Michael Kernan has more than 20 years’ experience in entertainment law and is well versed in all aspects of entertainment law.
Mr. Kernan is the managing partner of Kernan Law, which he founded in 2008. Prior to opening the Kernan Law Firm, he worked at top law firms and companies in the entertainment industry. Mr. Kernan began his career and first gained notoriety in the entertainment law field as a litigator at Lavely & Singer in Los Angeles, one of the most well-known entertainment firms in the country. During this time, Kernan and his mentor, Marty Singer, successfully represented actor Jean Claude Van Damme in a jury trial televised on Court TV. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for Van Damme. Also during this time, Kernan and Mr. Singer successfully represented Arnold Schwarzenegger in a lawsuit against The Globe tabloid. Also while at Lavely & Singer, Kernan won a large arbitration award on behalf of actor Dana Carvey.
In 2000, Mr. Kernan moved into the practice of entertainment and new media transactional law, where he served as Vice-President, Business Affairs, at the international talent agency ICM. While at ICM, Kernan represented actors, writers, directors and producers in entertainment and new media deals. Kernan was named Co-Head of the ICM New Media Department, overseeing digital media for ICM's New York, London and Los Angeles offices. Kernan was very successful at uniting ICM’s offices, and as an example he packaged a deal for a client from the London office, Hoodlum Entertainment with ABC, wherein Kernan negotiated the terms for Hoodlum to create the Emmy Nominated web experience for the “Lost” television show. Kernan has emerged as one of the few leading experts in making deals in the Entertainment/New Media area.
In 2008, Mr. Kernan opened the Kernan Law Firm, a boutique entertainment and digital media law firm located on The Jim Henson Film Lot in West Hollywood, California. Kernan is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at The University of California, Hastings College of Law, where he has taught Entertainment Law (including new media) and Social Media Law since 2007.
Mr. Kernan graduated from the University of Illinois of Urbana-Champaign, with an economics and finance double major. He attended law school at Saint Louis University School of Law and the University of California, Hastings College of Law, where he served as the Executive Associate Editor of the Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal. Mr. Kernan also graduated from Harvard Business School’s Executive M.B.A. (O.P.M.) program. At Harvard, his digital media strategies won runner up in the First Year Business Strategy Competition.
Mr. Kernan was named to the “Digital Power 50” by The Hollywood Reporter, as one of the 50 most powerful people in digital entertainment.
Mr. Kernan speaks regularly on the subjects of entertainment law and new media deal-making at prestigious new media conferences and schools, including Harvard Law School’s Symposium on Entertainment Law, NATPE (the largest television conference), The Sundance Film Festival and the Digital Hollywood Conferences.
- Author: Current Legal Issues Facing Producers, Including Liability for the Content of their Productions (Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal)
- Author: Playing To The Strengths Of A Very Small Screen: A Guide To Producing Content for Mobile Phones (Adweek)
- Author: Negotiating Deals With An Eye Towards California’s Accord & Satisfaction Rule (California Lawyer)
- Author: Privacy in Social Media (Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal)
- Professor: Entertainment Law, University of California, Hastings College of Law
- Member: State Bar of California, Entertainment Division (1996 through present)
- Member: Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 2000 to present
- Judge for the Primetime Emmys (2000 to present), Daytime Emmys (2000 – Present)
- Member: Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations
Reviews & Ratings
I FEEL SO BLESSED TO HAVE FOUND THIS MAN!!! ALWAYS REPLYS BACK TO ME QUICKLY. VERY THANKFUL TO HIM AND HIS TEAM.
"I think the best way to rate is to detail my experience. I hope this review helps. I'm an independent producer who, due to differences of opinions, had been inexcusably ousted from a project. I went above and beyond (the EP's words, not...
"I think the best way to rate is to detail my experience. I hope this review helps. I'm an independent producer who, due to differences of opinions, had been inexcusably ousted from a project. I went above and beyond (the EP's words, not mine) in all areas; was on set where and when I could be, offered industry insight, assisted them with another production (for which I was made promises and they never followed through), introduced them to connections (for which they wouldn't have had otherwise), distribution (to which they snubbed their noses at), obtained pertinent info on an historic criminal case, info they never could have obtained on their own. That old adage "no good deed goes unpunished" well, does that ever ring true in my case. Bottom lining it, I was in for a percentage of the proceeds. The EP's decided they were not going to honor our initial verbal agreement. I knew that if I wanted to see a dime, I needed an attorney. I had spoken with various entertainment lawyers in L.A. and Michael came to me highly recommended by a manager who knows the business of "show" inside and out. He knows who's good, who's bad. Michael and his team were, in a word, exceptional. Knowledgeable, skilled, always responsive (it's rare for an attorney to always be responsive!), always took the time to make sure I understood the intricate details, and why the case had to take the turn it did. My case was simplistic yet complicated; both defendants were, well, beyond words. I'll stop there. So during discovery it came out that proceeds were so much lower than I had anticipated. Because the project turned out as it did technically (my opinions didn't matter despite being hired because of my expertise), and due to the inexperienced jacks of all trades/masters of nothing, there was hardly any return to speak of. Or so the EP's have said. Ask me if I really buy that, I'll tell you no. Problem is proving it. But in the off-chance what they have claimed they made is true, then they were an utter failure. I digressed; Michael and Paul were patient. They cared about the outcome. They guided me through the first trial; there was mediation at first and the proposed settlement was beyond a slap in the face. I'd have rather lost every penny at the judges hands than to settle with those two ignoramus'. Michael left me a voicemail while I was in court, he cared about what was happening. When I called him back, I told him what transpired. Additionally there was some paperwork that needed immediate attention. Although that trial was over, and we were then awaiting a verdict, Michael cared enough to take care of what needed taking care of. And we won! So I guess one time in court wasn't humiliating enough to these two inept wanna-bees; yep, you guessed it! They filed an appeal. I then had the Kernan firm by my side in court; they were allowed to accompany me this time. And, we won again! The satisfaction of having stellar representation, who is not only knowledgeable but professional, and can kill in court, that's sublime. For all I went through with an inexperienced, inadequate, irrational and highly unprofessional first-time "producers"- and I've worked with many over my 22 years in the industry- these two were the worst... and just to know that I had a competent, trustworthy, reliable and responsive team in the Kernan Law Firm- there are not enough great adjectives in our vocabulary to describe Michael, Paul and the whole team. If this thing went up to thousands of stars, the Kernan Law Firm would have that rating from me. I would use Mike and his team again in a heart beat.... and only Mike and his team. They're the best, (literally) bar none."
Mr. Kernan has handled everything from transactional production and development contract negotiations, to civil/entertainment litigation and arbitration matters, for me for over a decade. His consistently unrelenting and winning approach, ...
Mr. Kernan has handled everything from transactional production and development contract negotiations, to civil/entertainment litigation and arbitration matters, for me for over a decade. His consistently unrelenting and winning approach, no matter what the arena of law, has always allowed me to sleep easy at night. An honest, true fighter for his clients, I can whole-heartedly recommend Mr, Kernan as the ideal advocate and counsel for your interests in any forum.
represented my company, Omniquest Media, LLC on two cases and delivered well above and beyond expectations
Mr. Kernan's PROFESSIONALISM, INTEGRITY and EXCELLENCE surpassed every SINGLE expectation that I held in mind. It is NO understatement when I say he SHATTERED my image of what an ATTORNEY is about!!! Stephen’s attention to the FINE DETAIL...
Mr. Kernan's PROFESSIONALISM, INTEGRITY and EXCELLENCE surpassed every SINGLE expectation that I held in mind. It is NO understatement when I say he SHATTERED my image of what an ATTORNEY is about!!! Stephen’s attention to the FINE DETAILS of my case were absolutely invaluable. I have no doubt that it's one of the MAJOR reasons we were victorious. When you find yourself in serious need of an attorney, INTEGRITY and EFFECTIVENESS are paramount. Mr. Kernan excels PHENOMENALLY in both domains. I was very fortunate to have him on MY side. He comes with the HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION that I can possibly muster...:)