Ziffren Brittenham

William Tell

On a Wednesday evening in January, William Tell, a 33-year-old 3L at USC Gould School of Law, was sitting in the backyard of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, a few blocks away from his apartment, sipping a scotch and munching on a bowl of pasta. At the moment, Tell is the only law student in America who goes home to the woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan — he’s engaged to Lauren Conrad, the reality TV star-turned-lifestyle entrepreneur who is regarded by many, including Martha Stewart, as being something like the next Martha Stewart.

More than a decade before his stint as a figure of tabloid fascination, Tell’s first act was as a guitarist in early ’00s pop-rock band Something Corporate, a band that was playing stadiums, arenas, and late night television shows by the time he was 22.

Clean-cut and wearing a simple grey sweater and skateboarding shoes, Tell laughs a lot but speaks with a hint of careful distance. He makes clear that he guards his privacy and would not have consented to an interview with a publication whose focus was his romantic life. But I wanted to ask Tell mostly about his unique experience as a law student, so I connected with him on LinkedIn, emailed him to explain myself, and now here we are….

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* Law firm Halloween party advice. I disagree with some of this — my “Sexy John Marshall” costume was always a hit. [Greedy Associates / FindLaw]

* The Supreme Court is expected to review a 10th Circuit decision holding that corporations are people and can exercise religious rights. Hopefully the Supreme Court stops this madness before my cable company has the right to bear arms. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Governor Chris Christie has dropped his appeal of the New Jersey court decision authorizing same-sex marriage. He finally worked out that his own homophobia wasn’t worth being on the wrong side of 61 percent of Jersey voters. [Politico]

* Let’s go get some Molly! [Law and More]

* California is tightening up its Workers’ Comp rules for former professional athletes. From now on, injured ex-jocks need to prove a more significant tie to the state to collect compensation. This presents a problem for a lot of former football players who now have to admit they played for the Raiders. [The Legal Blitz]

* Judge Smith of the New York Court of Appeals gets a scathing open letter. It’s fun when lawyers go “Flame On!” toward judges they might eventually be in front of. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Governor Rick Snyder is asking a judge to drop her request to see unredacted copies of internal emails about the search for the Detroit emergency manager. Because nothing seemed sketchy about employing a law that had been specifically repealed by Michigan voters to overturn the democratically elected leadership of a major metropolis to install a partner from a firm that just so happens to get chosen as bankruptcy counsel, earning a ton of fees from the whole affair. Nothing at all. [Detroit News]

* Guy sues Apple because he hates iOS 7. Not the dumbest suit ever brought against Apple. [BGR]

* Entertainment lawyer Harry M. Brittenham moonlights as the author of graphic novels. A lawyer writing comic books may sound like a guy living in his mom’s basement, but he’s actually married to Heather Thomas from The Fall Guy. [New York Times]

* Not everyone thinks law reviews are awful. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

Those working in the Biglaw world may think they’re living lifestyles of the rich and famous, but their prestige pales dramatically when compared to those working in the glittery world of Hollywood glamour. Let’s face the facts: rainmaking aside, being a behind-the-scenes ERISA or tax practitioner is nowhere near as fabulous as keeping Lindsay Lohan out of jail. Representing celebrity clients will catapult your name into the news and turn your practice into a household topic of conversation.

Those behind the entertainment law bar have worked with some of the most celebrated (and sometimes reviled) clients in the country, and in most cases, the world. Obviously, there should be some sort of a ranking to evaluate the top talent from this Hollywood throng of attorneys.

Luckily, the Hollywood Reporter has been in the rankings game for seven years, and this year’s list is no less entertaining than last year’s. Let’s check out the newly released list of the entertainment industry’s top 100 “power lawyers,” which we’ve dubbed the Hollywood 100….

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Before this column launched, I spent several moments stewing over possible pseudonyms. After all, branding is everything. So, I wanted to come up with a name that said to my audience that I was a small-firm expert and a super-cool chick. Naturally, I picked the name that is synonymous with post-menopausal Jewish bubbies. Perhaps I still have a thing or two to learn about branding.

I am not the only small-firm lawyer with a problem selecting the right name. Indeed, after Jay Shepherd opened my eyes to the hyphen-crisis, I began noticing a comma-crisis. Specifically, I noticed that there are a lot of small firms with way too many last names strung together with commas.

Why is it that many small firms have such problems coming up with the perfect firm name? Let’s explore this age-old question….

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Conan Leno.jpgOn Tuesday, we tuned in to the late night show debacle unfolding at NBC. On his show that night, Conan O’Brien shared insights about the lawyerly wranglings. From US Magazine:

“Hi, I’m Conan O’Brien, and I’m just three days away from the biggest drinking binge in history,” he said during Tuesday’s monologue. “I spent the afternoon at Universal Studios’ amusement park, enjoying their brand-new ride, the ‘Tunnel of Litigation.'”

Noting reports that he is legally prohibited from bad-mouthing the network behind the mess (Jay Leno is taking over O’Brien’s time slot after his prime time show was axed), O’Brien joked in his monologue Tuesday “Nobody said anything about speaking in Spanish.”

He then rails off an insult in Spanish which translates to: “NBC is run by brainless sons of goats who eat money and crap trouble.”

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the Litigation Rollercoaster Ride rolled to a stop at 1 a.m. PST, thanks to operators at Gibson Dunn and Glaser Weil.

The final deal includes a payout of approximately $32.5 million for Mr. O’Brien and roughly $12 million for his staff, according a person familiar with the matter. The agreement will allow Mr. O’Brien to appear on another network beginning Sept. 1, the person said….

NBC, which is controlled by General Electric Co., will retain the rights to at least some of the comedic material from the show, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal also includes a non-disparagement clause, both for the 46-year-old comedian and NBC, and a provision that was said to bar or limit Mr. O’Brien from appearing on others’ shows for a period of time, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

Jay Leno gets to reclaim his 11:35 p.m. show starting March 1. Meanwhile, David Letterman is probably just happy that Leno and Conan are monopolizing the late night news cycle instead of his own legal troubles.

What impact will this $45-million ruffling of the Peacock Network’s feathers have on entertainment law practices?

Two experts opine on what this means for the entertainment law industry, and the major takeaway lesson for talent lawyers, after the jump.

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