Mr. Brett A. Bjornson is a California Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Mr. Bjornson’s areas of expertise include estate planning, trust administration, probate, income and estate tax matters, as well as comprehensive litigation support. His highly unique ‘trifecta’ of qualifications includes a Jurist Doctorate, a CPA designation (inactive), and a Master of Science degree in Federal Income Taxation.
Estate Planning Services
Mr. Bjornson’s practice was originally founded to provide comprehensive and sophisticated estate planning services that emphasize personalized attention and hands-on client service. From drafting simple wills and trusts to formulating complex, customized estate plans, the Firm combines unparalleled technical expertise in all aspects of estate planning with exceptional compassion and sensitivity to delicate family dynamics. Mr. Bjornson works with his clients to continually protect and preserve their hard-earned assets over time, as economic and personal circumstances shift.
Forensic Accounting & Litigation Support Services
Mr. Bjornson also serves as an invaluable strategic consultant to litigators across a vast array of matters spanning hundreds of cases. His meticulous behind-the-scenes research and forensic expertise frees the trial team to focus on presenting the best case. Adhering to the highest standards of performance, discretion and integrity, Mr. Bjornson responds swiftly on his clients’ behalf to inquiries, examinations and requests for forensic accounting reviews. His multidisciplinary background allows him to disentangle the most challenging and complex financial transactions, even with flawed and/or incomplete data.
Mr. Bjornson is experienced in dealing with high net worth individuals and the implementation of GRATs, QPRTs, CRTs, CLATs, IDGTs and family entities.
Mr. Bjornson has held leadership positions in many professional, civic and community organizations. Mr. Bjornson is the former Chairman of the Planned Giving Council of the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University and a past member of the Board of Managers of the Palo Alto YMCA. He is a former member of the board of directors of the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce, the Peninsula Chapter of CSCPAs and the CPA/BAR Alliance of Palo Alto, of which he is a former Chairman of the Estate Planning Group.
Mr. Bjornson is admitted to the California State Bar and to practice in U.S. Tax Court. He is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Santa Monica Bar Association, the Beverly Hills Bar Association and the Beverly Hills Estate Planning Council.
He holds a a Bachelor of Science in business administration with an accounting option from California State University at Hayward (1981) and a Master of Science in Federal Income Taxation from California State University at Hayward (1987). Mr. Bjornson received his Juris Doctor from the Southwestern University School of Law in 2004. He is a resident of our Santa Monica office.
Santa Monica Office
Mr. Blau’s practice includes corporate, licensing and real estate transactions. Since 1981, he has represented businesses of all sizes and stages, from hi-tech startups to multinational Fortune 500 corporations. Mr. Blau has negotiated and drafted thousands of contracts in his approximately thirty years of practice and is among the most experienced contracts lawyers in California. Recent transactions include a successful multi-million dollar stock offering for a Chinese company and the negotiation and drafting of the construction contracts for a major new building in Silicon Valley.
Mr. Blau obtained his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (magna cum laude) in 1978 and his JD from Stanford Law School in 1981. Mr. Blau served as Articles Editor of the Stanford Journal of International Law. He has been admitted to practice in California since 1981 and is a resident of our Santa Monica office.
KIRK M. HALLAM
Kirk M. Hallam has been a highly successful litigation attorney for over thirty years, specializing in trademark, copyright, patent, securities fraud, data theft, rights of publicity, real property disputes, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. Kirk received his law degree from the Harvard Law School in 1981 and his Bachelor of Arts (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1978. After graduation from law school, Kirk clerked for United States District Court Judge Judith Keep,then became an associate and partner in the Beverly Hills law firm of Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman (1983-98), representing clients such as Universal Studios, Nike, Phil Knight, Lisa Frank, film producers Alan Ladd, Lee Rich and Sean Hepburn Ferrer, the Audrey Hepburn Estate, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, music producer Alan Douglas, actress Nicolette Sheridan, Jimi Hendrix Music Publishing Co, and Bella Godiva.
In 1998, Kirk left the full-time practice to pursue business opportunities with clients and friends in the entertainment field, while also continuing to handle select litigation matters. Since returning to the full-time practice in 2008, Kirk has prevailed by trial or motion in ten consecutive trademark, copyright, patent and computer fraud and data theft cases, matters involving issues such as copyrights in a Jimi Hendrix documentary, trademarks in the Rin Tin Tin television and film franchise, copyrights in the Superman Shield, patent rights in children’s toys, nontoxic pesticides and organic energy drinks, and film franchise, copyrights in the Superman Shield, patent rights in children’s toys, nontoxic pesticides and organic energy drinks.
Over the past 25 years, Kirk’s life outside the legal profession has involved wide-ranging activities such as serving on the Board of the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, producing films and miniseries (Finding Rin Tin Tin, Local Color, Cloudstreet), playing tennis/golf, and enjoying life with his wife, kids, dogs and cat.
- Cal Agri v. Steckler (2017): Won trial and appeal, $5 million judgment and patents to organic pesticides.
- DC Comics v. Mad Engine, Inc. (2016): Obtained dismissal of copyright claims re Superman Shield.
- Kleven v. Hereford (2015): Won court trial, trademark rights to Rin Tin Tin television and film franchise.
- Good v Harper (2013): Won trial, $671,000 judgment in data theft case, reimbursement of fees and costs.
- Douglas v. Experience Hendrix (2012): Won Seattle Federal Court trial, judgment awarding client all copyrights in Jimi Hendrix documentary film, and reimbursement of all attorney fees and costs.
- Brown v. Lisa Frank, Inc. (2011): Won patent rights in children’s toy oven, aff’d by Ariz. Supreme Court.
- Sean Hepburn Ferrer v. Carol Publishing Co., 69 F. Supp. 2d 495 (SDNY): Obtained substantial monetary settlement and injunction for family of Audrey Hepburn in trademark and false endorsement case.
- Dove Audio v. RMS, 47 Cal. App. 4th 777: Prevailed on Anti-Slap Motion, aff’d on appeal, obtaining reimbursement of all fees and costs in defamation action involving Family and Estate of Audrey Hepburn.
- Experience Hendrix v. Alan Douglas: Defeated motion for preliminary injunction for Jimi Hendrix music producer Alan Douglas in case involving ownership of all Jimi Hendrix music rights and rights of publicity.
- Lee Rich v. Kirk Kerkorian: Obtained substantial financial settlement for outgoing studio president.
- Alan Ladd v. MGM/UA: Obtained film rights and financial settlement for outgoing studio president.
- Carl Lewis v. Nike: Obtained dismissal of suit against Nike for alleged breach of endorsement contract.
- Levin v. Knight: Won trial (second chair) representing Nike founder in case re Clippers basketball team.
- Paul Newman v. Universal Studios, et al: Conceived and drafted successful motion to dismiss antitrust claims against all major studios recalculation of profit participation in home entertainment revenue.
Santa Monica Office
Chester Hayes has been with Gorman & Miller for over 10 years in an “Of Counsel” capacity.
Mr. Hayes has been practicing law for over 35 years and has held senior level legal positions for several Fortune 500 corporations. Most of his activities were focused on transactions involving government contracts (FAR & DFAR), export/import control regulation issues including ITAR as well as international and domestic commercial contractual matters. His other activities have included employment law, antitrust, intellectual property protection, technology licensing and risk management issues.
Mr. Hayes has taught Contract Law including the Uniform Commercial Code at a local law school for over five years. Mr. Hayes is also a mediator and arbitrator and has been doing so for over 15 years.
Mr. Hayes graduated from Suffolk University Law School, Boston MA in 1973 and is admitted to practice law in both Massachusetts and North Carolina. In addition, Mr. Hayes holds a business and engineering degree from Northeastern University, Boston, MA and Wentworth Institute, Boston, MA respectively and is currently licensed as a Professional Electrical Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
San Jose Office
With over 20 years of experience, Ken Heisz is an accomplished litigator and skilled trial lawyer. He has been lead counsel in complex cases in both state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels. He has tried many cases in state courts and in arbitrations with favorable results.
Mr. Heisz’s litigation experience is diverse, which includes litigation experience in the following areas: real estate, ecclesiastical/church law, First Amendment, trust and probate, trademark, copyright, unfair competition, trade secrets, breach of contract, labor, employment, defamation, professional malpractice, entertainment, internet, domain name disputes, administrative, licensing and corporate governance issues.
His clients have included public and private companies, school districts, financial institutions, start-up companies, internet companies, a network of hospitals, a municipality, prominent executives, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, celebrities and investors.
Mr. Heisz often serves as an arbitrator for the Dispute Resolution Services program of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Mr. Heisz graduated from Kansas Wesleyan University (B.A., 1979) and obtained his law degree from Loyola Law School (J.D., 1989), where he was an Articles Editor for the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal and a member of the Jessup Moot Court Team. Mr. Heisz has been a member of the California State Bar since 1989 and is admitted to practice in all federal courts in California, the Ninth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. He is a resident of the Santa Monica office.
Tia Carrere v. Steven Baxt, D2005-1072 (WIPO November 28, 2005);
Gardenhire v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County, 127 Cal.App.4th 882 (2005);
PriceGrabber.com v. Other World Computing, Inc., FA 0004000094651 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 5, 2000);
Powers v. Dickson, Carlson & Campillo, 54 Cal.App.4th 1102 (1997);
Ameri-Medical Corp. v. W.C.A.B., 42 Cal.App.4th 1260 (1996);
American Psychometric Consultants, Inc. v. W.C.A.B., 36 Cal.App.4th 1626 (1995).
Prosecuted a black market company and network of individuals operating in Asia and secured a permanent injunction against them on claims of trademark infringement, trade secrets, and unfair competition on behalf of an international skin care products company. This global injunction was subsequently enforced in a separate contempt proceeding in which a contempt order was obtained for violation of the injunction.
Defended a national irrigation company and its board against wrongful termination and breach of contract claims by its former president. Defense verdict rendered after a state court trial.
Prevailed on behalf of an individual client accused of financial elder abuse by relatives of decedent and Los Angeles County in which the client’s bank accounts were frozen and personal possessions were taken by Los Angeles County. Defense verdict rendered after trial in probate court with accounts ordered released and possessions ordered returned.
Represented a financial institution in lawsuit filed by another financial institution alleging trademark infringement. Case settled on favorable terms.
Filed complaint with international arbitration provider against a corporate competitor and successfully regained the domain name for an internet company.
Defended a marketing company in lawsuit filed by a national ice cream company alleging claims of copyright infringement, breach of contract and unfair business practices. Case settled on favorable terms.
Advised a national company regarding the distribution and licensing of its products and drafted contracts for same. Drafted an adult entertainment ordinance for large municipality and counseled city officials in enactment of same.
Santa Monica Office
Mr. Klein’s practice includes business and personal injury litigation. Since 1980, he has successfully resolved business disputes for clients ranging from sole proprietors to corporations with sales in excess of a billion dollars.
Mr. Klein is an experienced and skilled trial lawyer, yet understands that litigation is not about fighting, but rather about achieving results. An extremely effective and creative negotiator who views problems from all sides, his goal is to resolve every business dispute as expediently and cost-effectively as possible.
Recent litigated matters include representation of an infomercial marketer in a lawsuit against a credit card processor resulting in a judgment for the infomercial marketer, representation of a world famous singer in the defense of a lawsuit brought by a concert promoter resulting in dismissal of the lawsuit, the defense of a bank CEO in a wrongful termination claim resulting in a dismissal, the defense of a French manufacturing company in a breach of contract suit by an American design company resulting in a substantial settlement in favor of our client, and representation of a theater operator in the defense of a lawsuit brought by an entertainment production company resulting in dismissal of the lawsuit.
Mr. Klein obtained his B.A. (Mathematics) from Northwestern University (Dean’s List of Distinction) in 1977 and his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1980. He has been admitted to practice in California since 1980 and is a resident of our Santa Monica office.
Santa Monica Office
Mr. Levinson’s practice consists primarily of estate planning, estate administration as well as business formation and tax planning.
Mr. Levinson received his JD from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, Los Angeles, California in 1956, and was a member of the UCLA Law Review, 1954-1955. He has been an active member of the California State Bar since 1957. He has been certified as a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Tax Specialist, California Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Levinson has extensive experience in estate planning, trust administration, probate and probate administration. He has also had extensive business experience as a general partner in both real estate and oil and gas ventures, as well as an initial investor, officer and director of a start-up electronics company.
He is of counsel to the firm.
Santa Monica Office
Mr. Miller’s practice includes both real estate transactions and litigation. He specializes in the area of commercial real estate transactions. Since 1999, he has represented clients in the successful closing of over $5 billion of commercial real estate transactions throughout the United States, primarily involving net leased properties. His recent transactions include $1 billion in sale-leasebacks with public companies, such as Citibank, BMO Harris Bank, Rite Aid, and Pep Boys; the acquisition of limited liability companies owning a $200 million investment banking headquarters building; residual value financings; credit tenant lease financings; and the acquisition of remainder interests in over two million square feet of commercial property.
He also represents clients in real estate litigation, workouts and other disputes. Recent litigated matters and workouts include the litigation and successful settlement of a mechanic’s lien foreclosure action on behalf of the general contractor, the litigation and successful settlement of a dispute involving a fair market value purchase option on behalf of a real estate investor, the representation of a commercial landlord in connection with the bankruptcy of the sole tenant and the representation of a lender in a real estate loan workout.
Mr. Miller obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Hamilton College (summa cum laude) in 1978 and his JD from Stanford Law School in 1981. He has been admitted to practice in California since 1981 and is a resident of our Santa Monica office.
PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
“Net Leases & Sale-Leasebacks, A Guide to Legal, Tax & Accounting Strategies,” Practising Law Institute (2016)
“Acquiring Real Estate from a Bankrupt Seller-Legal Issues” (Strafford webinar on July 9, 2013)
Acquiring Real Property from a Bankrupt Seller, 47 Real Prop. Tr.& Est. L.J. 413 (2013)
“Credit Tenant Loans” (Presentation at Interface Net lease West, Los Angeles, California on March 21, 2012.)
Using Letters of Credit, Credit Default Swaps and other Forms of Credit Enhancement in Net Lease Transactions, 4 Virginia Law & Business Review 1 (2009)
Off-Balance-Sheet Sale-Leasebacks and Synthetic Leases after Enron, 20 California Real Property Journal 4 (2002)
“Valuation of the Mortgagee’s Interest on Partial Condemnation” (15 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 227 (1982))
“System and Method for Conducting the Closing of a Real Estate Sale over a Computerized Network” (co-inventor) U.S. Patent #7,085,735
“Closing System for Closing Real Estate Transactions between a Plurality of Parties” (co-inventor) U.S. Patent #7,596,511
“System & Method For Generating Legal Documents” (co-inventor) U.S. Patent #9,355,370
Santa Monica Office