After having worked with entrepreneurs in video game and digital media, Brandon Huffman leaves Hutchinson PLLC to launch his own firm. Huffman explains his reasoning and talks about the potential he sees for growth in the Triangle gaming and entertainment sector in an exclusive interview.

Huffman, a 2011 graduate of Ohio State’s law school, already is General Counsel for the International Game Developers Association. And he helped grow the video game practice at Hutchinson, which is one of the southeast’s best known firm that works with startups and emerging entrepreneurial companies.

“Entrepreneurial bug”

So why go his own way?

“Primarily because I caught the entrepreneurial bug,” Huffman tells The Skinny.

“Working with startups at Hutchison every day made me realize that they seemed to be having all the fun. And, I was at a pivot point. By striking out, I can focus more time on developing the interactive and digital media client base.”

Huffman, who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a journalism and mass communications degree in 2008, calls his new firm Odin.

“Odin is the chief god of the Norse pantheon” Huffman explained in his announcement. “I wanted to choose a name that conveyed something bigger than me, and Odin is an icon. Odin derived his power from knowledge of ancient runes and he used that to guide warriors in battle. The firm, like Odin, will use the knowledge of a sometimes archaic text – the law – to guide its clients in their endeavors.”

Solo launch

Right now, Huffman is going solo. But he has plans to add staff and already has a number of clients.

“So, there is a process required by the ethics rules that requires clients receive notice from the firm of my departure, then they get some time to decide whether to transfer their files. We sent out a number of transfer letters, and we are waiting on responses on a lot of them,” Huffman explains.

“Right now, about 15 have come back that they are coming with me, but more are coming in today and throughout the week.

“Several of my clients are local. Mighty Rabbit Studios, Limited Run Games, Leading Role, Inc., Breakiron Animation & Design, to name a few that have officially come over to the new firm. There are others I can’t mention because of the confidentiality requirements. There are also several out of state, including the International Game Developers Association, which I represent on a mostly pro bono basis.”

Triangle potential

Huffman sees lucrative opportunities for business right here in the Triangle, which is the home to Epic Games (Cary) and houses major operations for other firms including Red Storm Entertainment.

“The industry is definitely growing in the Triangle. It is also growing nationally and internationally. PC games (and by extension console games) went through a bit of a Renaissance as the barriers to entry went down (Unity and Unreal got cheaper, Steam Greenlight was big, Kickstarter fueled projects, etc.),” Huffman says.

“Indie games were the new punk music, in a way. Now, I think we are getting to a point where that accessibility is still there, but competition and quality have increased. Mobile is still grinding along as well.

“The amount of talent and resources in the Triangle puts it on the map as one of the centers of the industry. It’s no Los Angeles, meaning the concentration isn’t here yet. But really top notch talent can be attracted here by the bigger players (Epic, Red Storm, and the like). Then, they fall in love with the area and stick around even if their contract runs out or they decide to start their own company. There is also a really supportive community here that I think helps separate it from some other markets.”

Huffman announced his intent “to build a leading, video game, digital and interactive media and entertainment law firm, with a significant commitment to building the game development community both locally and more broadly, as well as pro bono and public impact matters.

“My practice was at a pivot point, and this move will allow me to more deeply focus on the industries where I am most committed.”

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