[Uncommon Counsel]: "We concluded a deal backstage at an AC/DC concert in London"

by Mackenzie McCarty26 Mar 2014
Not many New Zealand lawyers can lay claim to doing business backstage at an AC/DC concert in London – but McLaughlin Law founder and principal, David McLaughlin, certainly can.

Along with AC/DC drummer, Phil Rudd, McLaughlin’s firm represents a veritable “who’s who” list of New Zealand musical and entertainment talent, including Tiki Tane, Six60, Shapeshifter, Ladi6, the Blackseeds – as well as the company which manages recent Grammy-winner Lorde.

However, while entertainment law no doubt has its perks, McLaughlin’s quick to note that he works incredibly hard.

“Day to day I’m really a contract and copyright lawyer,” he says. “My days are involved with drafting, reviewing and a lot of that stuff revolves around copyright and intellectual property… A lot of people, when they think of entertainment law, they think of music awards and concerts and there’s definitely all those things, but the problem is when you get busy at the practice – you sign the deal, everyone goes out to celebrate and you go back to the office to finish it off.”

Alongside his performing clientele, McLaughlin also spends an increasing amount of time working for New Zealand’s growing video game development industry. One of his firm's clients, Grinding Gear Games (based out of Titirangi) won the 2013 Gamespot PC Game of the Year award for their Game Path of Exile, which has close to 5 million registered users.

“You can have an independent developer who works somewhere like the Hawkes Bay, who can still be producing top class game. There’s a lot of funding coming in and it’s definitely a growing industry.”

McLaughlin says he’s always had an interest in music and “tech stuff” was also a songwriter for and founding member of the band Vauxhall, with whom he has recorded 3 EPs and one full length album.

“I did play a lot of music growing up and played in bands and did a bit of touring, but was never particularly brilliant...So I started at one of the big firms and did my time there and then a few opportunities came along and about seven-and-a-half years ago I stepped out and started McLaughlin Law.”

While he admits there are the odd “diva” moments – “We get the odd phone call in the middle of the night where someone’s done something they shouldn’t have,” -  McLaughlin says the vast majority of his clients are entirely professional.

“Kiwis are great at coming up with ideas – in the past we’ve been hamstrung by the fact we’re right down the bottom of the world. But suddenly, thanks to technology, a country like us, even though we’re quite isolated, some of our creativity can come to the fore. That’s one of the most exciting things about the clients we work with – there are some incredibly entrepreneurial people in New Zealand.”

McLaughlin writes regular legal columns in Onfilm, New Zealand Musician Magazine and his own entertainment law focused blog 'Law Will Tear Us Apart'. He’s also a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors, the New Zealand and the International Video Game Developers Associations, the New Zealand Screen Production and Development Association, the Australasian Performing Right Association and the New Zealand Institute of Directors.