Photography: Mandy Nash

Congratulations on your new law firm, West Attorneys!
Let’s get into it, tell us a bit more about West Attorneys and how you plan to bring change within the creative industry and make legal advice accessible to creatives?
West Attorneys: Thank you! So, the reason why I decided to start my law firm was that I was tired with the outdated way in which legal issues were approached and wanted to pave the way for “millennial-lawyers” like myself. I’ve always been passionate about music and the arts and when I was studying my undergraduate I discovered the field of Intellectual Property law.

It fascinated me to see how the creative industry was regulated and that nobody (not even Kanye) was above the law. I’m hoping to make legal advice as accessible as possible for creatives in Cape Town. I’ve found that usually creatives are not well informed of their rights and that they often get taken advantage of.

Do you feel that creatives should be afraid or enthusiastic towards the laws in general?
West Attorneys: The right to property (including your Intellectual Property) is a right that is protected by the Constitution. If they realise the value of their work and understand their rights, then enforcing them will be so much easier. So, creatives should definitely be enthusiastic towards the laws! The laws are there to protect their property at the end of the day.

You hosted your first free legal advice for creatives workshop 5 March 2020 (First Thursdays) and covered intellectual property, call-out culture on the internet, contracts etc. Will you be hosting more of these workshops? What topics will you be covering in the workshops to come and how do we know when the next workshop will be happening?
West Attorneys: We will definitely be hosting some more free workshops in the near future. We’ll be posting all info and topics covered on our Instagram/Facebook page.
Instagram: @westattorneys
Facebook: West Attorneys

Is there room for a “one-size-fits-all” mentality when setting up contracts? 
West Attorneys: The biggest mistake you can make with a contract is to Google and use a template! Firstly, South African laws are different from other countries, so you might end up with a contract that’s not even enforceable. Secondly, attorneys know the laws and will tailor your contract to your specific needs to ensure you are protected. I know that approaching an attorney may seem intimidating and expensive, but I am hoping to change that perception.

What would you say is the most common mistake creatives make that will lose them the Intellectual Property rights to their work?
West Attorneys: Not having a proper agreement in place with the person who will be using your work. A lot of disputes can be avoided if both parties sign a short, written agreement.

If we decided that we are in a legal pickle, how do we approach getting legal advice from you? Where do we start?
West Attorneys: Just send me an email! Initial consultations are free for people who attend our workshops and we’ll discuss your problem and possible solutions.

If you would like to figure out whether you need legal action and what the next steps are or if you want to set up preventative measures for your business, big or small, contact Francois at legal@westattorneys.co.za