Neville L. Johnson

Senior Partner

Our lawyers are devoted to resolving litigation efficiently and achieving excellence in every aspect of our practice.

WHEN THE DEAL GOES WRONG, WE KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Neville L. Johnson is Senior Partner at Johnson & Johnson

Professional Experience

Neville L. Johnson graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley (1971).  He received his law degree from Southwestern Law School (1975), graduating near the top of his class.  He has tried over 28 civil jury trials and over 70 civil trials and arbitrations without a jury. He is a member of the invitation-only American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), and is on the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles (CAALA since 2005), the Board of Directors of the national organization Public Justice, and on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association 2013-2015 and 2020-2022 (BHBA). Johnson is a long-time member of the invitation-only Los Angeles Copyright Society, and on the Board of The California Society of Entertainment Lawyers.

He was nominated for Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2005 by CAALA.  He was Co-Chair of the Entertainment Law Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association from 2009 to 2011. He has been on the Planning Committee of the USC Entertainment Law Institute since 2011. He has appeared in courts in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

In 2020, Mr. Johnson and his team secured a verdict in a Right of Publictity case of over 9 Million Dollars in damages, and over 7 Million Dollars in attorneys fees.

Mr. Johnson has litigated and settled countless cases against a wide array of defendants concerning royalty accounting, profit participation, publicity rights, idea theft, copyright infringement, and many other entertainment law matters. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School since 2012, where he teaches Entertainment and Media Litigation. However, his greatest pride has been in defending the privacy rights of all citizens against the worst malefactors in the media. His work in this field was perhaps best summarized by Professor David A. Elder, a leading expert on the law of privacy, who published the following special dedication in his treatise, Privacy Torts:

 To Neville L. Johnson… who has led the charge, often successfully (and always creatively and with great passion) in exposing some of the worst outrages of media newsgathering. Neville ranks with Brandeis and Warren as the great defenders of privacy. All America is in his debt.

Mr. Johnson has practiced entertainment law and IP law since 1975 [except for 10 months in 1977-78 when he was a Public Defender (juvenile) in Los Angeles County and handled over 100 matters, including two murder trials and one attempted murder trial].

Mr. Johnson has represented many well-known celebrities and entertainment concerns. The firm currently represents Sylvester Stallone in net profit litigation, and many other writers, directors, actors, producers, musicians, models, and JoJo Siwa, the biggest teen star in the world. He and his firm have been lead counsel in many class actions, including pioneering class actions in the entertainment industry against the entertainment unions, major record companies and motion picture companies. The firm has also handled a number of consumer class actions. The firm handles 15 to 20 right of publicity cases a year.

Mr. Johnson is a frequent lecturer and written extensively on entertainment, copyright and media and other legal topics, including in London, England  (Entertainment attorneys based in the UK, London Branch of Entertainment Section of BHBA), Cannes, France (MIDEM, the international music convention), New York (ABA Forum on Communications Section, and Entertainment Law Section and New York Bar Assn.: Entertainment Law Section), Nashville (ABA Entertainment Law Section), Las Vegas (ABA Entertainment Law Section), Miami, Arizona State University, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, Loyola Law School, Southwestern Law School, USC Entertainment Law Institute annual forum (3 times) as well as the undergraduate school, California Western School of Law, California State University, Northridge, and many times to the Entertainment Section of the BHBA as a panelist or moderator), the Intellectual Property Section of Los Angeles County Bar Assn., and Berklee College of Music (Boston).

Johnson & Johnson LLP, based in Beverly Hills, California, is a litigation firm that specializes in complex litigation with a particular emphasis on entertainment, intellectual property, right of publicity, privacy, defamation, consumer issues, and class actions. Mr. Johnson and the firm also negotiate business and entertainment agreements.

Representative Matters

Obtained a 9.6 Million Dollar jury verdict after a seven week jury trial for claim of violation of the right of publicity, Hansen v. The Coca Cola Company, the largest verdict for a right of publicity case in the history of the United States. The trial court also awarded ________ in attorneys’ fees.

  • Obtained a unanimous landmark privacy ruling from the California Supreme Court in Sanders v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 907, a decision that is included in multiple casebooks and taught in law schools across the country.
  • Obtained a published California Court of Appeal opinion representing fitness celebrity Richard Simmons in right of privacy claims against a magazine and private eye for placing a GPS tracker on a car. Simmons v. Bauer Media (2020)
  • Represented numerous victims (both individually and in a class action) of notorious wiretapper Anthony Pellicano and other liable parties, including obtaining a favorable partial affirmance of a significant sanctions award by the California Court of Appeal in Gerbosi v. Gaims, Weil, West & Epstein LLP (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 435, which concerned a law firm’s use of Pellicano’s services.
  • Pioneered the use of class actions against studios and record labels for improperly accounting to artists regarding royalties and profit participation, obtaining multiple eight-figure settlements therefrom. Represented many individuals in profit participation claims, including Sylvester Stallone, Jack Klugman, Richard Dreyfuss and Mike Connors.
  • Represented the heir of songwriter Gram Parsons in Parsons v. Tickner (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 1513, defeating a statute of limitations defense and establishing a fiduciary duty claim against a music publisher.
  • Represented numerous legendary musicians and/or their estates on a variety of contractual, accounting, and intellectual property matters, including John Lennon, Buddy Holly, Michelle Phillips, Rick Nelson, P.F. Sloan, members of Earth, Wind and Fire, Mitch Ryder, Lloyd Price and many others.
  • Obtained a $15 million award in a jury trial business fraud case.

Honors

He has been repeatedly selected by Super Lawyers as one of the top entertainment attorneys in Southern California (top 5% of attorneys as voted by peers). In 2020 Super Lawyer and his peers named him one of the top 100 attorneys in Southern California, the only entertainment attorney on the list. He was named one of the top 100 Power Lawyers in Entertainment Law by The Hollywood Reporter every year since, 2008, and in 2020 moved to a new permanent category and designated a “Legal Legend.” He has also been designated numerous times one of the top lawyers in entertainment by Variety and Los Angeles legal newspapaer The Daily Journal, He was nominated as Trial Lawyer of the Year by the California Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. He is a fellow at the American Law Institute (only 2% of all attorneys are members).  In 2020 he was honored as Alumnus of the Year by the Biederman Entertainment Law Institute at Southwestern Law School.   A law review article about his career is Richard and Calvert, “Suing the Media, Supporting the First Amendment: the Paradox of Neville Johnson and the Battle for Privacy,” 67 Albany Law Review 1097 (2004).  ). On June 23, 2015, the Los Angeles Times did a major profile (front page, Business Section) on his career, “Contract Sport, ‘Go-to’ L.A. Lawyer Says Hollywood Studios Are Shortchanging His Clients,” noting that Johnson & Johnson is one of the few firms successfully taking on the entertainment establishment on a regular basis. The cover story of the July 2016, issue of Attorney at Law magazine is about Neville Johnson.  The Los Angeles Business Journal profiled him on its first page, “Lawyer Up,” (September 9, 2019).

Speaking Engagements

He is a frequent speaker,  including in London, England  [Entertainment attorneys based in the UK, London Branch of Entertainment Section of Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA)], Cannes, France (MIDEM, the international music convention), the Intellectual Property Section of Los Angeles County Bar Assn., and Berklee College of Music (Boston); and the Los Angeles Copyright Society. New York (ABA Forum on Communications Section, and Entertainment Law Section and New York Bar Assn.: Entertainment Law Section), Nashville (ABA Entertainment Law Section), Las Vegas (ABA Entertainment Law Section), Miami, Arizona State University, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, Loyola Law School, Southwestern Law School, USC Entertainment Law Institute annual forum (3 times) as well as the undergraduate school, California Western School of Law, California State University, Northridge, and many times to the Entertainment Section of the BHBA as a panelist or moderator),  SInce 2011 he has moderated the panel on ethical issues for the annual Year in Review for the Entertainment Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.

Publications

 Johnson & Johnson, “Interesting New Developments About Which All Practitioners Should be Aware,” 31 New York State Bar Assn, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal 56 (2020); Johnson, Johnson, Smolla & Tweed, “Defamation and Invasion of Privacy in the Internet Age,” 25 Southwestern Journal of International Law 9 (2019) Johnson & Johnson, “Trouble in Tinseltown, Los Angeles Daily Journal (April 23, 2019); “My Big Mouth,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (March 29, 2019); Johnson & Johnson, “Entertainment Contracts with Minors in New York and California, 30 New York State Bar Assn, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal 75 (2019); Johnson & Johnson, “A New Way to Revive a Corporation?,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (October 18, 2016); Johnson & Johnson, “Hollywood Docket: One Sided World,” 27 New York State Bar Assn, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal 32 (2016); Johnson & Elder, “Maybe America Needs More Peter Thiels,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (August 8, 2016); “We’ve Lost Control,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (June 16, 2016); “Talent Agency Act Survives Suit, Clarity Remains Elusive,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (May 10, 2013); “The Man Who Seduced Hollywood,” 36 Los Angeles Lawyer 41 (September 2013); “Remedies for Web Defamation,” California Lawyer 36 (May 2013); “To Find Employment as a Lawyer, You Must Market Yourself,” 36 Los Angeles Lawyer 12 (June 2013); “Ten Rules for Success in the Practice of Law, 31 Los Angeles Lawyer 12 (June 2008); Chapter, Johnson & Aradi, “Defamatory Tweeting and Other Name and Likeness Violations” in Building Your Artist’s Brand as a Business, International Association of Entertainment Lawyers (2012) (includes a discussion of right of publicity); Chapter, Johnson & Fowler, “Litigation: How to Draft Defensively Without Killing the Deal” in Licensing of Music from BC to AD (Before the Change/After Digital), International Association of Entertainment Lawyers (2014); Elder, Johnson & Rishwain, “Establishing Constitutional Malice for Defamation and Privacy/False Light Claims When Hidden Cameras and Deception Are Used by the Newsgatherer,” 22 Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review 327 (2002); “New Developments in California Privacy and Defamation Law,” 23 California Litigation 21 (2010); Johnson & Johnson, “What Happened to Unjust Enrichment in California? The Deterioration of Equity in the California Courts,” 44 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 277 (2010); Johnson & Walsh, “The Danger of “Anti-Libel Tourism” Litigation in the United States, 32 Los Angeles Lawyer 44 (December 2009); Johnson, “Privacy and the First Amendment”, California Litigation (2006); co-author “Caught in the Act,” Los Angeles Lawyer (1998) (an analysis of trends in the right of privacy); Johnson & Lang, The Personal Manager in the California Entertainment Industry, 52 Southern California Law Review 375 (1979)(a definitive article on the regulation of talent agents, personal managers, and the interplay of entertainment unions and guilds in that nexus). He co-authored chapters on music publishing and personal managers in The Musician’s Business & Legal Guide (2017 5th edition), and wrote the authorized and best-selling biography of the greatest coach in the history of sports, The John Wooden Pyramid of Success (Second Edition 2004).

Since 2012, Neville and Douglas Johnson have taught a course on entertainment and media litigation as Adjunct Professors at Southwestern School of Law.  From 2011-2014, he was one of the panelists teaching the Los Angeles County Bar Association new admittees course on class actions; and since 2011 he has moderated the panel on ethical issues for the annual Year in Review for the Entertainment Section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association. 

 

Professional Associations

  • American Board of Trial Advocates (invitation only)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers
  • Beverly Hills Bar Association

  Co-Chair Entertainment Section, 2009-2011

Board of Governors, 2012-2015, 2020-2022

  • Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles

Board of Governors, 2005-Present

  • Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Los Angeles Copyright Society (invitation only)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Loyola Productions [Filmmaking arm of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)]

Co-Chair of the Board, 2009-Present

  • National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy organization)

Voting Member (as the recording artist professionally known as Trevor McShane)

  • Public Justice (National organization advocating for consumers and fundamental rights)

Board of Governors, 2011-Present

  • USC Entertainment Law Institute

Planning Board, 2011-Present

Education:

  • J.D., Southwestern University School of Law, 1975
  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, 1971

Practice Areas:

  • Media Law
  • Entertainment Law
  • Entertainment Class Actions
  • Privacy Law
  • Complex Business Litigation Matters, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud
  • Right of Publicity (wrongful use of name and likeness)
  • Copyright Infringement and Theft of Idea cases
  • Issues involving the entertainment unions

Admissions:

  • California
  • United States Supreme Court

Contact Neville L. Johnson

439 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, California 90210, United States