Gerald F. Phillips, attorney, ethicist and philanthropist, passed away on October 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA surrounded by his devoted family. He was 90 years of age. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 1:00pm at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles, CA
A native of New York, NY and a resident of Los Angeles, CA for many years, Gerry is survived by his beloved wife and life partner of 58 years, Francine A. Phillips, daughter Stacy D. Phillips, son Louis M. Phillips, daughter-in-law Jackie Phillips and grandchildren Andrew and Alison Bloomgarden, and Bobby and Jeffrey Phillips.
Gerry began his career in 1950 at the prestigious New York law firm Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin, Krim & Ballon, founded by his father, Louis Phillips; famed trial lawyer Louis Nizer was the firm’s first partner joining Louie Phillips. Gerry’s career spanned more than 50 years in the entertainment industry where he worked with Nizer in the trial of some of the most important cases in the motion picture industry, which involved First Amendment issues, censorship and antitrust. Concurrently during the period 1950-1983, he was a Vice President of United Artists leading its Litigation Department and its Special Markets Division. He negotiated the first licensing agreement for feature motion pictures with HBO. He wrote and spoke extensively on these topics. Gerry remained part of Phillips Nizer through the late 1980s. From 1984-1987, Gerry served as Chairman of WNYC, New York’s flagship public radio station.
At the time of his death, Gerry, known as “Law Dad,” served as “Of Counsel” at his daughter’s law firm Phillips Lerner ALC, a premiere family law firm in Los Angeles. As Phillips Lerner partner Marc Lerner said, “He was a mensch with a giant intellect and heart.”
On November 1, 1990, Gerry helped Stacy start her firm, working with his daughter on complex family law matters, providing advice and guidance to the firm’s clients, who adored him. When Stacy’s firm was on its way, Gerry recreated himself becoming an arbitrator and mediator, primarily in entertainment matters – long before it was in vogue to do so. With his wealth of experience as both a lawyer and business executive, Gerry was able to craft resolutions that were win/wins for all involved.
In typical Gerry fashion, he mentored many younger lawyers who chose to become mediators and arbitrators. In addition, Gerry became a prolific writer, particularly on issues geared towards enhancing the reputations of lawyers, and always with ethics at the forefront. In 2014, Gerry’s knowledge and great interest in ethics culminated in the publishing of his book, Fair Deal for All Clients: How to Rekindle Pride in the Legal Profession (Carolina Academic Press), where he discusses how to improve the image of lawyers by educating the public about how lawyers bill clients, and by persuading lawyers that their billing practices are harming the profession.
Gerry served until his death as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Law. He was well-known for his role as co-founder of the College of Arbitrators and was a past president of Dispute Resolution Services. His work with the Beverly Hills Bar Association was extremely important to him, as was his work with the Los Angeles County Bar Association where he served as a member of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee.
Gerry always viewed his family as his greatest achievement and legacy. Ever mindful of his obligation to “give back” and his abiding love of his alma mater Dartmouth College (where Stacy and Andrew carried on his tradition), Gerry, together with his family, created the Phillips/Samuels/Victor Family Fund at the Dartmouth Ethics Institute at Dartmouth College, NH. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations in his memory be made to that fund, Gerry’s baby.