Hal ‘Corky’ Kessler


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Corky is an entertainment lawyer with over thirty years of experience and has been the attorney and/or executive producer on over twenty-five films, with fourteen films currently in the works. Additionally, he has set up numerous film funds and has been a featured speaker at Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto, among other Film Festivals. Corky is an advocate for improved legislation regarding film investment and job growth as a result of filming.

Corky has worked on various films such as The Sum of Us starring Russell Crowe, which won the Australian Academy Award for best film, along with Driving Miss Daisy, Steel Magnolias, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, and Shirley Valentine.

In addition to his work in film, Corky was a criminal prosecutor for the D.A.’s office in Chicago before finding his true calling in entertainment. Currently, he teaches entertainment law as an adjunct professor at both Northwestern Law School and John Marshall Law School. Corky also taught a similar entertainment course at Columbia College Chicago’s film department. Additionally, Corky has written articles for Screen Magazine, along with other film and entertainment periodicals.

Corky has authored a reference book covering federal and state tax incentives as they apply to the entertainment industry. Furthermore, he has worked with various Governors and United States Congressmen in several states to implement new laws and federal tax incentives for investment in qualifying film and television projects. This led to the enactment of Sections 181 and 199 of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 and its 2008 extension and amendment.

Notable Representation

  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with private investors from China for a $200 million co-production deal with the U.S.
  • Participated in the application of Section 168 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was signed into law December of 2017 and became active January of 2018.
  • Represented several authors and negotiated publishing deals with several major publishers, including Random House and Doubleday.
  • 2019 recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Choice Honors.
  • Served as an opening night speaker at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
  • Member of the selection committee for the Sundance Film Festival for 22 years.


  • J.D., John Marshall Law School, summa cum laude
  • B.A./B.S., Ohio State University


  • State of Illinois Bar, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit