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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 a trusted advisor to successful entrepreneurs, business owners, and creative individuals. An active member of the Business and Tax Practice Group, John serves as the leader of the Information Technology group, where he has a strong focus on business, intellectual property, startups, and nonprofits and tax-exempt organizations. In particular, John has extensive experience in both emerging technologies and entertainment. 

Through his practice, John empowers business owners and entrepreneurs to follow their passions by helping them to seize business opportunities and navigate legal challenges. Using his background as an entrepreneur, business owner, marketing professional, and manager of a media department, John has a deep understanding of the businesses he represents as well as the knowledge and savvy of a seasoned attorney.

John frequently helps clients assess and execute large deals, including strategy and negotiations, always focusing on long-term, sustainable results.

John also has experience forming and advising tax-exempt organizations, including charities and 501(c)(3) organizations.  John speaks on nonprofit and tax-exempt topics often and John currently teaches Taxation of Nonprofits at a local law school. 

John also has a unique perspective on the entertainment industry, as he attended film school and has also worked in several capacities on feature films. John has advised film producers, served as general counsel on films, represented musicians and record labels, advised authors regarding publishing contracts, and negotiated reality television deals. 

With the advent of social media, nearly every company is a media and entertainment company. John has advised businesses and entrepreneurs about how to capitalize and also protect oneself in this constantly-evolving digital and brand marketplace. 

Through his experience in the business world, John understands, appreciates, and delivers the exceptional 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. John is focused on results. 
  • Always Look Forward. Just as his clients create forward-looking business plans, John provides proactive counsel to help his clients successfully navigate anticipated legal issues as well as current ones. An effective advisor focuses on immediate issues and on those coming three, five, or ten years down the road.
  • Never Stop Learning. John is a passionate student across many industries and topics and is always thinking about the legal implications of new and emerging industry patterns and trends.
  • Work Hard. Have Fun. John loves working with 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. John vigilantly protects his clients’ most important assets, which are under constant threat of misappropriation and misuse. A helpful, easy to understand guide to common IP issues that John co-authored is available here.
  • Do the Right Thing. John focuses on doing what’s right for his clients at all times.  There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.    

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, marketing, web, and print projects for tens of thousands of customers and ensured all marketing materials complied with FTC guidelines and other federal laws. In addition to managing the department, John freelanced on numerous film and video projects in the roles of director, director of photography, audio engineer, and a visual effects artist. Moreover, John also completed coursework at the New York Film Academy.

John lives in DeWitt, Michigan, with his wife and four children.  He loves being active in his community and supporting numerous nonprofits that he cares deeply about. 


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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Fallacies of Marketing Legally
Get It in Writing: Contracts
Financing Your Vision

Entertainment Law

Tips for Finding Investors for Your Film
Tips for Distributing Your Film
How to Turn Your Book Into a Movie
I Have a Script and I Want to Make a Movie
Music Licensing 3 Tips
Film Financing
Will You Read My Script?
3 Tips for Creating a Reality TV Show

Intellectual Property

IP Basics
The Biggest Mistakes When Dealing With Copyrights
How Do I Protect My Ideas?
Intellectual Property: Copyrights
Copyright Basics: 3 Tips for Small Businesses Regarding Copyright
Selecting A Trademark

Small Business Resources

The Difference Between Nonprofit and Tax-Exempt
Crowdfunding 101
What's in a Name?
Why You Must File a Form 990
Forming a Business Entity
Crowdfunding: Income is Taxable
Forming A Charity: 501(c)(3) Organization
Service Agreements: Promote Smooth Working Relationships
Selecting Professional Advisors for Your Small Business

Other Videos

Cease & Desist: What to Do When You Receive the Letter
How to Evaluate Investment Opportunities


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