McDermott Will & Emery is continuing its expansion, this time on the West Coast, bringing aboard one of the leaders of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s national media and entertainment practice.
Los Angeles entertainment attorney Jeffery McFarland is the third lawyer from Quinn Emanuel, a prominent litigation firm, to decamp for McDermott in recent weeks. Jane Byrne, the co-chair Quinn Emanuel’s insurance and reinsurance group, and Guyon Knight joined McDermott’s office in New York last month.
McFarland focuses on general business litigation with a niche for disputes in the entertainment industry, a space where Quinn Emanuel is well-known. The firm has represented the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Elon Musk, while founding partner John Quinn is the longtime general counsel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that holds the Academy Awards.
McFarland’s addition to McDermott’s commercial litigation practice builds on the firm’s growing footprint on the West Coast and expands its entertainment capabilities. His clients include talent agencies and managers, actors, producers, directors, video game publishers, media networks and studios.
“This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and I look forward to being a part of the firm’s growth in L.A. and overall,” McFarland said in an email to Bloomberg Law.
Quinn Emanuel did not immediately respond to a request for comment about McFarland’s departure.
“McDermott is always looking ahead and making targeted moves to expand our regional and national capabilities and adding a highly talented trial lawyer to its practice will accelerate growth in the entertainment space,” David Rosenbloom, global head of McDermott’s litigation practice, said in a statement announcing the move.
McFarland represented Modern Family stars Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara in their lawsuit against 20th Century Fox TV related to contract negotiations in 2012. He also represented Esplande Productions, Inc. in a suit against Disney claiming the studio copied from the work of Gary L. Goldman for its animated film Zootopia.
A Quinn Emanuel team including McFarland represented Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) against Southern California Edison for damages related to the 2018 Woolsey wildfire which destroyed 100,000 acres and killed three people around Los Angeles.
McFarland began his career at the now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison nearly three decades ago. In 1995, he jumped to Milbank before joining Quinn Emanuel in 2002.
McDermott has been busy on the lateral front this year, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
In April the firm added Chris Gladbach from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe as a partner in its corporate and transactions group in Washington. It also brought on a four-lawyer energy group from King & Spalding.
McDermott added a five-lawyer group from Katten Muchin Rosenman to its restructuring and insolvency practice in Dallas in early July. Last week the firm picked up a seven-lawyer trade team from Hughes Hubbard & Reed.
As for Quinn Emanuel, which is currently seeking $185 million in fees in a class-action for insurers over scrapped Obamacare payments, the firm has had some departures, but also notable additions in recent months.
Tara Lee, co-chair of the national trial practice at Quinn Emanuel, joined White & Case in June, while Williams & Connolly patent litigation co-chair Kevin Hardy joined Quinn Emanuel in Washington in late May. The firm also announced today the addition of Justin Michaelson from Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson to its London office.