Michelle M. Wahl


Michelle is a partner at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP and is licensed in Illinois and Indiana state and federal courts. With a Masters of Law in Intellectual Property, Michelle is the Vice Chair of the firm’s Entertainment and Media Practice Group and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation and Transactional Services Practice Group. Her copyright and trademark practice focuses on intellectual property prosecution and related transactions, including performing trademark availability searches and providing advisory opinions, as well as preparing and filing trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and copyright registrations with the United States Copyright Office. Michelle also assists with the oversight of the firm’s extensive trademark docket and conducts required monitoring and maintenance of clients’ trademark portfolios, as well as provides clients with corporate counseling and innovative corporate solutions to address their respective needs. 

Michelle further provides comprehensive representation in the drafting, negotiating and executing of various entertainment-related contracts and licenses, including but not limited to band member agreements, artist management agreements, session player agreements, performance agreements, sound engineer agreements, recording and personal services agreements, and licensing agreements. As a former artist manager, she has implemented many facets of national and regional tours, assembled benefit and charity concerts, communicated with various industry personnel, facilitated radio and internet publicity campaigns, arranged radio, print and internet interviews, and assisted in the development of press kits and websites promoting local talent. Michelle has also guest lectured on entertainment and intellectual property-related topics at The John Marshall Law School and the DePaul University College of Law, as well as served as a panelist on various other entertainment-related continuing legal education courses. Michelle is an author and editor of the Litigation Update Column of the ABA’s Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Journal and has also had numerous articles published by the Chicago Music Guide.

Michelle also practices in asbestos litigation and toxic tort defense litigation for various products and premises and serves as national coordinating counsel for various defendants involved in asbestos litigation.

In addition, Michelle serves as Chair of Swanson Martin & Bell, LLP’s Community Service/Pro Bono Committee and proudly volunteers her time on the Associate Board and as a pro bono attorney to Lawyers for the Creative Arts, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to eligible clients in all areas of the arts. She recently served as Chair of the Young Lawyers Division for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, where she was recognized as the Rising Star recipient and received a Meritorious Service Award and President’s Commendation. She is currently serving on the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel’s Board of Directors.


Asbestos Litigation
Toxic Tort Litigation
Entertainment and Media Law
Intellectual Property Litigation and Transactional Services

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
    • Board of Directors, 2015-2018
    • Rising Star Award, 2013-2014
    • Meritorious Award, 2013-2014
    • President’s Commendation Award, 2013-2014
    • Chair, Young Lawyers Division, 2013-2014
  • Lawyers for the Creative Arts
    • Vice President of Associate Board, 2016-2018
  • American Bar Association
    • Columnist and Editor, Litigation Updates, Entertainment & Sports Lawyer Journal
  • Defense Research Institute
    • Young Lawyers Liaison, IP Litigation Committee
  • Women's Bar Association of Illinois
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Indiana State Bar Association
  • Indianapolis Bar Association
  • Women in Music, Chicago Chapter
  • Recording Academy, Member


  • “Entertainment Case Law and Industry Updates,” ABA Entertainment & Sports Law Journal, 2017-2018
  • “Seemingly Simple Ways to Make Money on Your Musical Works,” Chicago Music Guide, March 2018
  • “Making Your Mark in the Music Business,” Chicago Music Guide, March 2018
  • “A Win for Songwriters – Mechanical Royalties on the Rise,” Chicago Music Guide, April 2018
  • “BMG out $25 Million when the Fourth Circuit Reverses the Decision Against Cox Communications,” Chicago Music Guide, May 2018"
  • Songwriters – Grab a Fork and Dig Into the Spotify Settlement Pie," Chicago Music Guide, August 2017
  • "Music Licensing Transparency – Within Arm’s Reach?" Chicago Music Guide, August 2017
  • “Entertainment Case Law Updates,” ABA Entertainment & Sports Law Journal, 2016-2017
  • “U.S. Music Industry’s Open Letter to the U.S. Government – Support Europe’s Copyright Reform and Reconcile the Royalty Payment Disparities,” Chicago Music Guide, March 2017
  • “2016 – The Year the Record Business was Reborn?” Chicago Music Guide, March 2017
  • “The Future of the ASCAP/BMI Consent Decrees – Calm or Chaos?” Chicago Music Guide, July 2016
  • “The Music Industry – ‘What’s Trending?” Chicago Music Guide, June 2016
  • “That’s Mine! Why Intraband Agreements are a MUST!” Chicago Music Guide, April 2016
  • “Songwriting – Turning a Hobby into a Livelihood,” Chicago Music Guide, February 2016
  • “A Peek into the Latest Entertainment-Related Litigation Matters and Industry Developments,” ABA's Entertainment and Sports Lawyer, November 2015
  • “The Do's and Don'ts of the Music Business,” Chicago Music Guide, 2014
  • “It’s All in the Delivery,” Chicago Music Guide, 2013
  • “Assembling Your Team,” Chicago Music Guide, 2008
  • “Breaking Down the Barriers to a Successful Songwriting Career,” Chicago Music Guide, 2008
  • “Trademarks,” Chicago Music Guide, 2008
  • “The Art of Artist Management,” Chicago Music Guide, 2008
  • “The Road to Getting Signed,” Chicago Music Guide, 2008
  • “The Copyright,” Chicago Music Guide, 2008


  • Guest lecturer, Music Business Entrepreneurship Masters Program, Azusa Pacific University, May 2018
  • “Breaking into the Entertainment Industry,” DePaul University College of Law, October 2017
  • “Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings – Copyright Basics,” 2112, October 2017
  • “Making Your Mark in the Music Business – Trademark 101 for Musicians,” 2112, August and February 2017
  • “Entertainment Industry and Litigation Updates,” 2112, September 2016 
  • "Both Sides of the Coin," The John Marshall Law School Entertainment & Sports Law Society, March 2016
  • "Careers in the Music Industry,” DePaul University College of Law, March 2016
  • "Ins and Outs of the Entertainment Industry," IICLE, September 2015
  • "Entertainment Law Panel," The John Marshall Law School, October 2015
  • "Young Lawyers Perspective - State and Local Defense Organizations," DRI Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, October 2014
  • “Chicago Music Industry Insiders,” John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois, October 2014
  • “Strategies for Success: Ensuring Success in Your First Position,” Young Lawyers Division, Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, October 2013
  • Entertainment Law Seminar, Entertainment and Sports Law Society of The John Marshall Law School, 2007


Chicago, September 7, 2018
Law360 Profiles Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP for 2018 Illinois Regional Powerhouse Series
According to the article, "Swanson's attorneys have flexed their muscles in several Illinois courtrooms this year, helping to fend off more than $100 million in claimed damages in several suits rooted in the firm's more institutional areas of practice."

Chicago, September 5, 2018
Wahl Moderates Women in Music Chicago Panel
Established in 2016, Women in Music Chicago is a chapter of Women in Music that is dedicated to fostering equality in the music industry through the support and advancement of women.

Chicago, May 16, 2018
Wahl Lectures on Music Business at Azusa Pacific University
Wahl presented on national and international copyright and trademark, and music revenue and royalty streams.

Chicago, Lisle, Libertyville, St. Louis, Madison County, March 30, 2018
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Supports Investing in Justice Campaign
All attorneys in the firm's Chicago, Lisle, Libertyville, Madison County and St. Louis offices donated to the campaign.

Chicago, St. Louis, February 20, 2018
Illinois Supreme Court Recognizes Wahl, Attorneys for Participation in Mentoring Program
Run by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program creates opportunities for experienced lawyers to provide professional guidance with lawyers in their early years of practice.

Chicago, October 17, 2017
Wahl Gives Entertainment Presentations at DePaul, 2112
Wahl spoke at DePaul University College of Law on "Breaking Into the Entertainment Industry." and at 2112 on "Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings - Copyright Basics."

Chicago, May 9, 2017
Sheean, Wahl Speak at DRI Business Litigation Seminar
Sheean chairs the DRI Business Litigation Committee; Wahl will speak to young lawyers on copyright basics in musical compositions and sound recordings.

Chicago, March 29, 2017
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Supports Investing in Justice Campaign
For the second year in a row, all attorneys in the firm's Chicago, Lisle, Libertyville, Madison County and St. Louis offices donated to the campaign.

Chicago, February 28, 2017
Wahl Presents on Trademarks for Musicians at 2112
Wahl spoke to attendees on “Making Your Mark in the Music Business – Trademark 101 for Musicians.”

Chicago, Lisle, January 5, 2017
Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Names Three New Partners
Sullivan practices in Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Lisle office, while Lothson and Wahl practice in the firm’s Chicago office.

Chicago, August 24, 2015
IICLE Entertainment Industry CLE Features Becker, Wahl as Speakers
The CLE is titled, "Entertaining the Idea: The Ins and Outs of Representing Entertainment Industry Clients."

Chicago, June 2, 2015
Wahl Elected to IDC Board of Directors
Wahl and fellow newly elected directors will be recognized at the IDC's Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon

Chicago, June 17, 2014
Wahl Receives Rising Star Award at IDC Awards Reception
Wahl also received the Meritorious Award and the President's Commendation.

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