Atlanta music industry attorney Joel A. Katz resigns from Greenberg Traurig

Atlanta-based entertainment attorney Joel A. Katz has worked with the Recording Academy for decades.
Photo: Ben Rose for TJ Martell Foundation
Atlanta-based entertainment attorney Joel A. Katz has worked with the Recording Academy for decades. Photo: Ben Rose for TJ Martell Foundation

Powerhouse Atlanta attorney Joel A. Katz, the founding chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s global media and entertainment practice, has exited “by mutual understanding.”

A statement from the firm’s executive chairman, Richard A. Rosenbaum, said Katz resigned on Dec. 31.

The statement also reads: “Our global entertainment practice remains strong, diverse and among the largest, most dynamic and highest rated in the world, led by Chair Bobby Rosenbloum in Atlanta, assisted by Vice Chairs Barbara Meili in New York and Dan Black in Los Angeles, as well as Jay Cooper, the founder of our Los Angeles Entertainment Practice, leading music industry lawyers Jess Rosen in Atlanta and Paul Schindler in New York, and many others. We thank Mr. Katz for his contributions over the years and have no further comment at this time.”

A spokesperson for Katz confirmed that the attorney notified Greenberg Traurig of his resignation on Dec. 31 and said that he is currently on holiday.

In January 2020, Katz was accused of sexual harassment by Deborah Dugan, the ousted CEO of the Recording Academy who worked for the organization for a few months starting in August 2019. Dugan filed a 46-page statement with the Equal Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles that alleged during a dinner meeting in 2019, Katz repeatedly commented on her appearance, called her “baby,” invited her to travel on his private plane and attempted to kiss her.

Through his attorney, Katz “categorically and emphatically” denied the accusation.

Joel A. Katz during the Music is Medicine exhibition opening at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University on Thursday evening February 4, 2016. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
Joel A. Katz during the Music is Medicine exhibition opening at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University on Thursday evening February 4, 2016. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Credit: BEN GRAY / AJC

Credit: BEN GRAY / AJC

Katz, a New York transplant who came to Atlanta more than 40 years ago and landed James Brown as his first client, has worked with the Recording Academy since the late 1980s.

Katz worked as outside general counsel for the Recording Academy - which produces the Grammy Awards - since 2002 and in the mid-1990s served on the Academy’s board of trustees.

In 2016, he negotiated a $600 million pact to keep the Grammy Awards and additional Recording Academy programming on CBS through 2026. He’s also a regular presence on Billboard’s annual “Power 100” list of music business dynamos.

Katz’s influence in Atlanta is deep. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1995 and in 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue renamed a portion of Northside Parkway as Joel Katz Parkway. Katz’s moniker is also attached to the Kennesaw State Music and Entertainment Business program, which Billboard named as one of the top music business schools in the country in 2019.

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