GEMALaw Symposium Brings Hollywood to Georgetown


The Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance’s Law chapter, known as GEMALaw, held its annual symposium on February 3rd, marking the organization’s its tenth anniversary.  The symposium brought dozens of prominent media law practicioners to Hart Auditorium, including GEMA’s founders, and attracted an estimated 200 attendees, ranging from Georgetown students to practioners to content creators, to its four panels spread over six hours.

Before the festivities began, Dean William Treanor introduced GEMALaw and recounted its importance and impact on the law school.  In particular, he noted the dramatic expansion of entertainment and media-related course offerings at the Law Center.

The day formally began with an hour-long panel hosted by four of GEMALaw’s founders, Claire Magee (L’09), Raquel Braun (L’10), Daniel Werly (L’09), and Daniel Navarro (L’09).  All except Magee, coincidentally, have ended up working in-house, and three of the four in the world of sports. All four readily agreed that Braun was the impetus for the creation of GEMA’s law chapter.

Disappoionted with the entertainment, media and sports law career building opportunities at Georgetown Law, Braun took it upon herself to gather friends and colleagues to expand the existing GEMA to the Law Center.  The four also discussed their paths to their jobs, how they got their foot in the door, and the qualities that students should emphasize as they apply for entertainemnt-sector legal jobs.

The second panel, entitled “The Dealmakers,” featured a number of prominent negotiators across various sectors.  Jeffrey Schneider, Executive VP at National Georgraphic Partners and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, moderated a discussion on the nature of dealmaking, different strategies, and their paths to the entertainment world.  Chris Floyd, COO at Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, Rebecca Sanheuza, Senior VP at IMG, Lisa Williams Fauntroy (L’94), Senior VP at Discovery Communications, and Claudine Wilson (L’08), Senior Counsel for Legal & Buisness Affairs at HBO all agreed that the aggressive, shouting model of negotiation was not effective.

The panelists, who work in a variety of subsectors of the entertainment world, all had engaging anecdotes to share.  Sanhueza, in particular, shared a behind -the-scenes account of the infamous Steve Harvey blunder at Miss Universe 2015 and its fallout.

Before lunch, GEMALaw Co-Presidents Annick Banoun and Marissa Moshell presented Darrell Miller (L’90), who currently serves as Chair of the Entertainment Department at Fox Rothschild, with the Alumni Achievement Award.  Miller gave a rousing speech, opening it with an earthshattering opera performance, fondly recalling his days at Georgetown’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society.  He then told his story, a journey from an entertainer to a lawyer, and passed on his four keys to success.- remembering your blessings, working hard, thinking differently and embracing change.


After a networking lunch, the “Innovators” panel brought together a number of lawyers.  The panel, moderated by Evelyn Miller, VP of Legal Affaairs at Natiaonal Geographic Partners, held a discussion covering privacy issues (and how they differed between domestic and interntional contexts) and the intersection of regulatory and buisness issues.

Other panelists included Greg Brehm (L’91), Assistant General Counsel at BuzzFeed, Jim Lucchese (L’05), Global Head of Creator at Spotify, Rob Seiden (L’13), Senior Manager of Buisness Affairs at Vevo, and Emily Sharpe (L’13), Privacy and Public Policy Manager at Facebook.

An all-star panel of sports lawyers with expertise as counsel for top brands closed out the symposioum.  They talked about how they got to their current positions; each having a different story. The panelists touched on what a typical day’s work entails — and the answer is that it varies tremendously, depending on exigencies of the day or the needs of different stakeholders- from owners, to customers, to athletes. In addition, the panelist stressed the needs of not only being a resource for others involved in the organization, but being self-sufficient, because outsourcing work  to outside firms is expensive and done sparingly.

Two of the four panelists shared an interesting dynamic: general counsel for AEG John Keenan (L’95) and Nicole Fricke (C’95) who acts as first general counsel for the LA Clippers. AEG (which manages many venues) has part ownership interest in the Clippers and thus has an interest in it’s success. The more successful the Clippers are, the more people in the arena. This unique working relationship emerging from the connection between their companies–made for engaging dialogue between Fricke and Keenan. “The panel was informative and the panelists offered good insights into what it means to be an attorney in the sports industry,” said Cyril Djoukeng, associate at DC-based Covington and Burling.

The full recording of the 10th Annual GEMALaw Symposium can be watched here.


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