Blair Berk and Andrew Brettler, two of the entertainment industry’s most well-known and respected lawyers, have teamed up to combine their civil and criminal practices into a one-stop-shop boutique firm.
A go-to civil litigator and fixture on THR‘s Power Lawyers list, Brettler’s current clients include Chelsea Handler, Sydney Sweeney, Amy Robach and Kevin O’Leary. Meanwhile, as one of the industry’s top lawyers handling criminal matters for both defendants and victims, Berk’s clients have included Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum and Alexandra Daddario.
Despite having crossed paths on cases several times over the past decade on shared clients like Armie Hammer, they actually didn’t meet in person for the first time until about five years ago. In mid-December, the duo — along with associates Jake Camara, Regina Peter and Tom Jones — quietly launched their West Hollywood-based firm.
In a new year with the new business, the Berk Brettler co-founders talked with THR about why they made this surprising move and what they see in the future.
How long have you known each other?
Berk: We really got to know each other well about five years ago, having the opportunity to work closely together on a couple of back to back cases which were pretty sensitive. In the end, we were fortunately not only able prevent the client from being sued or charged — but, as importantly, prevented the matters from ever being unnecessarily publicized.
Of all the lawyers you’ve met over the years what was it that made this the right fit?
Brettler: I realized very early on that she and I think about cases and complicated legal matters in a similar way. We both take a practical approach to problem solving and counsel our clients accordingly. But mainly it was the alliteration: Berk Brettler sounds good together.
Berk: Observing Andrew in action on a number of particularly complicated cases, I have seen first hand his direct but empathetic manner with clients, his incredible intellect, his ability to instill calm under very trying circumstances, and most importantly his highly ethical judgment.
What’s the biggest advantage and challenge of combining civil and criminal work in a boutique firm?
Berk: Many of Andrew’s civil litigation clients will fortunately never have any need to walk down and visit my side of the firm, and vice versa, but there are a number of cases where a client can have both potential civil and criminal exposure. Our experience has been that a client can be really benefited by having attorneys expert in navigating both areas who appreciate how one can really impact the other.
Brettler: For me, the biggest challenge was leaving my colleagues at Lavely & Singer, where I spent the bulk of my career. Marty Singer is more than just a mentor to me.
What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in your work right now?
Berk: In my area of criminal law, we are seeing an explosion right now of NFT and cryptocurrency investigations. I’ve also noticed I have more and more clients who have been a victim of a crime and ask me to represent them in order to advocate for them and help them navigate what can be a complicated criminal justice process.
Brettler: On the civil side, I think we’re going to start seeing an increase in the number of trials. During the pandemic, case dockets piled up and people are ready for their day in court.
What are your goals for Berk Brettler?
Brettler: We want to continue providing the best legal services to our clients and be recognized as attorneys who not only practice at the top of their fields, but also treat their clients — as well as their adversaries — with respect, empathy, and compassion.