Gerald F. Phillips

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Gerald F. Phillips


Peter W. Martin

Resource Type

Video Interview

Date of Recording





From the video archives of the Cornell Law School Heritage Project. The interviewer is Peter W. Martin; the videographer, Jaesuk Yoo. This video covers Gerald Phillips's experiences as a law student, the path that led him into the motion picture industry, and his subsequent work and teaching in the field of dispute resolution (mediation and arbitration).

Gerald Phillips was born in New York, N.Y. in 1925. He earned an AB at Darmouth College and an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Darmouth, and then a JD from Cornell Law School in 1950. He began his career at the prestigious New York law firm founded by his father, Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin, Krim & Ballon. It was there that he worked with the famed trial lawyer Louis Nizer over the course of more than 50 years on some of the most important cases in the motion picture industry, cases that involved First Amendment issues, censorship, and antitrust. He was admitted to practice law in New York, California, and also before the United States Supreme Court.

Gerald Phillips was Vice President of United Artists leading its Litigation Department and its Special Markets Division from 1950-83. He negotiated the first licensing agreement for feature motion pictures with HBO. From 1984-87 he was Chairman of WNYC, New York's public radio station.

In 1990 he helped his daughter start her own law firm, Phillips Lerner ALC, which specialized in complex family law. At this time he recreated himself and became an arbitrator and mediator, primarily in entertainment matters. He had a reputation for crafting resolutions that were win/win.

Gerald Phillips was a prolific writer and was interested in enhancing the reputation of lawyers, always with ethics at the forefront. His book, Fair Deal for All Clients, examines how to improve the image of lawyers by educating the public about lawyers' billing practices and exhorts lawyers to change billing practices which harm the profession.

Phillips was adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Law. He co-founded the College of Arbitrators and was past president of Dispute Resolution Services. His work with the Beverly Hills Bar Association and with the Los Angeles County Bar Association was very important to him, especially the latter where he served as a member of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee.

Attorney, ethicist, and philanthropist, Gerald Phillips died in 2015. Together with his family he created the Phillips/Samuels/Victor Family Fund at the Dartmouth Ethics Institute at Dartmouth College.


Cornell Law School, Cornell Law School alumni, Phillips Nizer Benjamin Krim & Ballon


The initial phase of this project was sponsored by a generous grant from the law firm of Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP.