John Schulman to retire from Warner Bros.

Joined studio in 1984 as vp and general counsel

After a quarter-century at Warner Bros., John Schulman, the straight-talking, no-nonsense general counsel for the studio, will retire at year's end.

Although his retirement was not unexpected, Schulman called his decision to step down "arduous."

He joined the studio in 1984 as vp and general counsel, charged with building and running the studio's in-house legal department. Since then, he has been senior vp and general counsel and since 1991 executive vp and general counsel.

"Many years ago, I was given the task of creating, staffing and building what has turned out to be what I believe is the best legal department in our industry and, dare I say, one of the best in any industry," Schulman said. "I am honored to have been a part of this company at a time of rapid change and challenge, but I am truly ready to begin the next chapter and look forward to the new adventures that lie ahead."

Before joining Warners, Schulman started a working relationship with the studio as outside counsel at the law firm Kaplan Livingston Goodwin Berkowitz and Selvin. Among his first assignments was to rep in litigation and negotiations the "Superman" franchise and movies. He was a founding partner in the entertainment firm Weissman Wolff, where he continued as outside counsel to Warners.

Schulman has been a vigorous defender of Warners, overseeing the litigation in the recent victory for "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and the studio against publishing company RDR Books, which had planned to publish an unofficial encyclopedia related to the multimillion-dollar book and film series.

"There are very few people who become forces in our industry. John Schulman is one of them," Warners chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said. "There are also few executives in our industry with a heart as big as John's. He's a terrific lawyer, strong advocate, a dedicated and general philanthropist and a great friend."

Schulman has not indicated what he plans to do next. The studio is expected to announce his replacement in the next few days.