Senior Litigation Counsel
Bruce Bellingham joined the firm in 2001. He earned a Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Pennsylvania, then he taught as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Sociology at Florida State University where he was awarded academic tenure. During leaves from F.S.U. he earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. He received two graduation prizes: the Civil Trial Advocacy award and the M.E. Goldstein Memorial Prize in Labor Law. Before coming to SGR, he was an associate attorney at Kaufman Coren & Ress. He is admitted to practice in Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York state courts and is admitted to the federal courts in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Southern District of Florida, the Eleventh and Third Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Initially, Mr. Bellingham planned to return to academia. But, when an employment discrimination case he handled through the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Smith v. Int’l Services, Inc., CIV. A. 95-2038 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 9, 1997), resulted in a judgment of more than $1 million – the largest ever won by student attorneys – he was hooked: “I decided to be a litigator.” He earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997 and was awarded two law school graduation prizes: the Civil Trial Advocacy award and the M.E. Goldstein Memorial Prize in Labor Law. His commercial litigation work was illustrated by M & P Management, L.P. v. Williams, 594 Pa. 489, 937 A.2d 398 (Pa. 2007), when Mr. Bellingham challenged a technically invalid judgment against a client. For two years the judgment was undisputed, until the creditor asserted a lien against other property the client was inheriting. The creditor’s affiliate bought the property of greater value than the debt at a foreclosure sale, credited only the nominal auction price, then sought to recover the balance, in effect seeking twice the amount owed. The client initially sought only relief from the double-dipping new lien, but the creditor was intransigent. Confronted with a procedural 30–day limitation on moving to strike judgments of this type, Mr. Bellingham persevered through two lower court losses until a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of his client, re-establishing the apparently lost principle that void judgments may be challenged at any time. The client recovered his property, wiped out the improper lien, and offset his old, genuine mortgage debt with damages incurred when the over-reaching creditor wrongfully controlled the property.
Mr. Bellingham’s practice includes representation of artists, arts institutions and related copyright work. He was awarded the 2009 Volunteer of the Year award from the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia for his work with the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, see http://www.artsandbusinessphila.org/awards/highlights09.asp.
His arts and entertainment work ranges from contract and entity advice to copyright litigation, with an emphasis on explaining to artists – particularly musicians – the legal context that affects their work. In litigation, he brought a songwriter’s co-authorship claim to against a major label, music publisher and hip-hop artist to a successful settlement; recovered textbook authors’ rights in their work from a non-performing book publisher after bringing suit; has persuaded a non-performing record label to assign back all rights to recordings to the artists; and is presently bringing an action against a manufacturer who cheated his graphic designer of full payment, failing to realize that she owns copyright in the design of the manufacturer’s packaging. He has just begun a new case defending the trademark of an entity that mediates between non-profit associations needing marketing services and a consortium of graphic artists and writers wishing to provide those services. A large Silicon Valley commercial entity seeking to trademark a similar name has brought a trademark cancellation action in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In addition to litigation, Mr. Bellingham routinely advises artists, especially musicians, and has drafted a wide variety of agreements between artists and others. He has also drafted a variety of contracts for a producer and manager specializing in advertising models.
Mr. Bellingham has been named one of the “Super Lawyers” in Super Lawyer magazine which is a division of Thomson Reuters.
Bruce Bellingham Super Lawyers
Mr. Bellingham is co-author of Legal Interviewing (with Alan Lerner and Augie Hermann), National Institute of Trial Advocacy (IBSN 1-55681-580-8). He regularly serves as an arbitrator for the Compulsory Arbitration Program of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and also serves as an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau of Washington, D.C. and Eastern Pennsylvania and is a certified “Lemon Law” auto claim arbitrator for the BBB.
- University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D. 1997
- University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D., Sociology 1984
- York University, M.A. 1980
- Trent University, B.A. 1974, With Honors
- Commercial Litigation
- Financial Institution Litigation
- Real Estate Litigation
- Florida, 1998
- Pennsylvania, 1999