In the Spotlight—Jon Festinger, KC

Practice Point

In the Spotlight—Jon Festinger, KC

This month’s spotlight shines on Jon Festinger, KC, of Chandler Fogden Lyman Law Corporation, and Adjunct Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC, Vancouver.

How did you first get involved with CLEBC?

In 1985, I was a young associate at a downtown law firm and was lucky enough to be doing some work for one of the firm’s clients, the Vancouver Canucks. In fact, I had been sent out by John Chesman, the then CFO of the Canucks, to accompany Jack Gordon, the team’s GM on a road trip to Ontario to sign some of the Canucks’ picks in the NHL draft that year (most notably a power forward named Jim Sandlak). A short time after that, John Chesman was invited to speak at a CLEBC Sports Law program. He asked me to write the paper for it. The paper was titled “Negotiating NHL Player Contracts: The Team’s Point of View”. Fortunately for me, it seems that no copies of the binder from that day can be found anywhere.

What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?

Most recently, “Ethics and Commercial Law” with Valerie Mann and Henry Wood, K.C. on December 6, 2023. Coming up next, “Current Issues in Social Media and Copyright Law” with Rowan Meredith and Mark Leung on June 17, 2024.

Your areas of practice include intellectual property, digital media, entertainment, and sports law. What inspired you to work in all these different areas?

When I was in grade 10 in 1972-73, I somehow convinced my parents to let me have a television set in my room. Today, many kids have one – it’s usually called a laptop (and sometimes called a phone). I credit much of my career, and certainly my areas of legal interest to what was perceived by most others at the time as a terrible parenting decision.

What are some of the key topics and trends that you are seeing in these areas?

Digitization has brought with it many things. In terms of legal impacts, virality and ease of replicating creative works and manipulating those replications would be the most obvious. We can copy almost anything, build on its creativity with our own, and then publish it to the world. All with the remarkable efficiency of keystrokes and mouse clicks. There is no going back, and legally speaking we have not fully figured out how to move forward. The digital world is perpetually “in progress”, and so too is the law’s ability to cope with that progress.

You have had a very diverse career. You have been in private practice, you have been appointed to various positions in the broadcasting industry, authored books, and taught for more than 30 years.  To date, has there been a particular role or experience that has stood out for you?

The start-up of Vancouver Television (“VTV”) stands out. In part because of the sheer technical and business challenges of launching the first all-digital conventional television station that all of us at the station had to face together. It also stands out because of how much I had to learn and change – how much my legal life had not prepared me for. As a result, I came to value others and their capacity for growth in a whole new way. That probably has something to do with why I teach so much now.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

My family, first and foremost. Law second. Beyond that I’m still that kid in grade 10 trying to make sense of the world through the clues provided by media – movies, sports, music, video games, books, and what’s left of television.