October 10, 2011 12:04pm PT by Eriq Gardner
'L.A. Law' Actor Corbin Bernsen Sues Legal Marketing Firm For Divorcing Him
Corbin Bernsen isn't a lawyer; he merely played one on TV.
But on the 1980s drama, L.A. Law, Bernsen played the role of divorce lawyer, Arnie Becker, so well, that for a generation of up-and-coming legal talent, Bernsen's Emmy-nominated work became a role model of sorts for the glamorous lifestyle of lawyers in la-la land. Which may explain why he was recruited in 2009 -- fifteen years after L.A. Law finished its run of new episodes -- to be the paid spokesperson for Innovative Legal Marketing, a Virginia-based company that provides marketing services for lawyers and law firms.
This relationship isn't ending nicely. In June, the company informed Bernsen it wanted out from its relationship. Now, Bernsen is suing the company for more than $668,000 for allegedly breaching its sponsorship deal.
According to the complaint filed on Friday in Virginia federal court, Bernsen was engaged as the company's spokesperson in 2009 and signed a five-year agreement to record promotional announcements, make promotional appearances, and be available for still photography sessions. Bernsen was needed to help sell law firms on marketing assistance.
Innovative purportedly agreed to pay him $1 million, with a $50,000 fee at the beginning of each year and eleven equal monthly payments of $13,636.36 each year of the agreement.
For almost two years, all was good, but in June, the managing director of Innovative is said to have informed Bernsen that the agreement was being terminated because the campaign was not successful -- except in New York where the name of Arnie Becker still holds some luster and the commercials would still run.
After June, no payments were allegedly made to Bernsen.
Now the company that's marketing advertising assistance is being sued for breaching an advertising agreement with an actor who used to play a divorce lawyer. (Got that?)
Bernsen claims that Innovative paid for the use of his name and likeness and is now unjustly enriching itself.
Innovative was unavailable for comment.
Bernsen is being represented by J. Douglas Baldridge at Venable.
Meanwhile, in other Corbin Bernsen news, the actor once founded a company called Public Media Works, which started out as a production company targeting niche audiences before morphing into a DVD-rental-kiosk company (like Redbox). That company just declared bankruptcy. Bernsen hasn't been affiliated with the company in a while, however, and is a little bit irked that his name has come up upon news of the Chapter 11. Bernsen is busy on a tour promoting 25 Hill, a soapbox derby themed film.