of Jordan’s lawsuit, to introduce California Assembly Bill 1542, which ultimately became California Penal Code section 667.95, now known as “Jordan’s Law.” Jordan’s Law is a first-in-the-nation statute designed to deter the commission of social media-motivated felonies by maximizing the sentence for those who conspire with violent offenders to videotape the commission of a crime. AB 1542 was signed into law in record time, just 10 months after the attack for which Mr. Philips sued.
In 2017 Mr. Philips successfully represented a principal actor from Peter Jackson’s $3.1B “The Hobbit” franchise in intellectual property litigation centered on his client’s trademark infringement claims.
Also in 2017, Mr. Philips filed a first-of-its-kind action, single-handedly taking on the world’s largest talent agency and its agent in a landmark #metoo action, on behalf of an actress alleging sexual battery, gender violence, harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of her agent’s conduct and the agency’s related action and inaction. The case’s filing resulted in several Hollywood Reporter and other industry articles, and marked a turning point in the entertainment industry’s recognition not only of the depth of Hollywood’s sexual harassment culture, but of the industry’s deep gender disparity in positions of power.
In 2022, Mr. Philips was hand-selected by fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels to represent her in a major professional malpractice action against one of the largest law firms in the world. The matter went to trial, and was resolved before Ms. Michaels’ first witness ever completed his testimony.
Mr. Philips has represented entertainment industry executives in employment negotiations with major studios, has advised and represented corporate clients in entity formations and transactions, as well as in matters of corporate governance, and has managed the registration of trademarks and copyrights in both business and entertainment contexts.
He has also had the good fortune to represent and negotiate complex transactions on behalf of not only Grammy-winning musicians and producers, but also domestic and international songwriters, producers, models, television and film personalities, and authors, in transactional affairs surrounding matters such as endorsements, branding, licensing, real estate, book and publishing deals, and manufacturing and production.
LECTURES, MEDIA, LEGISLATION, AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Mr. Philips has been invited to speak at legal education seminars for other attorneys, has appeared as a guest legal analyst on several local television stations and programs in the Los Angeles market, has served at the request of the Los Angeles Superior Court as a mediator for the Court’s CRASH Settlement Program, and has written numerous articles for nationally distributed business publications on topics of state and federal business law. Outside of the law, Mr. Philips honed his presentation skills in the early 2000s giving motivational presentations to hundreds of salespeople at a time at seminars conducted throughout Southern California.
Mr. Philips is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and the Beverly Hills Bar Association, a past member of the Board of Directors of the JordanStrong Foundation, a California-based non-profit foundation focused on anti-bullying efforts and education, and a past advisor to The 100 Percenters, a entertainment industry non-profit aimed at advancing the rights of marginalized songwriters and other creatives.
Believing in the power of positivity and a sometimes brash approach has served Mr. Philips well over the course of his decades-long career as a staunch advocate, a mentor to young lawyers, and a visionary driver of progressive business building.
In his spare time, Mr. Philips is happily busy with his family, which includes his wife and five children. He is an avid music, basketball and football fan, hopeful amateur drummer, and jiu-jitsu practitioner.