||Biography of Gerald F. Phillips
Distinguished, accomplished and skilled, Gerald F. Phillips is regarded as one of the most experienced attorneys in mediation and arbitration in the country and is best known for his work within the entertainment industry, a medium where he has spent nearly 40 years.
Phillips has combined his two professional passions: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Ethics. Phillips turned his life-long commitment to "resolution of all disputes through ethical solutions" into effective ADR advocacy. For instance, Phillips convinced the Beverly Hills Bar Association to write to the California Revision Commission urging it to make it mandatory for lawyers to advise clients about the advantages and disadvantages of ADR. Phillips is presently taking his crusade to other bar associations in California and eventually plans to take it nationwide.
For his professional, philanthropic and community work in both fields, Phillips has received numerous accolades, including most recently being listed among the "Top 50 Neutrals in California" by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. He is also the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Griffen Bell award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Services, Inc. (DRS).
Phillips is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Dispute Resolution Council (CDRC) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Dispute Resolution Services, Inc. In the past, he has served as Chair of the ADR committee, Founder and presently Chair of the Entertainment ADR Committee of the ABA Dispute Resolution Section, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Beverly Hills Bar Association ADR Section.
One of his most noteworthy achievements during the past couple of years has been his work in helping to establish the College of Commercial Arbitrators, where he is currently a member of its executive committee. The organization is national in scope and has been formed for the purpose of advancing the practice of arbitration and guiding practitioners in its use. Currently the College has more than 100 highly regarded arbitrators dedicated to enhance the use of mediation and arbitration.
It is Gerald Phillips who many in film, television and music seek out when disputes have no resolution in sight—when those involved have exhausted conventional means, and when costly litigation appears to be invisible. Although he originally concentrated on entertainment disputes, today his talents are employed in mediating and arbitrating of all commercial controversies.
In terms of entertainment disputes, few equal Phillips’ experience and talent. Phillips’ savvy is perhaps attributed to his movie ancestry. For five generations, and for 100 years, the motion picture industry has been part of the Phillips’ family legacy. It began before the turn of the last Century when four families came to this country from Hungry. They had surnames of Klein, Rosenbluh, Fox and Zukor. The families became intertwined when Louis Rosenbluh, William Klein’s brother-in-law married Eva Leo, the sister-in-law of William Fox. Rosenbluh joined his brother-in-law’s company, Fox Film Corporation, as a district manager in New York. Zucker later merged his famous Players-Laskey Company with Paramount.
The family recalls that Rosenbluh and Fox approached William Klein as a potential investor in one of Fox’s first theatres in New York. Klein declined but did loan Fox $5,000- a tremendous sum of money in those days.
Klein’s daughter Helen, married a young struggling lawyer, Louis Phillips. Rosenbluh, now Phillips’ uncle by marriage, arranged for Phillips to meet the New York executives of the various motion pictures distributors. Louis Phillips soon began to represent film distributors in New York. Thus the second generation of the family entered the film business. Small world, as it always is -Zukor asked Lou Phillips to join Paramount’s legal department, but Phillips was torn. He wanted to maintain his own law firm but also wanted the challenge that would be his at an exploding film company. Zukor agreed. He could do both. To help carry the load, Phillips invited a dynamic new attorney to partner with him---his name was Louis Nizer, who became one of the great trial lawyers of the 20th century. This freed Phillips to rise in the ranks of Paramount where he eventually became Vice President and General Counsel. At the same time he remained an active partner in his firm.
Lou Phillips’ nephew, Robert Benjamin (Lou’s sister’s son) was raised in the Phillips’ household. Bob joined his uncle’s firm and together with Arthur Krim became partners of Phillips & Nizer. The firm’s name was then changed to Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin & Krim. Later Ballon (Charles Ballon) was added to the firm’s name. Benjamin and Krim in 1951 took over control of United Artists Corporation. Benjamin became Chairman and Krim President.
Following the precedent of Louis Phillips to remain a partner of the firm after joining Paramount, Benjamin and Krim remained partners at the law firm while they were officers of UA. Gerald F. Phillips joined UA in 1951 becoming the third generation of this illustrious family to enter the industry. From the early 50’s to the 80’s he supervised all litigation against UA and was part of the crack litigation team fielding over 1000 suits against the company. Some of the more notable cases included: United States v. Paramount Pictures et. Al (involved only after 1950); Viking Theatre Corp. v. Loew’s Inc., et. Al.; Eagle Lion Inc. et al v. Loew’s et. Al.; Orbo Nizer in many cases. He chaired the Law Committee of the Motion Picture Association of America during the period 1975-1980. He credits his work in those complicated lawsuits as the major reason that he desired to resolve disputes in a more civilized manner, mediation and arbitration rather than court litigation. Like his father, Gerald maintained his relationship with the firm, first as an associate then a partner.
What fascinated Gerald Phillips most about the industry, were its complex and entangled disputes. Those cases on which he worked had all the drama and excitement of classic Hollywood dramas. Some included high profile stars such as John Garfield while others featured powerful studio heads. Some of those cases are landmark cases in First Amendment, copyright, censorship and anti-trust.
Some years later, Gerald became Chairman of the Legal Committee of the Motion Picture Association of America. He was counsel to the New York Film Board of Trade, an organization of motion picture distributors in New York, founded by his father. Louis Nizer followed Louis Phillips as the Film Board’s Executive Secretary and General Counsel. Gerald became a Vice President of UA in charge of special Markets in 1976 and was introduced by the then current president of UA, as the "Vice President of the future" for introducing and supervising the licensing of the company’s films to pay cable and videocassettes and its merchandising department. He made the first film agreement in the cable industry with the fledgling HBO, and the first agreement for the distribution of motion pictures with the videocassette industry.
Mayor Edward Koch of New York City appointed Phillips as "in love with the law." "The law was not to him a professional activity." Nizer further wrote, "his exquisite sense of right and wrong motorized his legal conduct. He was fanatically honest in motive, word and deed." Gerald Phillips has followed his father’s teachings and footprints.
Phillips turned to ADR in 1990 after he and his wife Francine moved to California to be with their daughter and son. He became an arbitrator for AFMA, formerly American Film Marketing Association, and the American Arbitration Association. He presently serves on the AFMA panel of arbitrators as well as the AAA Los Angeles Large, Complex Case Program, its Commercial/Business, Mediation Panel and its Entertainment Panel. Phillips is also a member of the PR Institute for Dispute Resolution and the California Lawyers for the Arts panel of arbitrators.
Phillips regularly speaks at bar association meetings on ADR related matters and ethics. Devoted to the "resolution of all disputes through ethical solutions" he has written extensively on why entertainment disputes are uniquely suitable for mediation and arbitration and why ADR is the more civilized way to resolve disputes. It is clearly the wave of the future. His articles have appeared in such publications as; Verdicts & Settlements - Los Angeles Daily Journal; Entertainment Law & Sports Lawyer; Los Angeles Lawyer; ADR Report; Business Law News; California Law Business; Dispute Resolution Journal; California Lawyer and the ABA Professional Lawyer. He partly covered his career in the motion picture industry in an article that he wrote for the Los Angeles Lawyer, "The Five Cases Which Shook Hollywood." (with a foreword by Louis Nizer). Pulling from his rich heritage and using the expertise he has amassed over the years, Phillips offers ideas and solutions that disputants are able to use to settle their controversy.
Phillips is currently working on a book tentatively entitled "My Life as an Attorney in the Entertainment Industry." The book will trace his career as an associate at the prestigious entertainment firm of Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin Krim and Ballon (now Phillips & Nizer), his days a transactional lawyer, as counsel to the J. Arthur Rank US Company and the vital role that he played in six landmark entertainment cases; as a vice president of United Artists, where he was a pioneer in licensing films to the cable and video cassette industries; his move to California where he became a mediator and arbitrator, bringing his experience in the film world to resolve the image of lawyers by helping to settle industry disputes I what he refers to as a more civilized manner to resolve conflicts. He recently embarked on a road to rekindle pride in the profession and restore the practice of law to the respected position it once occupied by writing and speaking about ethics in the profession.
Presently, an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Law where he teaches an advance course in ADR in the entertainment industry. He also has lectured at many other schools including UCLA Law School, Harvard Law School, Fordham University Law School, Columbia Law School and Whittier Law School, The Amos Tuck School of Business and the John Anderson School of Business at UCLA. Additionally he has lectured at both Tel Aviv University Law and Business Schools and the Law School at Hebrew University.
He recently wrote an article for the Dispute Resolution Services Newsletter, "The Client Has the Right to be Advised By Counsel About ADR" which was followed up by an article in the Daily Journal "Moving Forward" and a lengthy article on this subject in the ABA Professional Journal "The Obligation of Attorneys to Inform Clients About ADR".
He regularly, as a mediator, brings parties together in diverse conflicts including entertainment, copyright, discrimination, breach of contract and real estate controversies. In a breach of a partnership agreement-which was on appeal-he was able to help the parties resolve their suit. In another, which involved a Korean vs. American enterprise, an award was enforced in a court in Seoul for the American Company.
Gerald Phillip’s son, Louis M. Phillips, has carried on the rich heritage in the film business. He is now Executive Vice President of Physical Production, Post Production, and Music at Phoenix Pictures. Gerald Phillip’s grandson and Louis’ son Bobby appeared in a feature motion picture. Thus the family has been in the entertainment Industry for five generations. Gerald’s daughter, Stacy, a leading family law attorney, has represented many celebrities through her law firm, Phillips, Lerner & Lauzon where Gerald serves "Of Counsel."
Phillips has in recent years been called upon to be an expert witness and an arbitrator in fee disputes between a client and the attorney. He penned an article "Time Bandits" which was published in the Los Angeles Lawyer. This article earned him a spot on the cover of the Journal in 2001 for his superb commentary on billing issues that arise in fee disputes. He has since been seated on that prestigious law journal’s editorial board. Since then he has written pieces that focus on billing disputes including an article for House Counsel magazine in the fall of 2001, "Checking the Bill." An extensive article that he wrote, "Reviewing A Law Firm’s Billing Practices" appeared in The Professional Lawyer, published by the American Bar Association. Taking a somewhat different position he wrote two articles for the Century City Bar Association on the same subject, "More Friendly Billing Services" and another "Build a Better Client Relationship Through the Retainer Agreement." He subsequently addressed a luncheon group in Century City on these articles.
Gerald Phillips graduated from Darmouth College with an AB degree and an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College. He also holds a JD from Cornell University Law School. He is admitted to practice in both New York and California.
Gerald, along with his wife Francine and his daughter Stacy established the Phillips Family Fund at Darmouth Ethics Institute to honor his parents. The Fund is now helping to fund the schools’ "Ethics Across Curriculum" (EATC) program, in which the Institute galvanizes the faculty to teach ethics in every course throughout the College, including Business, Medical and Engineering schools. The Phillips Family Fund also gives a prize each year to the student at the College who writes the best paper on an ethical issues and it also provides for an internship at the Institute. The Fund will also give an award to the student in the Amos Tuck Business School who writes the winning paper on ethics and business.
Through his dedication to legal ethics and ADR he endeavors to improve the image of lawyers. To him it is not just a matter of professional or personal pride. He believes that the public’s belief in our judicial system ultimately affects their faith in our democracy.