Kenneth “Kenny” Matuszewski, pictured at the Chicago Bar Association's "Spring into Service" Event with fellow Associate Board member Myka Bell, is an Associate Counsel at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, where he focuses his practice on patent prosecution. Currently, he is the Treasurer of the Associate Board. Before taking on that role, Kenny was a Volunteer Attorney for LCA and a general member of the Associate Board. A firm believer that learning is a life-long process, Kenny obtained a B.S. in Computer Science from Oregon State University in December 2019. Previously, he attended the University of Notre Dame, where he double-majored in Biological Sciences and Spanish and received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
How did you learn about Lawyers for the Creative Arts and what led you to apply to join the Associate Board?
I learned about LCA in law school, after hearing members of the organization speak at an Intellectual Property Law Society meeting. Since childhood, I have believed in giving back to my community and using my gifts to help others. As a fellow musician, I realized I could connect with LCA’s clients on a deeper level and use my unique background to solve their legal problems. Therefore, it was an easy decision for me to serve as a volunteer for the organization and apply for membership to the Associate Board shortly after my law school graduation.
I joined the Associate Board in 2017, and have served as the Treasurer since 2019, so I’ve been a member for 3 years and part of the Executive Board for almost a year now.
What’s your favorite LCA memory?
A few years ago, I drafted an agreement to transfer the copyright interest in several illustrations to an author of a young adult novel. My client was an up-and-coming author with the ambition to create a book series that would empower young and middle-grade girls. Helping her make an agreement that was clear and fair to both parties was incredibly rewarding.
A few months later, I received a copy of her book. This was especially meaningful, because, through our discussions, I learned just how hard it is to publish a book, especially when legal issues are involved. In my own small way, I helped an artist accomplish her goals. The fact that she personally signed my copy and acknowledged me in the book was the cherry on top.
What do you enjoy about being an Associate Board member?
We have a unique group of members that all share a common connection with the arts. Everyone is also passionate about their work and talented, but most importantly, they are kind. I have incorporated advice that other Associate Board members have given me into my own practice, and they have broadened my artistic horizons.
Which LCA or Associate Board events have you participated in?
I have participated and helped organize several events. First, I gave a presentation about esports and IP at 2112 in 2017. A year later, I developed a program with fellow Executive Board member Michael Reed that discussed the artistic merits of video games. Since then, I have served as one of the Co-Chairs for the Education Committee. Currently, we are planning an educational program titled “From Student to Master: What You Need to Know About Copyright Litigation,” that will take place on March 25th. The goal of the panel is to give attorneys who do not practice copyright law the resources they need to succeed if they take on such a matter.
Outside of educational events, I try to attend as many of the socials and signature LCA events as possible, such as the Holiday Party, Annual Luncheon and Shindy. I haven’t missed most of these events in years!
What types of LCA matters have you taken on?
I have taken on a wide variety of matters, including copyright, trademark, and patent registrations; copyright ownership agreements; trademark and copyright litigation; and LLC formations.
What advice would you give to an attorney who is considering taking an LCA matter?
Take on matters that interest you, even if it’s outside your comfort zone or practice area. There are so many resources available to LCA volunteers, such as LCA’s Video Law Library and LawSmarts, and the broad network of volunteers. LCA Board members have taken the time to talk through issues with me and give advice on more than one occasion. Further, working hard, being empathetic and listening to your client is often the most important thing you can do. For many clients, this is the first time they are able to share their story, so providing a safe and comforting environment is crucial.
What has it been like working with our clients? How does it differ from your job at your firm?
At both of my firms, I have focused my practice on patent law: litigation at my first, and prosecution at my current firm. While I have given advice on the patenting process to some of my clients, more frequently, I find myself helping out with other intellectual property matters. This has allowed me to apply my knowledge and skills in new settings, which has only helped me become a better lawyer.
Working with LCA clients is always a treat. I am continuously impressed by their creativity and passion for their work. Their enthusiasm is infectious, so I am always happy to help them. It also allowed me to immediately develop client counseling and management skills, which can be difficult to obtain right away. I have even formed personal connections with a few of my clients. Some have added me on social media, while others have sent me holiday cards.
Do you have any personal background in the arts?
I have been a musician since I was 9 years old, when I first started playing the trumpet in the 4th grade concert band. Since then, I have also learned to play the tuba, euphonium, and harmonica. I also dabble in the mandolin and ukulele and am looking to begin learning the bass guitar.
This musical background has allowed me to play in a wide variety of settings, including wind ensembles, jazz bands, marching bands, brass bands and even mariachi bands. I have taken away something from each group I have joined over the years, which has only helped me become a better musician and develop a greater appreciation of music.
Do you participate in or follow the arts here in Chicago?
I currently play tuba and euphonium in the Chicago Bar Association’s Barristers Big Band and Symphony Orchestra (“CBASO”). We had the chance to play at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (“CSO”) Concert Hall and live out one of my childhood dreams. I never would have thought that being a lawyer would give me the chance to achieve some of my other dreams, yet the CBASO allowed me to do that. Joining forces with hundreds of chorus members to play the Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth and the “Hallelujah” Chorus of Handel’s Messiah was incredibly moving and inspiring. I’m pretty sure I had goosebumps for the last half-hour of the concert.
In the past, I have played trumpet in the Union League Club’s Brass Band. When I have the time, I try to catch as many music shows as I can at bars and smaller venues. People are often surprised when they find out I know my way around a mosh pit as well as a symphony hall.
I also write a lot. These days, most of my writing is related to my practice area and the legal profession. Luckily, there’s an abundance of topics in those areas, which helps prevent writer’s block, and allows me to write a diverse array of articles. Currently, I am one of the Head Editors for the Chicago Bar Association’s @theBar blog. I have served in that position for the past two years, right around the time the blog started.
As a Head Editor, I have worn many hats, including Editor, Publicist, Manager, Writer, and even Recruiter. Doing so has allowed me to shape the image, content, and style of the blog, and develop high-quality content for our readers. It’s also given me a greater appreciation and understanding of writing and content creation that several of my LCA clients experience every day.
How does LCA support the arts in Chicago and why do you think this work is so vital to the arts?
LCA has a huge role in supporting the arts in Chicago. Without LCA’s help, artists would be bogged down by legal quagmires. That prevents them from doing what they do best: creating and making social change through their works. LCA is the lifeboat that rescues the artists from the bog.
LCA also plays a critical role in helping artists live out their dreams and enabling them to focus on their work. In its own way, LCA sets artists free to live out their truths, without having to worry about legal issues, costs, or other barriers to entry. The law is often considered a roadblock, and a tool to imprison or suppress artists’ expression. LCA turns that way of thinking on its head. Instead of being an instrument of oppression and suppression, the law can be a force for good and help artists.
Finally, which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend?
Mozart in the Jungle, on Amazon Prime, is the perfect show for LCA volunteers. Tracking the journey of a young oboist in New York City, the show captivated me with its strong characters and storytelling. It also discusses the unique challenges that classical arts, such as the symphony and opera, face today, such as relevance, fundraising, and engaging the next generation. Knowing the various classical songs sprinkled throughout the show is not necessary to enjoy the show, but it definitely made the show even more enjoyable for me!
Thank you to Kenny for taking the time to answer our questions! Continue to check social media and this website for future Featured Members from our Associate Board.