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John W. Mashni

313 South Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48933-2114
T 517.371.8257
F 517.367.7357


John Mashni is an active member of the Startup Entrepreneurial Emerging Development (S.E.E.D.) Practice Group with a strong focus in tax law, entertainment law, non-profit corporate law, intellectual property law, technology law, school law services and employee benefits.

He empowers businesses owners to follow their passions by helping them to seize business opportunities and navigate legal challenges. As a former entrepreneur, business owner and manager, John has a deep understanding of the businesses he represents as well as the knowledge and savvy of a seasoned attorney. He helps clients do deals, protect assets and plan for the future through his practice.

Through his experience in the business world, John understands, appreciates and delivers the level of service that his clients expect. The principles that guide his work include:

Be a "Finisher." John despises loose ends and open loops, and always strives to deliver results in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible.

Always Look Forward. A good attorney focuses on the issue before him and on those coming three, five or ten years down the road. Just as his clients create forward looking business plans, John provides proactive counsel to help his clients successfully navigate legal issues in the future.

Never Stop Learning. John is a passionate student across many industries and is always thinking about the legal implications of new and emerging industry patterns and trends.

Work Hard. Have Fun. John loves working with creative individuals who have a vision to share and a story to tell. While most of his clients don't particularly enjoy dealing with the legal aspects of their industry, John works hard to make the process as painless as possible, sometimes even managing to inject a bit of fun into it.

Protect. Protect. Protect. The intellectual property (IP) of businesses is unfortunately under constant threat of misappropriation and misuse. John vigilantly protects his clients’ most important assets. A helpful, easy to understand guide to common IP issues that John co-authored is available here.

Prior to earning his law degree, John worked as the manager of a media department for a large leadership development company. There he supervised and coordinated audio, video, web, and print projects for tens of thousands of customers. John also ensured all marketing materials complied with FTC guidelines and federal law.

In addition to managing the department, John performed freelance work on numerous film and video projects and he worked as a director, director of photography, audio engineer as well as visual effects artist. John also completed coursework at the New York Film Academy.

Sharing Knowledge

John recently released a set of Legal Basics Videos to answer general questions for small businesses and people in the entertainment industry.

Small Business Videos:

Entertainment Business Series:

Beyond Foster Swift

John is focused on serving his community. He loves to devote his free time to his role on the Board of Directors for Soundsgood Ministries, a non-profit organization that uses multimedia and concerts to reach youth across the nation and then equip those individuals to develop and nurture their own communities.

Through his experience serving on this and other non-profit boards, John has developed significant skill assisting 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations deal with the multitude of issues they face.


Memberships & Affiliations

Legal Affiliations:
  • State Bar of Michigan
    • Arts, Communications, Entertainment & Sports Section (ACES), Council Member
  • Ingham County Bar Association
Community Involvement:
  • Soundsgood Ministries, Board of Directors
  • Student Statesmanship Institute


Representative Matters

  • Served as general counsel on multiple films
  • Negotiated the sale of a reality TV show to a cable network, securing executive producer credits for first-time television producers
  • Secured music rights for feature films
  • Reviewed agency and management contracts for up-and-coming creatives;
  • Served as general counsel for a record label
  • Prepared investor documents for film producers to raise money for a feature film
  • Reviewed music publishing agreements and arrangements for individuals and record labels
  • Advised individuals, companies and tax-exempt organizations regarding the tax implications of IP ownership in an entertainment context. 



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News & Events

Speaking Engagements

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Other Videos

Fallacies of Marketing Legally
How to Turn Your Book Into a Movie
Why You Must File a Form 990
Forming a Business Entity
Crowdfunding: Income is Taxable
Forming A Charity: 501(c)(3) Organization
I Have a Script and I Want to Make a Movie
Get It in Writing: Contracts
Music Licensing 3 Tips
Service Agreements: Promote Smooth Working Relationships
Copyright Basics: 3 Tips for Small Businesses Regarding Copyright
Film Financing
Selecting A Trademark
How to Evaluate Investment Opportunities
Financing Your Vision
Selecting Professional Advisors for Your Small Business
Will You Read My Script?
3 Tips for Creating a Reality TV Show
Cease & Desist: What to Do When You Receive the Letter
The Difference Between Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt
IP Basics
Tips for Finding Investors for Your Film
The Biggest Mistakes When Dealing With Copyrights
How Do I Protect My Ideas?
Crowdfunding 101
Intellectual Property: Copyrights
What's in a Name?
Tips for Distributing Your Film


Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D., 2012

Michigan State University, B.A., 2004, summa cum laude, English

New York Film Academy, 2000

Bar and Court Admissions