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January 25, 2011 / Melissa Yuan-Innes

Entertainment/Intellectual Property Lawyers

Some people think that writers should hire IP lawyers instead of agents.  This way, we pay them a one-time fee instead of 15% of our earnings on the project for the rest of our lives.  I’m not going to get into that, but because I now have a contract in hand, I researched IP lawyers.

Please note that this blog has been updated in 2014 at my new sitehttp://melissayuaninnes.com/recommended-intellectual-property-entertainment-lawyers/

And now for the 2011 talk:

I figure I should go with a Canadian firm and I like a few things about this one, Stohn Hay:

–they have a website (seriously, most of the ones on the Writers’ Guild website do not)

–they were recommended by Lexpert (http://www.lexpert.ca/500/Ranking.aspx?pa_id=E2)

–they have a 2 day wait because they’re busy with existing clients, which is probably a good thing

–their secretary, Lydia, was intelligent and helpful.  As a doctor, I’ve noticed that your staff reflects on you.

Since I am cheap, I had to guesstimate how much this would cost me.  Currently hourly rates range from $310-$600–seems like ouch (I don’t get paid that much as a doctor!  I save lives!  I went to school for 25 years!), but I guess that’s normal.  Lydia pointed out that it all depends how long they spend on it, and someone more expensive can take two seconds on it and it’s cheaper than someone cheaper per hour who pores over it for days.  Plus, see above about a one-time fee instead of 15% indefinitely.  YMMV.

If I didn’t choose them, I’d choose someone off of the Lexpert website.  This is the Ontario page, but I live in Ontario, so that’s good.

http://www.lexpert.ca/500/Ranking.aspx?pa_id=E2

Toronto
Most Frequently Recommended
Dhaliwal, Ken- Heenan Blaikie LLP
Hay, Ronald G.- Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond LLP
Russell, Jim- Heenan Blaikie LLP
Stamegna, Carolyn P.- Goodmans LLP
Steinberg, David A.- Heenan Blaikie LLP
Stohn, Stephen- Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond LLP
Zitzerman, David- Goodmans LLP

It seems to be based on data submitted by the firms themselves, but that’s better than nothing, which is what I knew about IP lawyers in Canada before now.

UPDATE

Sandra Richmond called me back ~24 hours later, beating the 2 days waiting period.  She said that the CBC contract is standard and that all she or I should do is contact the WGC to make sure the rates were correct.  (They were.)  If I did want her to assess it, it should take less than an hour, but she pointed out that sometimes what they don’t put in the contract is as important as what they do put in, so you have to know contracts, which I obviously do not.

She also used to be a book editor and felt confident assessing book contracts, but said that she’s licensed for Ontario law and I should keep that in mind.  If LA calls, I need a Hollywood lawyer.

BTW, they bill in 6 minute increments, but not everything is billable.  For example, I didn’t end up hiring her to go over the contract, so the time with me didn’t count.  But I’m trying to pay it forward by saying that she seemed like an intelligent and honest entertainment lawyer.  (Not IP lawyer.  And I didn’t make a lawyer joke.  See?  I learned a lot already.)

One of my clever university friends went into law.  She contacted me after reading this note on Facebook and recommended two IP lawyers.  I will check them out in hopes of a book deal in my lifetime.  They are

John Koch (www.ktbarristers.com)

and

Mark Hayes (www.hayeselaw.com).

She also said that Lexpert is all self-promotion by the big companies.  It basically sounds like drug companies funding their own research.  Still, if I get a film deal, I now know Sandra.  I hope to say hello to John and Mark as well.  And one of my elementary school friends friended me after seeing this note.  Ah, the much-lauded power of social networking!

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Tracey / Feb 1 2011 8:42 pm

    I work for the Canadian IP Office, and have heard of all but 2 of the firms, and have had no bad experiences (from my side anyways) with any of them.

    • melissayuaninnes / Feb 3 2011 10:13 pm

      Hi Tracey,
      That’s great. I just realized that you used to be Tracey Mitchelmore and we went to elementary school together. Very cool.

      Do you know John Koch (www.ktbarristers.com) or Mark Hayes (www.hayeselaw.com)? Feel free to message me instead if you prefer.

      Thanks for your advice!

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