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BEVERLY HILLS — In what was called “the toast, the roast and making the most of L. Lee Phillips,” the well-known music industry lawyer was honored Wednesday evening as the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s 2014 Entertainment Lawyer of the Year.
“For more than 40 years, Lee has fashioned deals for artists whose music is woven into the fabric of our lives,” said last year’s recipient, attorney Nina Shaw, in presenting the award. “Perhaps it began with his love of music. And when you marry that love to intelligence and fastidious dedication to his clients, you get a lawyer for whom it is always clients first.”
A number of clients were on hand, including Barbra Streisand, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach, Steve Perry, Don Henley, Irving Azoff, The Eagles, Josh Groban and Kenny Loggins, who performed and spoke about his longtime legal representative.
Between songs Loggins talked about starting his relationship with Phillips early in his long career. “No one else in my career,” he said, “is still standing beside me.”
Loggins said that is because Phillips above all is loyal to those he represents.
“The other testament is when people don’t want to negotiate with me because Lee is my attorney,” said Loggins. “So they’re trying to intimidate me into not using Lee. So he must be really good.”
In a lengthy, funny video presentation that featured many of his clients, his wife Marla and others, Streisand echoed Loggins’ sentiments: “You’ve done an amazing job. A lot of people hate you, so you must be doing something right.”
Randy Jackson, one of the evening’s co-hosts, arrived late after a taping of American Idol, where he serves as a mentor, but quickly got into the enthusiastic feeling of the evening.
“I just wanted to talk from an artist’s perspective about Lee Phillips,” said Jackson, “because a lot of us, and I see a lot of amazing artists he has worked with over the years (in the room), and a lot of great people — when you’re an artist, you have a choice. Right? You come, you look to the entertainment community, and I’m sure those sitting here are like me; you want someone that first and foremost — and I am going to say this even though it’s a strange word in this town — you can trust.”
“I didn’t want someone that wanted to run a movie studio,” added Jackson, “or run a television studio or run a label. I just wanted a great damn attorney. That’s what I got in Lee Phillips.”
When he accepted his honor in a room in front of lawyers, talented clients and friends, including a large contingent who had driven down from his adopted second home in Santa Barbara, Phillips was clearly touched.
“I have been honored before, but this is the first time I have been honored by my peers, lawyers,” he said. “And that’s very special and very different than being honored for charities and things. It’s very important.”
Phillips said he hated to use the old New York joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice,” but he did anyway to make a point.
“I was thinking about how I got honored tonight,” said Phillips. “Practice, practice, practice at being the best you can be, as an adviser, as a lawyer, sometimes as a shrink to your clients, but do the best you can as a lawyer. Not as a musician. I don’t critique my client’s music. I learned not to do that in 1967.”
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