Michael Jackson and the Lawyers

Briefcase Blog – John Bowie – For entertainment, criminal, civil and several commercial lawyers, the death of Michael Jackson was a bit like the disappearance of Lehman Bros for commercial lawyers in London, New York and elsewhere. More so, actually. Weird as he surely was, Michael Jackson’s talent was nevertheless other-worldly, both on- and off-stage. That, of course, provides much legal fodder. On the web scene, we hadn’t seen anything remotely like it since Saddam swung. Our New Zealand site took over 3000 unique visitors on the afternoon of his death for just one MJ story while the US LawFuel site when spare. One of his lawyers, John Branca, belongs to the LA entertainment law powerhouse Ziffren Brittenham et al, who not only represent more artists, groups and studios than just about anyone but are also reputed to have the longest firm name in America, with Branca number 3 out of 10 on the shingle, one being double-barrelled. I once met Branca in the ZBBFG-LSCJL&W offices in Century City when I was studying entertainment law at UCLA and looking at possible employment prospects. Some chance. He was under threat of being crushed by a metre-high stack of documents on his desk which, upon enquiry, he told me were contracts for “Prince’s European tour.” He was then busily acting on matters relating to the Elvis Presley estate, so there will be some good precedents there. He was subsequently fired and re-appointed by Jackson to handle his IP and entertainment law issues, of which there were many. I’ll always remember that visit for the size of the Prince documents stack and also for running into Steve Martin in the foyer.

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