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Legal Services

Help when you need it. Knowledge so you won't.

WALA provides legal services and support to the Washington arts community in several ways: education programs, legal clinics, and legal referrals.

Legal Referrals

For legal issues that will require ongoing legal assistance, such as trademark protection, lawsuits, or contract negotiations, WALA offers legal referrals to attorneys within its network. Cases are placed via a biweekly listserv. Low-income artists and small non-profit organizations may be eligible for pro bono (free) legal assistance from our volunteer attorneys. Members whose income level exceeds our pro bono guidelines may receive referrals to WALA attorneys whom they will pay.

Please note that WALA does NOT provide legal advice to artists; rather, we administer a program that refers artists and arts organizations to outside attorneys for legal assistance.

Legal Clinics

WALA works with local law and business schools to host legal clinics for a limited number of WALA members. Issues that do NOT involve litigation, disputes, or other adversarial proceedings may be appropriate for a legal clinic. Issues that we are likely to handle include a review of a brief contract, a simple question about copyright ownership, or a review of correspondence. WALA can help you determine if your legal issue is one we can handle during a clinic or if you need more in-depth assistance. Clinics are free for WALA members and require pre-registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who may access the referral program?

    Any WALA member is eligible to receive legal services through WALA. To become a WALA member, click here

  • How much does the referral service cost?

    WALA legal referrals are free for WALA members. Legal services are also free if you qualify for pro bono assistance. To qualify for pro bono assistance, your annual income must be under $30,000 if you are single, or under $40,000 if you are part of a couple. Please be prepared to substantiate your income claim if necessary with appropriate tax documents.

    If you earn over our maximum qualifying income, you may negotiate a reduced fee with the attorney to whom you are referred, but WALA will not participate in this negotiation.

    If you are an existing nonprofit, and your annual budget is under $250,000, then you qualify for pro bono assistance.

    You will be responsible for expenses such as filing and registration fees and process servers.

  • When will I hear from my attorney?

    The answer depends completely on the availability and interest of our volunteer attorneys. Because we rely on volunteer attorneys, we cannot promise that you will receive a referral within a certain time frame.

  • What types of cases will WALA volunteer attorneys handle?

    The most common types of referrals to our volunteers include intellectual property (copyright, patent, trademark) matters, business formation matters, and drafting or reviewing contracts, but we can assist with other legal matters as well.

  • Am I guaranteed an attorney?

    No. WALA places the vast majority of requests with an attorney, but occasionally we cannot place a case. We will attempt to let you know as soon as we feel your case may not be picked up, and you are welcome to check in with us at any point during the process.

  • Does WALA offer discounted registration fees to events?

    Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts acknowledges that in some instances there will be persons who need to attend an educational workshop or event who are not able to pay full registration fees. WALA will handle such instances on a case-by-case basis and will work with the individual on alternative solutions. For persons who cannot meet the full registration rate, WALA may offer a reduced rate based on what the individual can reasonably afford to cover the cost of materials. For persons unable to pay a reduced rate, we may offer the opportunity to work at our registration area during attendee check-in, or assist in workshop set-up.

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Education Programs

The business of the arts is about more than just the creative spirit. From concept to creation, sale to distribution, art also involves complicated legal issues such as intellectual property, copyright, incorporation, and trademark, as well as the infinite possibilities of contract provisions.

For artists, arts and cultural organizations, entertainment start-ups and the attorneys who represent them, WALA offers workshops to help navigate the complex convergence of arts and law. A volunteer faculty of some of the most accomplished attorneys in arts, entertainment, and media law provides instruction at more than 50 regularly-scheduled courses each year.

WALA offers The Basics Courses – monthly workshops on copyright, trademarks, licensing, and forming a 501(c)(3) organization. These workshops are free to WALA members. Our popular six-week Creative Entrepreneurship Series is offered several times a year, teaching young and emerging artists the fundamentals of art entrepreneurship.

WALA routinely co-produces Advanced Seminars on discipline-specific legal topics, partnering with prominent arts and humanities organizations.

Need To Request Legal Services?

Please note that current WALA membership is required.

Become A Member Legal Services Form