Chuck Cordes - Artist's General Counsel
I've always loved diving deep into a complicated legal topic, figuring it out, then using what I've learned to help my client accomplish something important to them. When I worked in a large San Francisco law firm as a general litigator I moved among several practice areas: construction, real estate, health, water. The common thread was taking on a new area and gaining mastery.
I enjoyed the intellectual challenges of that work, yet I longed to work on behalf of clients whose causes truly mattered to me. To that end, I had a couple of side-line specialties. One was as a pro bono immigration lawyer helping asylum seekers—immigrants looking to gain protected resident status here in the United States to avoid dangerous and/or discriminatory circumstances in their home countries. I also began representing visual artists in my spare time, starting with my wife Betsy. I read and revised her licensing contracts, which led to helping other artists.
It's almost seven years now since I left big firm life and in that time I've been drawn to a number of new and expanded practice areas, primarily in the area of intellectual property rights—things like copyright and trademark applications, agreements, and disputes. I cover other bases, too. I help artists form LLCs, advise them on issuing shares in a corporation, review leases for commercial shop space, help engage independent contractors, explain how to comply with government regulations, and much more.
In short, I’m an artist’s "general counsel" serving clients who need a lawyer well-versed on the full range of issues that a visual artist-entrepreneur meets in running a business.