May 16th, 2013
Rising Star: Early Sullivan’s Bryan Sullivan
By Bill Donahue
Law360, New York (April 11, 2013, 7:16 PM ET) — Working with slew of celebrities and professional athletes — after successfully founding a multimillion-dollar law firm and a legal aid nonprofit — was more than enough to earn Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP’s Bryan Sullivan a spot among Law360’s group of the four top young media and entertainment attorneys.
Indeed, as with most of the under-40 attorneys named to Law360’s Rising Star list, Sullivan has an impressive client list. In the past few years, he’s handled cases for clients including pop singer Miley Cyrus, actress Whoopi Goldberg, Lionsgate Films Inc. and Major League Baseball star Robinson Cano.
Serving as what he describes as a “problem solver,” Sullivan handles a broad swath of cases for his clients, from entertainment contracts to intellectual property to a criminal case against a man convicted of trespassing at Cyrus’ home.
But in the case of the 37-year-old Sullivan, some of his biggest accomplishments in his career have been the organizations he’s helped start, not the cases he’s closed.
In mid-2010, Sullivan, Eric Early and three other partners left Los Angeles-based entertainment firm Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard & Shapiro LLP and founded Early Sullivan. Three years later, the firm is thriving and has doubled in size to 20 attorneys.
According to Early, a lot of that is attributable to Sullivan, who he said has “a great business mind.” “There are so many things that come into play in running a law firm that most lawyers working for bigger firms really never have to address directly and on a regular basis,” Early said. “We have to have a Bryan Sullivan in this firm to make it hum like it’s been humming.”
Breaking away from Glaser Weil — an entirely amicable split, by the way — was a risk for Sullivan. It’s much easier for a general counsel or a celebrity manager to send their work to the big firm, to the older attorney with more experience. If someone like that loses a case, it’s easier to explain.
But looking back — one successful boutique firm later — Sullivan said the move was the right one. “I really feel that if I stayed at a big firm, the opportunity wouldn’t be there for me,” he said. “I’d always be under the rubric of some big name 60-something attorney with a 35-year career of success, and nobody would actually see me.
“I felt that now was the time to take that risk and start building my own reputation.”
Sullivan also helped his colleague Daniel J. Bramzon — another Glaser Weil alum — found and run BASTA, a nonprofit group aimed at helping tenets assert their rights in landlord disputes through aggressive litigation.
One of the group’s major accomplishments has been to start demanding jury trials during eviction proceedings, something low-income, unrepresented tenets might not know to do. The prospect of a full jury trials meant landlords and, more importantly eviction attorneys, had to more thoroughly consider whether they were being fair in the process.
“We changed the way evictions are done in Los Angeles,” Sullivan said about BASTA.
Trying to explain his partner’s early success in representing high-profile clients and in helping start their firm, Early said Sullivan has a “thoughtful, creative, imaginative and exacting legal mind.”
“When you have somebody like that — who not only gets along well with clients but can come up with very innovative and spot on solutions that other people may not be able to think of — you’ve got a special person,” he said.