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Entertainment and Sports Law Law Firm Hiring

Players on the Move

A look at moves among attorneys, law firms, companies and other players in entertainment law.


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The Walt Disney Co. tapped Spotify legal chief Horacio Gutierrez to take over as the Burbank, CA-based entertainment and media giant’s general counsel, senior executive vice president and secretary. Disney’s announcement of Gutierrez’s hire ended months of speculation about who would succeed the company’s longtime legal boss, Alan Bravermanone of the highest-paid GCs in the country. Braverman revealed in July that he was retiring at the end of 2021. Gutierrez, who officially begins his new role on Feb. 1, reports to Disney CEO Bob Chapek. As Disney’s top lawyer, Gutierrez will oversee the company’s global legal affairs while serving as a strategic adviser to the executives and board of directors. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead Disney’s global legal organization, to work with Bob Chapek and his leadership team, and to contribute to one of the most admired and beloved companies in the world as it builds on its many strengths and transforms for the future,” Gutierrez stated in his hiring announcement. “It is a particular honor for me to succeed Alan Braverman, an iconic figure in the legal profession, who over the last two decades has built one of the largest and most admired legal departments in the world,” he added. Braverman consistently ranked among the top in-house earners in the country. But his sky-high pay fell back to Earth last year, when executives agreed to forgo bonuses and slash their salaries as Disney hemorrhaged money amid pandemic-related closures. Braverman’s cash compensation in 2020 totaled nearly $1.6 million, an 80% drop from his 2019 cash compensation of $8 million. Meanwhile, Gutierrez joined Spotify in 2016 as general counsel and vice president of business and legal affairs, and was elevated to head of global legal affairs and chief legal officer in 2019. Earlier this year, Gutierrez publicly blasted Apple Inc. for being a “ruthless bully that uses its dominance to hobble competitors.” Spotify general counsel Eve Konstan will continue leading Spotify’s legal affairs and fill Gutierrez’s role following his exit, according to a company spokesman. Before he arrived at Spotify, Gutierrez served as general counsel for Microsoft Corp., which he joined in 1998 as a corporate attorney overseeing the tech giant’s corporate and commercial legal matters in Latin America. Chapek described his new legal chief as an “incredibly skilled attorney and dynamic leader who comes to Disney with 35 years of legal experience in markets around the globe.” “Having spent more than two decades working for premier technology companies, he has an extensive understanding of the complex legal questions that come with technological disruption and rapid industry change,” Chapek said. The Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) has named Eric Harrington as its first general counsel — a role in which he will oversee collective bargaining for contracts covering all the players in the 28-team league. Harrington, who previously was senior counsel for the National Education Association (NEA), replaces Sherman Dunn partner Jon Newman, who handled those duties as the players’ union outside counsel. Newman has worked with the union since 2003 and will continue to do so. Harrington spent eight years at NEA, the country’s largest labor union. During that time, he specialized in policy reform and student debt relief for teachers and health care workers. He’s also served as an appellate attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a statement, MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said Harrington’s career-long commitment to labor issues made him a perfect fit. “I am extremely excited to welcome a worthy successor to Jon in Eric,” Foose said. “We look forward to his integration into our team as we continue to work to improve the lives of our players both current and future.” Harrington joins MLSPA at a pivotal moment for the union and pro soccer. In addition to fighting to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the league this year will see its largest ever free-agent class — 127 players. The union was responsible for bringing free agents to Major League Soccer through a 2015 deal. Back then, only 27 players were able to take advantage of the new rules. Class sizes remained restrained until the collective bargaining agreement reached in 2020, which loosened restrictions on player eligibility. Foose said Newman has been instrumental in bolstering players’ clout. “Through [Newman’s] efforts, the MLSPA has made monumental strides in progressing player rights forward,” Foose said. “Jon’s guidance has been critical in everything we have done over the past 18 years, and I am pleased that Jon and his firm will continue to serve as our outside labor. Steve Tsoneff recently announced he was leaving Los Angeles-based filmmaker Madison Wells Media, where he served as general counsel and head of business affairs, to rejoin Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Tsoneff will resume his role as entertainment transactional partner, which he left in 2017 after 17 years at the law firm. Tsoneff said his return to Gibson Dunn was based on the growth of the firm’s media, entertainment and technology practice since he departed five years ago. That growth is reflected, he said, in the number of partners added to the team, particularly on the transactional side, as well as the significance of the matters the team has been working on. Gibson “is the place where I grew up, it’s the first place where I practiced law coming out of law school,” Tsoneff said. “I felt like the combination of Gibson’s platform having grown, as well as my own experience and knowledge base as far the industry was concerned, made it a really interesting and exciting time to go back to a law firm.” … Kenneth M. Kaufman has joined Moses & Singer as senior counsel in its intellectual property, internet & technology and entertainment & media practices. He was previously senior counsel at Springut Law. Elliot Resnik has joined Masur Griffitts Avidor as partner and chair of the firm’s new entertainment group. He joins from Herbsman Hafer Weber & Frisch, where he was senior counsel.

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