In his “Santa Monica Goes Hollywood” feature piece on KWIKA, Daily Journal reporter Matthew Blake zeroed in on the power packed into a small firm with veteran legal talent capable of competing on any litigation stage. The article focused on the entertainment portion of KWIKA’s practice, with supporting commentary from fellow lawyers in Los Angeles. “They are a first class firm with an excellent reputation and a deep bench, adept at business litigation and criminal defense,” said entertainment-focused litigator Neville L. Johnson of the Beverly Hills-based Johnson & Johnson LLP.
Reporter Blake contrasted KWIKA’s client base with the Century City household-name entertainment law giants, showing how KWIKA tends to be on the opposite side of the dispute by representing individuals against movie studios or television broadcasters. For example, founding partner Dale Kinsella heads up a KWIKA cadre representing Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont against AMC Networks.
When Ziffren Brittenham’s John Branca was appointed co-executor of Michael Jackson’s estate in 2009, he asked KWIKA founding partner Howard Weitzman to represent the estate. “I have worked with Howard Weitzman and his partners at KWIKA for many years, so when Michael Jackson died in 2009, I felt comfortable calling on Howard to act as an attorney for the estate.”
But entertainment law is not the only area where KWIKA outperforms. In the firm’s intellectual property zone, founding partner Larry Iser drew national attention when he went after the campaign of 2008 presidential candidate John McCain on behalf of Jackson Browne for using the singer’s “Running on Empty” without permission. Iser and his KWIKA team achieved a settlement with the McCain campaign, the Ohio Republican Party and the Republican National Committee, plus a public apology whereby the Republican camp pledged “to respect and uphold the rights of artists and to obtain permissions and/or licenses for copyrighted works where appropriate.”
Complex business litigation is another niche where the firm has had client-friendly results. Just last year, the firm achieved a multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of entrepreneurial medical technology company Gamma Medica Inc. In typical KWIKA David-versus-Goliath style, the firm’s lean team overwhelmed more than a dozen lawyers representing the defendants.
And what do clients say about KWIKA’s representation? Just ask actor/director Michael Keaton, who was sued in connection with his directorial debut of the independent film, The Merry Gentleman. Chances are he’ll be smiling as he tells you how founding partner Michael Kump filed a successful summary judgment motion, defeating the challenge by one of the film’s investors who claimed Keaton’s performance as director had caused the investor losses.
After nine years in business, KWIKA’s lawyers, most of whom spent the bulk of their careers in the sterile skyscrapers of Century City, have settled in to the small-town charm of Santa Monica. How many other firms can you name with a pool table in the library and a vintage surfboard on the wall?
And why, when you get right down to it, did these five top L.A. attorneys suddenly decide it was time to make a change? Founding partner Dale Kinsella sums it up nicely: “We had all spent decades in Century City. If you spend decades in Century City, that answers the question right there.”