(Reuters) - Veteran studio lawyer and executive Brad Miller is back at Davis Wright Tremaine after a 20-year hiatus, leaving his post as associate general counsel with Amazon Studios to join the firm's media and entertainment practice as a partner in Los Angeles.
The last time Miller was at Davis Wright, Amazon had barely expanded beyond online book sales, much less gotten into the film and television business. During his four years at Amazon Studios, he oversaw production legal affairs for more than 300 Amazon Original movies and TV shows, the firm said.
Earlier he was general counsel and a senior operations executive at High Noon Entertainment, launched his own boutique law firm, Doyle & Miller, where he practiced for more than seven years, and served as legal affairs director for Warner Bros. Television.
While at his boutique, Miller worked with clients including Comcast Entertainment Group and The Walt Disney Company and played an integral part in AMC’s launch of its blockbuster The Walking Dead, according to his new firm.
Reuters spoke with Miller about his return to Big Law and what he hopes to bring to Davis Wright Tremaine, which has long counted Amazon as a client. The conversion has been edited for clarity and length.
REUTERS: Why did you want to return to a law firm, and specifically DWT?
MILLER: What I like most about being a lawyer is counseling clients. Now that I have new sets of skills, I really look forward to being able to leverage that in-house experience, both in the streaming business and also independent producers. As far as DWT specifically, I have deep relationships there, having started my career in 1998 in entertainment. Their vast media experience, and the reputation that goes along with that in the entertainment industry - it's an easy sell to port in new clients. They've been growing in California substantially, so that's really meaningful.
REUTERS: Why not take the boutique route again?
MILLER: [It's] the client base that DWT has, but also the resources to be able to service a significant volume of work. Being at a small boutique like I was for seven years is great, but there are also limitations in terms of the teams that we’re able to put together. I think a more significant platform like DWT makes a lot more sense at this juncture of my career.
REUTERS: What specific experiences from your in-house and private practice roles will inform the new practice you’re building?
MILLER: It's always been my goal as I went from job to job to try to pick up new skill sets and then be able to combine them, so I've done legal and business affairs, I've also been a GC. I've done development, production and distribution, worked for production companies, studios and exhibition services like Amazon. I've done television and film, and within television, both scripted and non-scripted. I think specifically with respect to the tech space, I think that there's a unique way that the tech companies look at risk and risk mitigation, and that's something that I'll be able to provide additional value to both traditional media clients and the tech companies as well.
REUTERS: Your bio emphasizes transactions. Will your practice at DWT branch out beyond that?
MILLER: I think of my practice as being in four different buckets. So, there's the negotiation of transactions that you referenced, then there's a legal compliance piece when we get into production, which involves a number of disciplines. There's a content review portion of the job which I've been doing and that DWT is very well known for, and then I also do a lot of pre-litigation counseling and have been involved in litigation.
REUTERS: Are you in talks to bring over any specific clients that you can discuss?
MILLER: I can't talk about specific clients, but I think about the potentials in two ways. One, there are clients that I've represented in the past and hope to reconnect with. And then, DWT already has a number of tech companies that they represent maybe in other areas that are now moving into content production that are going to have these types of needs, and we already have a significant film and television practice at DWT. I hope to be able to augment that and further build it out. We've already had a couple of inquiries just in the last couple of days, so I'm pretty hopeful.