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Assistant Chief Counsel, Lead – Searchlight Pictures

Apply NowApply Later Job ID 917004BR Location Burbank, California, United States Business The Walt Disney Studios Date posted Mar. 06, 2022

Job Summary:

The Assistant Chief Counsel – Searchlight Pictures leads The Walt Disney Studios Production Legal Affairs team that drafts and negotiates motion picture contracts, provides legal analysis and advice, and serves as production counsel to Searchlight Pictures feature film development and production for theatrical and streaming content, and other original content in support of various studio initiatives.
In addition to leading the team, the Assistant Chief Counsel serves as senior legal adviser and is expected to provide guidance and direction reflecting sound judgment, strategic vision and substantive legal knowledge and expertise in matters relating to motion picture development and production; including rights research and analysis, drafting and negotiating rights agreements and other above-the-line talent agreements, and advising on legal matters arising in the context of feature film production. This position will be directly involved in managing significant, complex and/or policy setting matters including drafting and negotiating film acquisition agreements, delivery schedules, co-production and co-financing agreements and related secured transaction documents. You will be directly involved in developing forms, policies and procedures to create proactive strategies to minimize risk and increase efficiencies; serving as a resource to other attorneys in the department on a regular basis as questions and issues arise and training more junior attorneys. The Assistant Chief Counsel position will be working closely with other attorneys within the studio and the corporate legal department, as well as providing counsel to senior studio leadership and others in handling these matters.


  • Lead the Searchlight Production Legal Affairs team, overseeing the team of attorneys that provide production counsel to feature film development and production for theatrical and streaming content, as well as, other original content, co-productions and acquisitions.
  • Provide legal analysis relating to status of rights, copyright and other chain-of-title review; draft and negotiate rights acquisition agreements for literary rights and other third party intellectual property; prepare consulting agreements and releases from individuals for films based on true stories; draft and negotiate other rights agreements such as quitclaims and assignments.
  • Draft and negotiate agreements relating to third party acquisitions, co-productions, co-financing and/or distribution agreements including inter-creditor agreements, copyright mortgages and other security agreements.
  • Draft and negotiate agreements for directors, producers, writers, above-the-line cast and other production personnel.
  • Provide counsel on various matters relating to production of feature films, including but not limited to: production legal matters and agreements, script/film clearances, labor relations/collective bargaining agreements, engagement of minors, immigration, customs, environmental regulations, review titles and credits
  • Provide advice and assistance relating to talent agreements and production matters impacting marketing, promotions, publicity, distribution and ancillary rights exploitation.
  • Draft and negotiate Production/Financing/Distribution Agreements, Production Services Agreements, Lending and Assignment agreements and related corporate set-up documents; collaborate with tax and finance regarding best corporate structure for individual pictures (domestic and international) and production incentive regulations and agreements.
  • Draft and negotiate confidentiality agreements, submission releases, and non-disclosure agreements.

Basic Qualifications:

  • 12 – 15+ years of significant legal experience with a minimum of 10 years in the entertainment industry, preferably with a mix of law firm and in-house experience.
  • Superior drafting, negotiation, communication and organizational skills.
  • Significant experience drafting and negotiating film acquisitions, co-productions, co-financing, and distribution agreements, and related security documents.
  • Significant development and production counsel experience related to live-action motion pictures.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with the ability to work well in a team environment and act as a resource to colleagues with less experience. Ability to build interdepartmental relationships at all levels and drive consensus on legal matters among multiple stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically, to devise practical solutions and to present complex issues to senior executives. Ability to evaluate and reconcile issues from the business-unit and enterprise level perspective.
  • Has breadth of knowledge about the motion picture industry and legal issues and has functioned as a strategic partner for business affairs and new business initiatives.
  • Extensive leadership and training experience to help develop and motivate a highly experienced team of lawyers, paralegals, assistants and staff.
  • Exceptional organizational, prioritization and time management skills with the ability to work under deadlines and execute efficiently against multiple, high-priority and high volume projects. Demonstrates a clear ability to manage fast paced production environment.
  • Demonstrated capacity to keep current on emerging business and legal trends in motion picture and television industry.
  • A collegial and collaborative lawyer who brings a commitment to the creation of a positive working environment within the legal organization.
  • An excellent work ethic and commitment to professionalism.
  • Ability to work in an environment with a high degree of confidentiality.

Required Education

  • Law degree from an accredited law school required
  • Membership in the California State Bar Association (or willingness and qualification to be registered In-House Counsel) required

Additional Information:

#CORP_MEDIA and #legalaffairs

About The Walt Disney Studios:

For over 95 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today it brings quality movies, episodic storytelling, music, and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. The Walt Disney Studios encompasses a collection of respected film studios, including Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, and Searchlight Pictures. It is also home to Disney Theatrical Productions, producer of world-class stage shows.

About The Walt Disney Company:

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with the following business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to its preeminent name in the entertainment industry today, Disney proudly continues its legacy of creating world-class stories and experiences for every member of the family. Disney’s stories, characters and experiences reach consumers and guests from every corner of the globe. With operations in more than 40 countries, our employees and cast members work together to create entertainment experiences that are both universally and locally cherished.

This position is with Walt Disney Pictures, which is part of a business we call The Walt Disney Studios.

Walt Disney Pictures is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status. Disney fosters a business culture where ideas and decisions from all people help us grow, innovate, create the best stories and be relevant in a rapidly changing world.

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