James L. Johnston of Davis+Gilbert LLP

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Jim Johnston helps sports, entertainment and media clients venture outside their comfort zone and into uncharted territory. By understanding their business goals and managing their risk, he’s cleared paths for clients to invest in film and television programs, launch streaming services, and sponsor sports arenas with worldwide audiences. Fledgling sports leagues turn to him for airtight media, sponsorship and facility partner agreements to get their brands off the ground.

Jim’s clients have big ambitions. Whether they aspire to break into new businesses, launch an innovative product or service, or build toward the future, he puts himself in their shoes to understand their concerns from the inside out. Initially drawn to his reputation for negotiating complex agreements and closing challenging deals, clients find that it’s his commitment to prioritizing their greatest needs and addressing their biggest risks that gets them where they ultimately want to be.

In the fast-paced world of sports, media and entertainment, Jim positions his clients to pivot quickly to renegotiate deal terms or restructure sponsorships. He’s helped some of the world’s most well-known and up-and-coming brands negotiate Olympic and professional sports venue sponsorships and plan for uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jim has counseled clients through partnerships of massive size, scope and geographic reach while helping teams across multiple leagues and sports find common ground. Highly attuned to the costly wrinkles and roadblocks his global film, television and advertising industry clients face, he works with producers, studios and agencies to keep time-critical projects moving forward.

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California Clears the Way for College Athletes to Get Their “Fair” Share of Licensing Pie

Sending shockwaves across the collegiate landscape, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act (the Act) on September 30, 2019. The Act takes aim squarely at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) amateurism rules which prohibit student athletes from profiting from their athletic skill while in college and threatens to … Continue Reading


The transmission of live events through video-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat is raising concerns among rights holders. Advances in both legal and technological tools will be needed to effectively combat unauthorized transmissions. Challenge Although people have been using smartphones to shoot videos they share on social media platforms for some time, live video-streaming apps such … Continue Reading