The question has been frequently debated in the legal community: What is the difference between an attorney providing business consulting services or acting as legal counsel? The California Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion on the concern in the context of the entertainment industry. Britton v. Riggs, B303446. Though issued “unpublished,” the Britton decision offers insight and guidance on the business consultant/legal counsel dichotomy debate.

The plaintiff, California bar member Layne Britton, had worked in non-legal executive positions at CBS, as vice-president of business affairs at NBC Entertainment and executive vice-president of business operations for the now-defunct United Paramount Network. However, during his career he didn’t work at a law-firm, as a solo attorney or as a litigation attorney.