Hollywood loves Munger, Tolles & Olson.
This past year, the firm represented movie studios that won an injunction against movie-filtering service VidAngel, which sold a technology allowing people to remove content from movies users found offensive. The firm also beat back a novel copyright suit against Warner Bros. and TMZ over video footage posted by the gossip site brought by Sisyphus Touring Inc., the professional loan-out company for actor and musician Jared Leto. (The footage featured Leto in his recording studio discussing Taylor Swift.) The firm also scored a defense win for the co-founders of Beats Electronics in a suit alleging $300 million in damages.
Munger litigators Kelly Klaus and Robert Dell Angelo told The Recorder how the firm keeps Hollywood clients happy.
What do each of these cases the firm is being recognized for demonstrate about Munger’s entertainment litigation capacities? From our earliest days, Munger, Tolles & Olson has been a trusted adviser to major media and entertainment companies. As the industry evolves, new technologies and profit models emerge, and legal issues change. Our lawyers have the intellectual curiosity and excellence to bring in-depth knowledge of the issues and the novel thinking needed to help clients untangle their most complicated cases.
From the studios’ various copyright disputes to the securities claims brought against high-profile media executives, our lawyers are versatile practitioners who are known for helping clients navigate their most difficult litigation.
These particular cases and others demonstrate that we excel in various types of complex litigation and at all facets of the litigation process. Our lawyers know our clients’ industries, services and products; they are excellent litigation managers; and they are always looking for ways to achieve excellent results for our clients.
To take just one example, the VidAngel case raised a number of legal and technological issues related to streaming content. We were able to explain the technology and develop the facts and legal analysis, understand the applicable law and brief it well. We are proud of the work we did presenting a compelling case to the district court and the court of appeals.
Entertainment law is a unique area where powerful boutique firms largely dominate the scene. How is Munger, a firm with a larger regional and national footprint, able to compete in the entertainment litigation space? We help our clients solve their most difficult and important legal challenges. Clients tend not to hire us for run-of-the-mill matters. They choose us for cases that have far-reaching legal and business implications and that require the creative thinking and hard work our lawyers consistently deliver.
We find that our clients in the media and entertainment industry—like our clients across a wide range of industries—operate on a global level; they appreciate lawyers, like those at our firm, who have a national and in some cases international practice. The entertainment industry remains in a period of unprecedented change, in which the scale and speed of distribution is giving rise to new and complex legal challenges. Our lawyers have long partnered with the most innovative and cutting-edge companies. We bring focus, hard thinking and hard work to all of our clients.
How important is it for the firm to have experts in technology on board as media companies shift the ways they deliver content and see the legal issues they face change accordingly? It is critical for us to have lawyers who understand our media and entertainment clients’ technology and their overall business. Whether we are advising on a case that involves the infringement or exercise of rights over the internet or a contract dispute, our lawyers acquire a deep understanding of how the technology works, and the legal consequences that flow from changes in the technology, in order to litigate the case effectively.
From day one, we have hired lawyers who are extraordinarily intelligent and inherently attracted to solving complicated problems. Our lawyers thrive when given the opportunity to learn, investigate and dissect new technologies and untangle the challenging legal issues that often surround them.
With so few cases going to trial these days, how do you make sure that new lawyers in the practice get chances to build their skills, especially when it comes to oral advocacy and taking witness testimony? At Munger, Tolles & Olson, it has long been our practice to hire immensely talented and ambitious lawyers and give them opportunities early on to develop client and judicial confidence. Our junior attorneys are given positions of responsibility, trust and direct client engagement and empowered to assume leadership roles in client matters far earlier than at other firms.
Our low leverage also provides new lawyers the opportunity to take on greater responsibility early in their careers. Our one-to-one partner-to-associate ratio means all of our lawyers, regardless of seniority, play critical roles in every matter.
In addition, senior attorneys regularly seek opportunities for clients to work directly with younger lawyers so they can build relationships, rapport and trust. Junior attorneys at our firm have taken and defended key depositions and served as first- or second-chair at trial. We actively work to position junior attorneys as thought leaders to our clients and strategic partners on the case.