How a New L.A. Law Firm Is Linking Hollywood and Social Action

How a New L.A. Law Firm Is Linking Hollywood and Social Action

In a Hollywood that has grown more and more transient — the place org charts have biannual overhauls and the place brokers turn out to be managers turn out to be producers turn out to be and so forth. — the leisure regulation corporations stand as {industry} anchors, litigating and negotiating the remainder of the tumult. This is why it’s significantly notable when a brand new agency joins the scrum.

Coming out of an industry-upturning pandemic, throughout which period there additionally have been political, racial and office reckonings, the founders of JSSK — Matt Johnson, P.J. Shapiro, Gregory Slewett and Tara Kole — got down to create a agency that match the up to date wants of expertise, most notably an more and more inextricable hyperlink between Hollywood and social activism. It was within the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd that Johnson — sitting at house because of the COVID-19 shutdown, renegotiating contracts because the {industry} tried to course-correct throughout a free fall — started to consider “how I wanted to continue to engage in my career for this next chapter.” All 4 future JSSK companions have been on the identical web page.

By the primary half of 2021, Johnson, Shapiro, and Slewett, who all labored collectively at iconic expertise boutique Ziffren Brittenham, started discussing the tough define of a brand new agency. By that summer time, Kole (beforehand of equally storied Gang Tyre) had joined the triumvirate.

“It’s 2022,” notes Kole now. “We have just gone through a pandemic, which gave everybody in the world a lot of time to step back and look at what we want to do.” The result’s the most recent entry within the perennially entrenched boutique leisure regulation area.

JSSK — which reps such shoppers throughout the higher echelon of Hollywood as Emma Stone, Adam McKay, Jamie Foxx, and Michael B. Jordan — formally launched Jan. 1 and opened the doorways of its new Pacific Design Center workplace on the finish of February. When it got here to filling that workplace, the founders sought to “create a firm that better reflected the demographics of our client base, our community and our personal vision for the future,” says Shapiro. Adds Johnson: “This business — and most of the law firms — still tends to be straight, white male-dominated, and there really is no justification for that.” Including the 4 names on the door, there are 14 legal professionals at JSSK — greater than half are girls and 6 are individuals of shade.

As for the shoppers, companions scaled again their rosters to emphasise particular person consideration, with each shopper having at the least two (and in some circumstances three) legal professionals. Historically amid corporations, there had been an overarching “sense of ‘this is mine, that’s yours,’ ” says Kole. “We see it as every client is a client of the firm.” Going ahead, the main target won’t be on quantity however affect. In a time the place multihyphenate is baseline and a robust model can result in an fairness funding — for each rising expertise and established shoppers, together with those that are strolling studio methods in and of themselves (see: Tyler Perry) — the purpose shall be fortifying the enterprise basis to help the burden of the whole lot from magnificence traces to huge general offers.

Says Johnson: “This business still tends to be straight, white male-dominated, and there’s no justification for that.” Of the 14 legal professionals at JSSK, greater than half are girls and 6 are individuals of shade.
Eric Williams/Courtesy of JSSK

While dealmaking is inherent in expertise regulation corporations, the place JSSK proves to be singular is in its concerted civic engagement efforts. Says Slewett, “The time was right for a new firm with a different energy that is consistent with a generation of filmmakers, actors, producers and writers who value more than just dealmaking in their representation.”

All 4 founders have lengthy been concerned in nonprofit and charitable work in addition to politics. Kole is an abiding board member of Women in Film, whereas Johnson served on the LAPD’s civilian oversight board and was tapped by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to steer the town’s early COVID-19 philanthropic and neighborhood efforts.

But whereas fairness companions have the bandwidth to serve on boards and contribute time to ardour tasks, youthful legal professionals are sometimes “caught up in the grind,” as Shapiro places it. Adds Johnson, “Rather than have that be something people did on the side that was maybe tolerated at other places, we really wanted to build it into the DNA of our firm.”

To assist that effort, JSSK tapped Hannah Linkenhoker as its chief engagement officer. She joins from ICM Partners, the place she steered the company on issue-based advocacy. Under Linkenhoker’s steering, the agency will internally promote advocacy work amongst its ranks and externally assist shoppers navigate social and political motion efforts. Charitable partnerships already embody Heart of Los Angeles and Boys & Girls Club, and the founders hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Karen Bass’ L.A. mayoral marketing campaign.

“A lot of times, I think lawyers are reflective of their clients and clients of their lawyers,” says Kole, whose roster contains gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Chelsea and Hillary Clinton.

“It’s not that I don’t want to make a bunch of money and represent the best and brightest in our business,” says Shapiro. With the agency dealing with in-demand stars like Donald Glover, Florence Pugh and Regé-Jean Page, that’s a given. “But we can do that and at the same time make an impact in our community.”

This story first appeared within the March 30 situation of The Hollywood Reporter journal. Click right here to subscribe.

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