Stittsville lawyer volunteers his time to safeguard rights of local artists

Stittsville’s Byron Pascoe is a practicing lawyer who volunteers his time with Artists’ Legal Services Ottawa (ALSO). A group of Ottawa lawyers and artists formed ALSO six years ago and Byron joined the team four years ago. The group volunteers their time to “ensure artists are protected, know their rights, and aren’t taken advantage of because of a lack of information”. Most of the lawyers involved in ALSO have an artistic background – whether or not they practice arts associated law daily.

When Byron brought the notable work of the team and their upcoming symposium – When Arts Meets Law: The ALSO Arts Law Symposium – taking place on April 27th to our attention, we wanted to find out what ALSO and Byron were about. This is what was discovered.

Why would a group of lawyers take up the reins and voluntarily assist local artists? Byron responded “…Education is power, and we, along with our colleagues across Canada who volunteer their time for related organizations, want to ensure artists are empowered. We want them to focus on their artistic contributions to society, while understanding the business and legal aspects of having an artistic career, without those vital pieces of the puzzle getting in the way of their art”.

When asked if he has represented anyone from Stittsville with contracts or legal cases, Byron was quick to note, “I work with musicians, filmmakers and people who run creative businesses across Canada, including from my own backyard here in Stittsville where I’ve lived since 2008. For the most part, I assist artists who are seeking to understand and negotiate agreements they’re asked to sign, and to help my clients prepare agreements they want other people to sign. I have run workshops in Stittsville about creative businesses, music, and filmmaking. I’m always happy to chat about entertainment law topics to anyone who wants to listen!”.

Who makes up this group? The lawyers on the team include Lyndra Griffith who has written children’s books, Byron Pascoe formerly produced television programming and Lise Rivet creates abstract expressionism style paintings. She took courses at the Ottawa School of Art from 2007 to 2012 and has exhibited at art fairs and at an exhibit called “Reinventio” at the former La Nouvelle Scene. Brooke MacDonald grew up going to an arts school (major in dance) and was coordinator of a dance company in Montreal (and now does weekly drop in classes in Ottawa). Soon-to-be lawyers are – Alex Verrilli, a musician, and Emilie Brianna Scott, a vocalist, acrylic painter and clothing designer. Local artists who donate their time to ALSO are Max McGuire a writer, director and filmmaker and new to team is Joel Elliott who is a musician from the band Jumpin’ Joel Flash & The Magic Machine.

Attending the University of Windsor Law School, Byron took business law and intellectual property law. He took the applicable law courses that would enhance his entertainment law expertise. “Courses from business associations to copyright are extremely relevant to an entertainment law practice”. He added, “During law school, I got my entertainment law fix in other ways too. I co-founded the law school’s entertainment law society, and co-founded and co-managed The Charter Project, which focused on getting Canadians thinking about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms leading up to its 30th anniversary in April, 2012. This  involved producing public service announcements with Canadian celebrities, which ended up on Canadian television networks and in cinemas”.

If you are a local artist and want to learn more about legal considerations relating to your artist career, attend the symposium on Saturday, April 27 at the Nouvelle Scène, 333 King Edward Avenue, from noon until 7pm. Early bird registration before April 8 is only $10.00, $15.00 after that date and $20.00 at the door. The full schedule will be available online soon. Visit their web site: http://www.artslawottawa.ca/ or Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/artslaw.ca/. You can get tickets online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/when-art-meets-law-the-also-arts-law-symposium-tickets-55665890176.

Byron Pascoe has practiced entertainment law since 2014 with the law firm Edwards PC, Creative Law. Lyndra Griffith from ALSO also recently joined the law firm. Both Byron, and the firm’s Mark Edwards, will be speakers at the symposium this year.


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