Lesli D. Harris
Communications Law, Intellectual Property Law Member, Stone Pigman Walther Wittman LLC
13 years in practice
B.A. – University of Virginia, Art History and English, 1997
JD – Tulane Law School – 2002
L.L.M. (Master of Law) – New York University Law School, 2008
Native of Ohio
One of her toughest cases: Kevin Costner vs. Stephen Baldwin
Lesli Harris counts herself among the many New Orleanians who found themselves spurred to make life-changing decisions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“When I first went into law it was with the goal of focusing on intellectual property law,” she says. “I wanted to help artists.” Growing up in Bridgeport, Ohio, Harris did a lot of painting and drawing in high school and both her best friend and brother are artists. “When I graduated and started at Stone Pigman, however, I started doing a lot of general commercial litigation. Then after Katrina that translated into a lot of insurance defense work.”
In 2007, Harris decided it was time for a change.
“I realized I needed to specialize – to establish a real focus for my career,” she says. “I needed to get back to my roots.”
Harris spent the next two years in New York City, earning a Master of Law at NYU and working as a litigation law clerk at NBC Universal. In 2009, she returned to New Orleans and to Stone Pigman.
“I am so fortunate that they have always been supportive of me finding a focus for my career,” she says. “NBC Universal is actually one of our clients.”
Harris’ focus now is split between commercial litigation/entertainment law and assisting with local startup organizations.
“On the commercial litigation side I’ve worked with the New Orleans Saints on trademark enforcement, as well as litigation for the NBA,” she says. “On the startup side I’ve worked with a lot of technology companies through Idea Village and Power Moves NOLA. I help startups to protect their intellectual property – like trade secrets, branding, logos, taglines – through our Cornerstone Program, which provides small and up-and-coming companies with alternative rate structures to help them create a solid base for their business.”
Harris says that one of her toughest cases was working on the high profile dispute between actors Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin regarding Costner’s company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, which sold oil separating centrifuges to BP after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Baldwin and his business partner sued Costner and his business partner because they said they were not told the company had secured an agreement to sell machines to BP before they sold their shares in the company.
“It was a two-week-long trial, but in the end, we prevailed,” says Harris, who assisted in representing Costner. “It was a very complex commercial litigation case and it required a lot of managing different personalities. Plus, of course, it was a high profile case – there was a lot of attention on both my client and the outcome.”
Harris says her favorite part of what she does is working with up-and-coming companies.
“I love the startups,” she says. “I love getting to learn about all these fantastic ideas and getting to nurture them on the ground level. I want to be someone they can look to for help.”