SPOTLIGHT: LOUISE HUGHES, GROUP GENERAL COUNSEL
Louise Hughes is the Group General Counsel for The Blair Partnership and Pottermore. Louise manages the Legal and Business Affairs team, providing legal support for all of our clients every step of the way. We caught up with Louise to find out more about her and her team.
Hi Louise! What made you want to work as a lawyer within a literary agency?
I have a background in publishing, having worked at Penguin for thirteen years in their legal department. I really enjoyed the process of applying law to the literary field but after representing publisher’s rights for so long I wanted to know what it would mean to be on the authors’ side. I love advising authors about the rights that they have and how to protect those rights and exploit them to their best advantage. I think many lawyers are drawn to working within publishing or similar roles as it is a way of combining the application of legal principles with a creative field, allowing you to really care about and engage with the product that you are bringing to market.
Describe an average day for you in your role.
No two days are quite the same. I could start off by looking at a publishing contract for an author, then attending meetings on rights’ strategy or brand protection, and in between supporting the wider team on legal issues arising in connection with the Pottermore side of the business such distribution agreements for J.K. Rowling’s digital ebooks and audiobooks, new products or marketing initiatives or social campaigns. Me and my team regularly liase with clients and external lawyers, working with publishers and their legal and contract teams to negotiate the best possible deal.
What kind of extra support do you as an in house legal team give to clients?
Our legal team has a substantial range of skills across the intellectual property field from copyright to trademarks and brand protection through to data protection, marketing and knowledge of general commercial law and deal negotiation. We can turn our hand to most legal issues that hit our desks or know who to speak to find out the answers! We are very commercial, leaving no aspect unturned in our 360 approach to rights management that ensures our clients’ rights are best protected and exploited in the best way possible for their benefit.
TBP is engaged with the Legal Social Mobility Partnership organised by ITV’s inhouse lawyers. How does the company interact with this scheme and what does it mean?
The legal team at The Blair Partnership have been involved for the last few years with Legal Social Mobility Partnership scheme(http://www.legalsocialmobilitypartnership.com/), which works with various law firms and in house legal teams to create a legal social mobility program that gives students aged 16-18 year olds in cities throughout the UK an opportunity to find out about the legal profession and how to access it. We take part by giving talks to attendees on Harry Potter and the law – describing how the law can help protect the rights in Harry Potter works. We do this to show how the law can be applied to so many exciting creative fields and to show our own person journeys with the attendees to highlight the paths to access these careers. I personally think it is so important that everyone sees how many different ways there are to practise law and that they should be open to all and not to the few – the legal profession benefits from inclusivity and diversity.
What is your favourite book and why?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I read this when I was travelling in South America post university and I loved the writing, the characters, the emotion and the magical and strange twists and turns as the story develops. It’s a book that has really stayed with me, and thinking about it now actually makes me want to find my old copy and read it again!