Legal Clerkship at Disney

Discussion in 'The College Board' started by stitchloversith, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. stitchloversith

    stitchloversith Earning My Ears

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    I am starting law school in Fall 2019 and was wondering if anyone had done a gap summer internship with the legal department. I am a 2006 College Program alumni and most of the professional internships I have applied for turned me down because I did the year long program. Any information would be great. I saw that for this past summer Universal was looking for people but would love to go back to the Mouse if I can.
     
  2. minnieralyks

    minnieralyks Mysteries & Magic, Visions Fantastic

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    How awesome! I'm also interested in this question.
     
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  4. LLG

    LLG Earning My Ears

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "legal department" so I want to give you some background. In general, there are going to be three legal parts -- each very large -- to Disney (defined below*): (1) litigation, (2) corporate and transactional, and (3) general counsel. As the term "general" implies, general counsel oversees everything as does its office (hence, in the government why you have an Attorney General and Solicitor General).

    Alan Braverman (link) is general counsel of The Walt Disney Company (appointed in January 2003) Braverman serves as the chief legal officer of the company and oversees its team of attorneys responsible for all aspects of Disney's legal affairs around the world. Here is an article on him from Super Lawyers (link).

    Braverman works out of in Disney's Burbank Office, although I imagine he could probably work anywhere in the world he wants. As Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, it is reported that he made $8,391,100 in total compensation last year.

    I have no idea how large Disney's in-house counsel is (the staff that Braverman and people who work for him overseas), but it must be very large. As the Super Lawyers article states: "At an iconic company like Disney, every legal matter has the potential to be a giant news story, which, in turn, makes Disney an appealing company to sue. Over the years, Disney has been sued by a Pennsylvania woman who claimed she was groped by a Donald Duck; by a man who said he was stranded on the “it’s a small world” ride for 40 minutes; by a man who claimed a breach of contract for his contestant appearance on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, claiming that the $16,000 question—which he responded to incorrectly—was not “an absolute question with a singularly correct answer”; and by a woman who claimed her script was used to develop Desperate Housewives, citing, in part, the similarity between both works including the similar use of the word “fun” and that they both contained a red car.

    Braverman gets a report on every suit, and pays personal attention to any case with a significant financial, reputational or principle risk, such as one that might set new parameters on intellectual property protection. Much of his attention, though, is focused on even more strategic matters in the rapidly evolving entertainment and media landscape," according to the Super Lawyer article."

    For most litigation, Disney uses outside counsel. That is, Disney hires a law firm to handle it. For example, Disney hired Louis Ederer (link) of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (NYC) to handle a big trademark and copyright lawsuit (link to opinion). When Disney sued VidAngel, Disney hired Kelly Klaus (link) of Munger Tolles and Olson LLP. Of course, they didn't just hire one person at those firms but a team of attorneys. Disney appears to hire the top attorneys at the top firms when it comes to intellectual property (I'm hitting top 20 firms in the world when I search for who they hire on the court's dockets). They probably hire more local, but still great firms, for personal injury at a theme park for example.

    My guess is that Disney handles transactional items in-house. Here is a link to legal internship at Disney Careers (link). And here is another (not JD associated) (link). The later is a Contract Administration Intern, Studio – Fall 2018. They must have one of those positions a lot. They are in Burbank, California.

    Note: Disney's "legal department" is going to be split into a number of places. For example, there is a business and legal affairs department at Disney Theatrical Group, the business unit of the Walt Disney Company responsible for the company’s Broadway, domestic and international live stage play business. Disney Theatrical’s business includes 9 worldwide companies of “The Lion King,” Aladdin which opened in 2014, and musicals in development including shows based on Frozen and The Princess Bride. They are located in New York.

    You could also be part of the legal department at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort or help with Workers Compensation in Kissimmee, Florida or how about working at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. They may well have legal internships there.

    So, if it were me, and I don't care where I live, here is what I do: Focus on Burbank, California, in general. Also figure out what areas of Disney you most want to focus on. Sports (ESPN) is different than theater. Get a top three. Read the descriptions of the jobs at https://jobs.disneycareers.com/ and take them seriously.

    Go on Linkedin and try to find people who have jobs that are similar to the ones you want. Email them politely and ask for 5-10 minutes of their time to ask what you should do to make yourself more appealing to Disney. Ask them about the general structure. Do *not* ask them to help you get a job, and do *not* ask them to tell you what to do with your life or where you should work. You should know that and you should have reasons why. If you don't, then think about that first. It's really hard for people to help if you have no idea of what you want to do other than work for "Disney." Some people will help (some won't) but they need to know what you want to do.

    Some other general advice: if you don't know how to value a company or a stock or a business transaction, learn to do so. Learn how to read a SEC Form 10-k and 10-q and the other forms. Coursera has an excellent course (link) that covers accounting, which is the main aspect of those forms you'll want to be able to understand.

    Disney is a publicly traded company and in is in the middle of a lot of mergers and acquisitions, not to mention trying to constantly decide whether to invest resources somewhere else (e.g., a new theme park, a new hotel, a new project). If you aren't proficient in Excel, learn it in the context of valuation (it doesn't take long). Learn Discount Cash Flow Analysis and other ways of valuing investment ideas. Unless you want to be a litigator (which really removes you from Disney and puts you in court arguing over procedure and case law), you want to be thinking about transactions including investments. The more you know about this, and the more you can talk the language of finance they talk, the more people will appreciate you.

    Note this quote "Much of his [general counsel's] attention, though, is focused on even more strategic matters in the rapidly evolving entertainment and media landscape." That doesn't just mean what is the next big idea, but what are the numbers behind the next big idea. If you want to get a start on financial modeling, check out: https://www.asimplemodel.com/ or http://macabacus.com/learn

    Write back below if you want more help on resources for this.

    *Disney has a large number of assets, each of which may be set up as a separate company that Disney owns. See here for a list (link).
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  5. LLG

    LLG Earning My Ears

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    I replied above. I'm not sure how DisBoards works so I thought I'd ping this way too.
     
  6. bananabean

    bananabean DIS Veteran

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    I would like to join this class action.
     
  7. LLG

    LLG Earning My Ears

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    Turns out it wasn't a class action (Link to article). The damages were predicated on the fact that he was disabled and couldn't get out.

    An attorney says a disabled man was awarded $8,000 by Disneyland after the "It's A Small World" ride broke down, stranding him for a half hour while the theme song played continuously.

    Lawyer David Geffen says Jose Martinez didn't medically stabilize for three hours after the ride broke down in 2009.

    Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said the Anaheim theme park believes it provided appropriate assistance during the incident, and is disappointed that the court did not fully agree.

    Geffen says Martinez uses a wheelchair, suffers from panic attacks and high blood pressure, which was aggravated by a need to urinate.

    Geffen says half the award ordered Friday is for pain and suffering, and the rest is for a violation of disability law. Brown says the violations have been addressed.
     
  8. stitchloversith

    stitchloversith Earning My Ears

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    Thank you for these hints. If I could live anywhere and afford it I would definatly look into the California offerings but I need to stay on the east coast. But I will take what you have posted into account when looking.
     
  9. bananabean

    bananabean DIS Veteran

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    I was just making a joke because I’ve been stuck on Small World 3 times for over 30 minutes each time. Needless to say, I don’t ride it anymore!
     

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