Willkie Farr & Gallagher is opening an office in Los Angeles with a trio of partners from Venable who focus on clients in the entertainment industry.
Alan Epstein, Michele Mulrooney, and Alex Weingarten are joining Willkie as partners in its newest outpost on the West Coast. The move marks the fourth office opening for the New York firm in four years.
Willkie opened an office in Chicago in March, picking up former Jenner & Block chair and several other partners. The firm also opened offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto in 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Building out Willkie’s West Coast presence has been a strategic focus for the firm, said Willkie chairman Thomas Cerabino in a statement.
“Los Angeles is a diverse and vibrant business center and several of our existing clients are based in or near L.A., or have significant operations there,” he said.
“Alan, Michele and Alex know the market, have key relationships, and are a great fit for our collaborative and entrepreneurial culture. They bring tremendous synergies that will further strengthen our transactional, private client and litigation platforms,” he added.
Epstein and Mulrooney joined Venable in 2011 from the Los Angeles entertainment boutique of Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein, P.C. Epstein served as chair of Venable’s media and entertainment practice and the West Coast business transactions group, while Mulrooney served as chair of Venable’s West Coast estate planning group.
Epstein works with a wide array of clients in the entertainment and media space, including independent production companies and studios, content library owners and financiers, producers and influencers, technology companies and others. He advises on corporate matters including M&A, joint ventures, financing transactions and executive compensation, and complex tax planning.
Epstein recently represented actor Ryan Reynolds in sweat equity joint ventures, investments and promotional agreements with Mint Mobile and Aviation Gin. He also represented Reynolds and his company, Maximum Effort Marketing, in the sale of Aviation to Diageo in August 2020 for $610 million.
Mulrooney focuses her practice on estate planning for high-net-worth individuals—including actors, artists, directors, executives, producers, and writers—and their companies and non-profits organizations.
Weingarten joined Venable in 2014 and represents clients in all facets of business, entertainment, and probate and restructuring litigation. He has worked with the likes of model Brook Shields in her claims against various retailers, singer Selena Gomez on intellectual property matters, and the adult children of the late Tom Petty over the singer’s musical catalog.
The trio worked with Divya Bala of global legal recruitment firm Lippman Jungers Bala in their move to Willkie.
“We’ve admired Willkie’s expansion of its national platform in recent years, particularly on the West Coast, and are honored to launch its Los Angeles office,” Epstein said in a statement.