The Best In-House Entertainment Attorneys of 2023: Disney, Netflix, More

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The 20 individuals profiled below are some of the most influential unsung heroes in entertainment. While they work mostly behind the scenes, the fruits of their labors have an immeasurable impact on the fortunes of their companies and often set precedents and examples for others.

From negotiating deals with talent, to forging partnerships with other enterprises, to strategizing with top management on potential M&A moves, to exercising vigilance over legal threats, in-house attorneys and business affairs executives can be the grown-ups in the room, carefully guiding their companies to success. When not interacting with the outside world and coordinating with outside law firms, they play an important role in setting internal policy in areas ranging from best practices to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

This year, naturally, many wanted to comment on artificial intelligence, considering it both a threat and an opportunity. Jeffrey Harleston, general counsel and exec VP, business and legal affairs, for Universal Music Group, even traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and called for actions to protect creator rights. “AI in the service of artists and creativity is a wonderful thing,” Harleston told the senators. “But AI that… appropriates their work… image, likeness or voice is not.”

In putting this list together, one key fact stood out: Over the past few years, a large number of women and people of color have reached the highest ranks of the industry’s legal and business affairs community. Despite some recent highly visible setbacks, this bolsters the belief that entertainment offers higher-than-average opportunities for corporate mobility. Whatever the cause, there’s reason for hope that a fully level playing field will ultimately emerge.

For editorial questions, please contact Peter Caranicas at [email protected] and Sharareh Drury at [email protected]

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