Aric Kurzman, J.D. ‘02, Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and General Counsel for the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, appeared last Tuesday as a guest speaker for students enrolled in the LL.M. Program in Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law.
Aric Kurzman, J.D. '02 & Harold Flegelman
Kurzman spoke on the importance of entrepreneurship and perseverance. “I really like valuing companies, trying to project revenue streams, negotiating the deal based on that business information,” he said, “and then using legal savvy to negotiate informed deals.”
Harold Flegelman, Associate Dean and Director of the Program, was delighted to have Kurzman as one in a series of guest speakers which is part of the LL.M. program. “There is no way to measure the value to the students of hearing his professional history and experience,” he said.
The path that led Kurzman to the Arsht Center was a winding and unorthodox one, replete with lessons for aspiring lawyers. After graduating from Miami Law and passing the Florida Bar in 2002, Kurzman moved to Los Angeles with a desire to work as a talent agent. He took a job working in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency (WMA), ultimately working his way up to becoming an agent in the reality television sector. He soon took an interest in the Corporate Consulting division at WMA.
“To me, this little boutique division of this big company seemed like a place where bigger thinking was going on and really leading the agency into the future,” he said.
Kurzman made the transition, and in Corporate Consulting he and his co-agents represented such brands as General Motors, Anheuser Busch, Hilton Hotels, and the NFL, helping them to become integrated into Hollywood content; for example, the deal that introduced the Chevrolet Camaro as Bumblebee in Transformers (2007). Kurzman planned an expansion of WMA’s then-small Miami office to better service clients looking to reach the growing Spanish-speaking market. He moved to Miami in 2008 to execute this plan, where he also expanded WMA’s music practice to include electronic music artists.
“You have to be entrepreneurial about it,” Kurzman said. "If you’re really good at answering phones and being an assistant and setting meetings, that’s pretty much where it’s going to end. But creating new businesses and new revenues that don’t exist get you noticed.”
He left William Morris in 2009, when he “accidentally discovered” a desire to practice law through an interest in art — Kurzman put his legal education to use developing Primary Flight, a Wynwood-based mural festival which served as the inspiration for the famous Wynwood Walls, into a stand-alone art gallery. He then worked at a boutique talent management agency back in Hollywood with Simon Fuller, a TV producer best known for creating American Idol, for two years before moving back to Miami in 2012. Less than a year later, he joined the Arsht Center as its General Counsel.
“If there’s a thread that runs through everything he’s described, that thread is the importance of initiative,” Flegelman said. “He’s the poster child for not giving up, and for putting your career in your own hands.”
Working at the Arsht Center comes with its own unique set of challenges — from booking artist agreements and sponsorship deals to drafting contracts with the Arsht Center’s suppliers. Kurzman’s most recent long-term project is focused on upgrading the Center’s parking infrastructure.
Kurzman’s creative side shone through during his Law School years, too. “The entertainment and sports law program didn't exist then, which is unfortunate. Knowing that I had an interest, I looked to opportunities to build my own curriculum.” He enrolled in classes of a common theme including Copyright, Visual Arts and the Law, and Film and the Law, among others.
Last week was Kurzman’s fourth visit to Miami Law as a guest speaker. Flegelman emphasized how important the EASL program’s guest speaker series is to the students. “The response of the students is so positive, particularly when they can interact with people like Aric,” he said. “We’re trying to give them all the tools that they need to compete for positions that are hard to come by.”
Upcoming events for the EASL students include visits to the Miami Heat and the Pérez Art Museum, as well as a lecture from an expert in virtual reality.
At the end of Kurzman’s lecture, Flegelman underscored one of the important lessons from the attorney’s unique career trajectory. “He took something less than he had hoped for [by accepting an entry level position in the WMA mailroom], and then made something out of it. It’s not just the position you get, it’s what you do with it; and that’s a message for all of us.”