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When it comes to interpreting a ponderously worded brief, Robert Spoo doesn’t flinch. The 49-year-old copyright lawyer, an associate at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco, is a former University of Tulsa English professor and a James Joyce scholar. Spoo has written extensively on the Irish modernist author, who is famous for his near impenetrable novels. But it was at the James Joyce Quarterly, which Spoo edited for 11 years, that he discovered that Joyce’s prose wasn’t nearly as difficult to unravel as the copyright issues surrounding his work. These days, as the pro bono general counsel for the 39-year-old International James Joyce Foundation, Spoo guides other scholars through the thicket.

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