Tell us about your background
and your law department.
My undergraduate degree is in Japanese
language literature and cultural studies from
the University of California Santa Barbara. I
got my law degree at Washington University
in St. Louis — where I got most of the way
through a joint master’s in East Asian studies
before dropping it in my final year. At work, I
am responsible for managing all facets of SAG-AFTRA’s third party contracts and intellectual
property protection. I also have responsibilities
relating to data security, privacy, and a range
of other efforts aimed at protecting the rights
of SAG-AFTRA and its members, including
heading up SAG-AFTRA’s amicus program.
Away from work, I recently decided to return
to school to pursue an LLM with a focus on
IP and technology through the University of
Edinburgh. I also enjoy playing ice hockey on
SAG-AFTRA is the nation’s largest labor
union, representing working media artists
with a membership comprised of over 160,000
actors, announcers, journalists, television and
radio personalities, recording artists, singers,
dancers, stunt performers, and many more.
What interested you in the in-house
practice and how did you come to
be an attorney at SAG-AFTRA?
I knew when I decided to go to law school that
my career path would lead me in-house, and
likely in the entertainment business (I grew up
around the industry). I think the in-house practice is better suited for my personality, which
tends to be more introverted and analytical. I
started working as a business representative in
the residuals department of the former Screen
Actors Guild in 2000. An opportunity presented itself a year later, and I moved up into the
legal department — where I initially pursued
labor grievances. I would later take on a more
specialized role as the union’s first corporate
transactional attorney, which was a position
created specifically for me.
What is the single greatest challenge
that your law department is facing today,
and how are you dealing with it?
As a labor union, SAG-AFTRA is fairly unique
and my job is unique within SAG-AFTRA.
In addition to managing grievances on behalf
of our members, our lawyers participate in
collective bargaining activities, advise internal
departments and member committees on our
collective bargaining agreements, handle litigation and NLRB matters, and assist our government affairs and public policy team, among
other responsibilities. I am the only lawyer in
the department who primarily handles corporate transactional work. My biggest challenge
is managing our normal contract workflow
and ensuring compliance with our policies,
while also trying to manage other aspects of
my practice. We recently engaged a contract
management vendor and built an internal tool
that should streamline some of the contract
management process, and I am working on
some policy documents and cheat sheets to better assist my internal clients.
In October 2016, you were elected as chair of
the Sports & Entertainment Law Committee.
How did you initially get involved?
I have been very actively involved with the
ACC Southern California Chapter for as long as
I have been an ACC member. I originally joined
ACC at the suggestion of my general counsel,
who has encouraged and supported of my
involvement. David Cohen, the immediate past
chair of the committee, is the one who encour-aged me to get more involved with the committee leadership.
What are some of the ways that the
Sports & Entertainment Committee
provides value to its members?
Member service is one of my primary goals, so
we are constantly trying to find new ways to
serve our members. In addition to our monthly
committee calls and legal quick hits, this year we
launched a committee newsletter and a series of
Sports & Entertainment Law
Danielle Van Lier
INTELLECTUAL PROPERT Y &
72 ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNSEL