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FIRM: Greenberg Traurig LLP

LAW SCHOOL: George Washington University

CLIENTS: Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Fox Entertainment Group, eBay Inc., MySpace.com

Ian Ballon's intellectual property career started with a speech.

It was 1995 and Ballon was at a law conference in Chicago to give a presentation about Internet law, which at the time was still a nascent field. He had just finished when another attorney approached him and expressed amazement at his expertise. He was the head counsel at software giant Oracle Corp., and he wanted to write a book about Internet law, so he suggested Ballon join him as co-author.

Ballon, still relatively new as a Silicon Valley lawyer at the time, didn't know the first thing about writing a book, but he agreed. When the attorney from Oracle dropped out from the project, Ballon continued writing.

The finished product, a four-volume series titled "E-Commerce and Internet Law" became a leading reference text for the industry and catapulted Ballon to the forefront of work in Internet and technology. Now one of L.A.'s leading Internet attorneys, Ballon represents Web, media and entertainment clients such as MySpace, McClatchy Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

A litigator who primarily focuses on intellectual property and privacy, Ballon last year helped MySpace win a $230 million judgment in a lawsuit against a notorious spammer who hijacked the online profiles of thousands of MySpace users. It was one of the largest judgments awarded in California in 2008, according to the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Ballon also counsels entertainment and Internet companies on how to structure their business models and technology to avoid running afoul of copyright laws.

"I basically advise companies on how to avoid people like me," he joked.

As the executive director of Stanford University Law School's Center for E-Commerce, Ballon often splits his time between Silicon Valley and his home in Malibu, where he lives with his wife.

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