John Mashni is a trusted advisor to successful entrepreneurs, business owners, artists 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, 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
- State Bar of Michigan
- Arts, Communications, Entertainment & Sports Section (ACES), Chair 2019-2020, Officer 2017-2020
- Ingham County Bar Association
- Soundsgood Ministries, Board of Directors
- Student Statesmanship Institute
- Managed large trademark portfolios for clients in the agricultural, financial, consulting, and scientific fields
- Managed cybersecurity breach responses for incidents covering millions of affected individuals in 200+ countries
- Prepared seed and series round financing documents for startups in various rounds of financing
- Served as corporate and intellectual property counsel for numerous startups
- Served as general counsel on multiple films
- Drafted complex UBIT opinions for tax-exempt clients
- Advised individuals, companies and tax-exempt organizations regarding the tax implications of IP ownership in an entertainment context.
- Prepared investor documents for film producers to raise money for a feature film
- Served as general counsel for a record label
- Served as corporate advisor for multiple startups
- Negotiated the sale of a reality TV show to a cable network, securing executive producer credits for first-time television producers
- Reviewed music publishing agreements and arrangements for individuals and record labels
- Reviewed agency and management contracts for up-and-coming creatives
- Converted tax-exempt organizations from mutual benefit organizations to Section 501(c)(3) organizations
- Secured music rights for feature films
Recent Blog Posts
BizTech Law Blog
- Legal Impact of a Pandemic - Interview with John Mashni
- Three Steps to Forming a Charity or 501(c)(3) Organization
- Why Public WiFi is a Health Hazard
- Legal Essentials: Biggest Mistakes when Dealing with Copyrights
- Legal Essentials: How to Select a Trademark for your Business
- Business Rap: Preventing Phishing Scams
- Business Rap: 2018 Nonprofit Trends
- The Dangers of the DarkNet
- Business Rap: Starting a Nonprofit Side Hustle
- Business Rap: Ransomware Survival Guide
- Executive Order: Revised Requirement for Businesses and Other Organizations, Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast, July 19, 2020
- Whitmer Issues Executive Orders on Masks at Polling Places and Extending Remote Government Meetings, Foster Swift Municipal Law News E-blast, July 17, 2020
- Whitmer Enacts Mandatory Mask Executive Order, Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast, July 10, 2020
- Governor Whitmer Loosens Restrictions for Northern Michigan and the UP; Previews Future Regulations for Downstate Businesses, Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast, June 5, 2020
- Executive Order 2020-42: "Stay-Home, Stay Safe" Order Extended until April 30, Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast, April 9, 2020
- Stay-at-Home: What the Governor's Executive Order Means for Michigan Businesses, Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast, March 23, 2020
News & Events
- Minimizing Legal Impact Of COVID-19, Michigan Business Network, March 24, 2020
- Nonprofit Formation and Operation, Arts Council of Greater Lansing, smARTS Workshop, November 4, 2019
- Forming a Nonprofit, MICPA: 2019 Nonprofit Conference, October 28, 2019
- Bottom Line I.T., Michigan Business Network, November 21, 2018
- Technology and Cybersecurity Legal Trends., ASK/Michigan Business Network, November 20, 2018
- Tax Issues and Challenges Surrounding Innovative Fundraising, MICPA: 2018 Nonprofit Conference, October 9, 2018
- Minimizing Legal Impact of Coronavirus for your Organization, Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast, March 17, 2020
- Mashni Named SBM ACES Chair, Foster Swift Business & Tax Law News, February 4, 2020
- Firm Launches Cybersecurity Hotline, October 1, 2019
- Foster Swift Elects New Shareholders, Lansing Regional Chamber, January 21, 2019
- Foster Swift Attorneys Named to Leadership Positions with State Bar of Michigan ACES Section, Southfield Chamber of Commerce, October 12, 2017
- John Mashni Elected to Arts, Communications, Entertainment & Sports (ACES) Council, October 19, 2015
- Entertainment law attorney releases series of videos for aspiring film & TV writers, February 11, 2015
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