University News

UCLA School of Law receives $5 million gift from Kenneth Ziffren

Donation will establish Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law

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Kenneth Ziffren
UCLA Law

Ken Ziffren is a leading media and entertainment attorney, and an alumnus and long-time supporter of UCLA Law. He has been an adjunct professor at the school since 1998.

UCLA School of Law has received a $5 million gift from attorney Kenneth Ziffren to establish The Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.

UCLA Law is widely recognized as having one of the strongest and top-rated programs in the nation for the study of entertainment and media law. The Ziffren Center will enable the school to expand its program further through curricular innovations, research support, new programming and hands-on skills training that will benefit students, faculty and the greater community. 

“We are so fortunate to count Ken Ziffren among our most dedicated supporters and most distinguished alumni,” said UCLA School of Law Dean Jennifer Mnookin. “Ken was a remarkable UCLA law student — at the top of his class, editor in chief of UCLA Law Review and a law clerk after graduation to Chief Justice Earl Warren. His career in media and entertainment law has been equally remarkable, and throughout he has given back to our institution so generously with his time, wisdom, knowledge and philanthropy.

“Now, with this extraordinary and inspirational gift, he both cements and ensures UCLA Law’s preeminence in media and entertainment law. We are enormously grateful to Ken, and I am thrilled and honored by this opportunity to create the Ziffren Center at UCLA School of Law.”

Ziffren, who earned his law degree from UCLA in 1965, is one of the nation’s leading media and entertainment lawyers and has long been an ardent supporter of UCLA Law. An adjunct professor at the school since 1998, he currently teaches the popular Motion Picture Distribution seminar. He is a member of the UCLA campuswide Centennial Campaign Cabinet and UCLA School of Law Campaign Cabinet, and he serves on the UCLA School of Law Board of Advisors. He also was chair of the five-year Campaign for UCLA School of Law (2008–13), which raised more than $110 million, a year ahead of schedule. Ziffren is co-founding partner of Ziffren Brittenham LLP, one of the country’s preeminent media and entertainment law firms, and is married to Ellen, a nonprofit consultant.

In 2014, Ziffren was named by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the city’s film czar, charged with increasing film and television production in California. Aside from his representation of top talent in film, television and new media, in 1988 he served as a neutral mediator to help resolve the Writers Guild strike, and in 1994 and thereafter, he represented Starz in creating the premium pay television service. He also represented the Television Academy in 2003 and 2011 in negotiating the Emmy Awards’ broadcast agreements.  

“Since graduating from the law school, I have been deeply committed both to UCLA Law School and to the advancement of the entertainment industry,” Ziffren said. “I know that I have benefited greatly from my UCLA Law experience, as a student, as a member of the faculty and as an involved member of the alumni community. It’s very gratifying to be able to extend support to the next generation of leaders, and to help guarantee that the law school’s center will continue to be the best in the nation.”

Ziffren’s gift is part of the Centennial Campaign for UCLA, a $4.2 billion fundraising drive scheduled to conclude in 2019, the university’s 100th anniversary.

“Ken truly sets the standard to which we all aspire, both personally and professionally,” said Susan Akens, executive director of the new center. “His contributions are immeasurable, and as in years past, so many students will continue to benefit from his insight for years to come. He’s often referred to as the dean of entertainment lawyers, and it’s impossible to imagine a more fitting name to grace our center than his.”

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