Doran Chandler, a folk-rock musician turned lawyer has been recognized by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and Who’s Who Legal: Canada (Sports & Entertainment) as one of Canada’s preeminent entertainment lawyers. He is co-founder of Chandler Fogden Aldous, a Vancouver-based firm specializing in entertainment law, and his practice focuses on advising clients on all aspects of film, television, and new media projects. In addition to his practice, Doran is a regular guest lecturer at the Allard School of Law’s Media & Entertainment Law class, which he particularly enjoys because it gives him the chance to connect with current students and share his experiences since graduating.
What drove you to pursue law?
I was touring in a band in the 1990s and anytime something went wrong, whether it was related to booking contracts, dealing with agents or even negotiating tour bus repairs, those issues fell into my lap to handle. I realized I enjoyed negotiating business issues and handling contracts, so while touring I began studying for the LSAT and I got into law school that year.
Did you always want to go to law school?
Plan A had been to study architecture. I was accepted to an architecture program in Halifax, but I decided it was not for me. It was not until my mid-20s that I realized law was a much better fit for me.
You graduated in 1999 and ever since you have worked as an entertainment lawyer in Vancouver. What drew you to the field of entertainment law?
Coming from a music background, it was important to me to remain involved in a creative field, even if somewhat tangentially. Davis & Co. (now DLA Piper) started a small entertainment group while I was articling, and I was able to transfer my articles and eventually join the group after a stint in securities.
You have earned a reputation as one of the leading entertainment lawyers in Vancouver. Reflecting on your career thus far, what is an accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?
Building a successful practice that focuses exactly on the area in which I set out to work.
Do you have any advice for current law students or young lawyers who are hoping to break into the entertainment law industry?
At our firm, we always recommend that articling students and new associates try to get a good corporate basis rather than jumping right into a focused field like entertainment law. We deal with a wide range of issues, so having some broader knowledge and experience is valuable. I also suggest learning as much as possible about the entertainment industry. When I first started, I read as many entertainment industry books as I could find.
You are a co-founder of Chandler Fogden Aldous, a Vancouver-based law firm specializing in entertainment law. What motivated you to start your own firm?
One of my current partners, Kyle Fogden, and I were at another boutique entertainment firm that was winding up. It was a natural progression for us to take the leap and set up our own firm. We were fortunate enough to have been able to retain virtually all of the clients at the time and have expanded from there including the addition of my law school classmate, Patrick Aldous.
I imagine that Vancouver’s thriving entertainment industry keeps your practice fairly busy. What is the most interesting or enjoyable aspect of your work? Is your practice largely confined to Vancouver or does your work stretch across Canada and beyond?
The most enjoyable aspect is the fact that at the end of each file, there is something created. I often get involved at the inception of productions and enjoy seeing the progression as projects are developed and ultimately are produced and distributed. Although we do have specific expertise in Canadian productions, I work on projects which are produced all over the world, including in the US, Europe and Asia.
When you’re not busy at work, what do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy skiing, sailing, traveling, reading, watching movies, gardening and spending time with my family.
What is a TV show, movie, or book that you adore and would recommend to anyone?
Most anything by Wes Anderson.
In an alternate universe, if you were not a lawyer, what would be your dream career?
A landscape architect.
Originally published in August 2018 in Alumni News.