Revealed: Billboard’s 2019 Top Music Lawyers


Four Fordham Law alumni made Billboard’s 2019 Top Music Lawyers list that includes 113 attorneys at key companies and law firms that are on the front of the music industry’s legal battles and deals. Paul Robinson ’83, Doug Davis ’98, Ilene Farkas ’93, and Adam Zia ’04 were all recognized for their work in areas that span major copyright reform to representing major entertainment clients. Fordham Law School is also listed fourth among Billboard’s Top Music Law Schools.

Executive vp/general counsel, Warner Music Group
Fordham University School of Law
In his global role for WMG, Robinson, 61, lobbied stateside and abroad for copyright reform during the past year. He represented Warner in successfully calling for passage of the European Union’s Copyright Directive and joined industry colleagues in urging Congress last September to enact the Music Modernization Act. Both measures aim to improve royalty rates and help artists and labels fight copyright violations. “It never felt like a sure thing,” says Robinson of the MMA. “It was a unanimous vote, which is almost unbelievable, given the divisive politics we have in the U.S.”

Founder/principal, The Davis Firm
Fordham University School Of Law
Davis, 47, negotiated executive contracts for Ryan Press as president of U.S. A&R for Warner Chappell and for DJ Mormile as executive vp West Coast for Def Jam and also brokered Dionne Warwick’s Las Vegas residency. Last fall, Davis executive-produced American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, a Grammy-winning jazz album that featured 53 musicians who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “Finding a way to use clients and their resources to further causes was so rewarding,” he says.

Partner, The Zia Firm
Fordham University School of Law
Zia, 40, this year marked the fifth anniversary of his firm and last year celebrated client Starrah’s ASCAP songwriter of the year honor, as the co-writer of two Hot 100 No. 1 hits, Camila Cabello’s “Havana” and Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You.” “I’ve worked with Starrah since the start of her career,” says Zia, who also represents French Montana, Rich the Kid and Tierra Whack. “Watching Starrah evolve into a songwriting superstar is why I got into this business.”

Partner, Pryor Cashman
Fordham University School of Law
For clients Ed Sheeran and Roc Nation, Farkas, 51, mounted a defense against copyright infringement suits involving the singles “Thinking Out Loud” and “All the Way Up,” respectively.

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