PRACTICESBusiness and Commercial Litigation
Entertainment and Sports Law
EDUCATIONUniversity of California at Los Angeles School of Law, Los Angeles, California
J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence - 1985
Honors: UCLA National Moot Court Team
Honors: Elected to National Order of Barristers
Honors: Teaching Assistant, Legal Research & Writing
Honors: Melvin Belli Advocacy Scholarship Recipient
Honors: Winner, Distinguished Advocate Award
California State University, Northridge, California
B.A., Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude - 1982
Honors: Best Writer Award, Journalism Department
Honors: National and State awards for speech, debate, and dramatic arts
Honors: Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism Honor Society
Minor: Speech Communication
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas
Sally C. Helppie
Sally’s entertainment law practice runs the gamut from representing very high-budget Hollywood productions to small independent producers, as well as individual writers, actors and financiers. She negotiates acquisitions and distribution, drafts a wide variety of financing documents, advises on insurance and bonds, addresses Guild and Union matters, handles copyright and trademark issues, performs script clearances, prepares production contracts, and litigates disputes. She has performed the legal work on numerous narrative and documentary films, with budgets ranging from $100,000.00 to more than $100 million. Sally also has negotiated and drafted contracts for numerous television pilots and series on broadcast, cable and streaming networks.
Sally is a seasoned trial attorney whose litigation work emphasizes contracts and business torts, trademark and copyright issues. Her practice encompasses all aspects of commercial trials and appeals before the state and federal courts, as well as various arbitration panels. Sally has been lead counsel in literally hundreds of cases on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, smaller businesses and individuals. She has won many cases before juries in state and Federal courts, and has successfully represented parties at all levels of appeal. Her litigation background also has proved to be invaluable in negotiating and understanding complicated entertainment deals. Sally has consistently been rated AV® Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell (its highest rating) for both legal ability and ethical standards.
In addition to her legal work, Sally is an award-winning movie producer and CEO of Advocate Pictures, LLC, a full-service production and consulting company. Sally produced the 2008 action thriller, “Exit Speed,” the 2009 chiller, “Haunting at the Beacon,” the 2012 family-friendly “Beyond the Farthest Star,” and the 2014 action-packed “Infiltrators.” Sally also has produced several documentary shorts.
Sally has been an Adjunct Professor in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts since 2011, where she teaches two semester-long courses: The Producers’ Seminar and Media Career Preparation. She has been a Clinical Adjunct Professor of Law in SMU’s Dedman School of Law since 2016, teaching Entertainment Law I and II, and previously serving as Director of the Small Business and Trademark Clinic. Sally is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and law schools, has presented at numerous industry events and film festivals, and regularly speaks at CLE seminars.
Sally is the past Chair of the Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. She is a past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section and currently serves on the Council. She is past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Business Litigation Section (which won the Section of the Year award under her leadership), and a past-chair of the Dallas Bar’s Judicial Evaluation subcommittee. She has been selected for the Producers’ Network at the Cannes Film Festival and is a member of Women in Film-Dallas, and the Dallas Producers Association.
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPSState Bar of Texas Entertainment and Sports Law Section Member and Past Chair
Dallas Bar Association Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section, Council Member and Past Chair
Dallas Bar Association Business Litigation Section, Member and Past Chair
Dallas Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Subcommittee, Past Chair
Dallas Producers Association, Member
Women in Film—Dallas, Member
National Order of Barristers, Member
PAST EMPLOYMENT POSITIONSBell Nunnally & Martin, PLLC, Partner
Johnson & Gibbs, P.C. (f/k/a Johnson & Swanson), Shareholder and Associate