My friend Mark is looking for an IP lawyer or agent. 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.

In case you fall on the IP side, I’ve spoken to two Ontario IP/entertainment lawyers whom I’d recommend:

1. John Koch: When I was negotiating a short story contract with strict terms about not indemnifying the publisher and other confusing terms, John (a friend of a friend) called me back, explained what it meant and how to change the contract. Exactly what I needed.

2. Sandra Richmond said that my CBC contract was 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.)

One of my clever university friends went into law.  She contacted me after reading this note on Facebook and recommended two IP lawyers. One was John Koch, above. The other is

Mark Hayes. If my friend recommends him, I think he must be worth talking to.

I originally wrote about this for my CBC radio drama contract. I personally prefer lawyers with a website (seriously, most of the ones on the Writers’ Guild website did not, in 2011) and intelligent and helpful staff.  As a doctor, I’ve noticed that your staff reflects on you.

As for price, Stone Hay’s hourly rates in 2011 ranged from $310-$600. John and I worked out a different arrangement (nothing dirty).

One friend mentioned that Lexpert is all self-promotion by the big companies. A friend who works for the Canadian IP office said that (at least in 2011), she’d heard of all but two of the Lexpert firms, nothing bad.

Good luck!