Lawyer Monthly Rich List – John Branca
Rich List Fact:
At Branca’s first wedding, Michael Jackson was Best Man and Rev. Little Richard Penniman served as minister.
Worth: $50 million
Firm: Ziffren Brittenham LLP
Bio: John Branca has carved a very wealthy niche for himself as one of the richest and most successful entertainment lawyers in the world.
Branca originally set his sights on a music career and guitarist starting a band at the age of 13, The Other Half. Although his music career never hit the heights he would have liked, he achieved some success playing in a band that occasionally opened for The Doors at LA’s Hullabaloo Club. His passion for music remained, majoring in the subject at Los Angeles City College. However once qualified as a musician he changed tack and gained his degree at the UCLA School of Law. Upon graduation, he began working as an estate planner at the firm of Kindel & Anderson.
However, his love of music and entertainment led him to move away from estate planning and he began forging an extremely successful career as an entertainment lawyer, specifically artist representation and publishing rights. He has represented over 30 inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame including Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, the Doors, Dr. Dre and many others. He has also successfully represented many other celebrity clients including Richard Pryor.
Like others in our Rich List, Branca is perhaps most famous for his work with Michael Jackson. The king of pop first employed Branca following the fallout from his father’s sacking as his manager. Branca was instrumental in securing the release of the Thriller music video and from then on continued to drive Michael Jackson’s successful publishing rights, even beyond the stars death with Branca producing his will and acting as co-executor earning hundreds of millions for the Michael Jackson Estate through various publishing deals.
Throughout his 40 year career as an entertainment lawyer, a number of Branca’s deals have set the template for the entire music industry. Branca has been credited with helping a multitude of artists reclaim copyrights and secure royalties.
Branca’s work has not just been limited to individuals. He also represented Sony Corporation of America in the $2.2 Billion acquisition of EMI Music Publishing and EMI and Sony ATV in the sale of the Virgin Music catalogue.
Branca is also among the most decorated Lawyers in the US. His individual accolades include being named in every issue of Best Lawyers in America. He is also chairman emeritus of MusiCares, where he was honored by The GRAMMY Foundation with its 2012 Service Award for his work with the organization. He has also been named alumnus of the year by both Los Angeles City College, Occidental College and the UCLA Law School and is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Barack Obama Scholars Program at Occidental College.