Interview: Working in Tech Law with Jacqueline Spagnola

Written by Sallie Oliver, Guest Contributor

Jacqueline Spagnola is an intellectual property attorney with Cantor Fitzgerald. Spagnola has worked with DreamWorks, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, Paramount Pictures, and CHANEL. Additionally, she has collaborated with Jonathan Askins at the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic. Guest contributor Sallie Oliver sat down for a conversation with Spagnola to get her thoughts on practicing in a field that blends technology and law.

Sallie Oliver (SO): What was it like for you when beginning to dive into “tech law” when you have many careers paths available? Why this field at this time?

Jacqueline Spagnola (JS): I believe that we are currently in the age of technology, which made technology law a very obvious career path to choose. Initially, I was enthralled with intellectual property law and the defending of intangible goods of such great value. Every single day new technology is being introduced into the world, which will directly affect the previous treatment of IP rights, and the need for new laws to continue to protect such rights excites me.

New technology in relation to data transfers on an international scale is also a very exciting issue [that] I have greatly focused on in my early career and has been a main reason why I chose to pursue an international career. I also feel that there is limitless possibility to make a career for yourself in this field since it is a very pressing and current issue. There is less disadvantage of being a junior attorney in a field that is still constantly developing since there are no “masters” or seasoned “experts.”

SO: Do you think emerging lawyers should be learning [programming languages like] Java in order to better communicate with this Digital Information or to edit smart contracts?

JS: I believe it would certainly give an advantage to technology attorneys since there is often a disconnect between attorneys and programmers/IT professionals when properly wording a contract to include the desired terms. Java is [a programming] language, which is translated to attorneys who then attempt to translate that conversation into the legal language. Here is the risk of misinterpretation and loopholes in contracts where precision in drafting is paramount.

SO: How can someone interested in tech+law work smarter to keep up with current trends?

JS: I try to stay abreast of new legal trends by following the sources themselves. I am constantly following new technology blogs and inventions and forming my own opinion and reading other influential opinions on the potential legal implications.

I also follow certain groups on interest on LinkedIn and read up on the articles [that]interest me. The absolute best way to keep up with current trends, however, is to engage in conversation as often as possible and listen to pressing issues from other professionals at Legal Meetups.

Breaking into Art Law: Advice from Attorneys at Christie’s Auction House

Written by Sallie Oliver, Guest Contributor

Art law is a choice for mindsets with creative solutions on an international scale. What does art law tackle? Students met with the legal in-house counsel for Christie’s Auction House on Friday, February 26th, regarding the state of the practice of art law and how budding attorneys may break into this growing field successfully.

Meeting Room at Christie's
A meeting room at Christie’s Auction House New York.

 

The workspace at Christie’s is beautiful. Picture a boardroom overlooking Rockefeller Plaza and a box of cookies sliding across the table, a scene that may remind one of a Vegas croupier dealing precious cards. While offering sweets, Senior Vice President and General Counsel Jason Pollack shared notable advice, “Find success where you are no matter where that is.”

Pollack joined Christie’s nine months ago, and with a smile, admitted his real passion was in becoming NFL Commissioner. The cross-disciplinary study habits for an aspiring art lawyer prove beneficiary when you are engaging in daily transactions with all different sorts of personalities.

Showroom at Christie's
A recently renovated showroom at Christie’s Auction House New York.

 

Counsel member Sandy Compton highly recommends clerking, and being flexible with a range of interests, as she did herself. Few museums besides those in large cities have in-house legal counsel and will instead visit boutique law firms regarding contract mediation. Not surprisingly, the New York City Auction Regulations, which are in use today, Compton stated, “were created in the 1800s and, believe it or not, horse and buggy,” are still part of its language.

Regulatory contracts are typically tolerated long after relevancy comes into question and it is no different regarding art law. Therefore, art law has different challenges. An example includes leveraging litigation to ensure a $170,000,000 sculpture does not present too much liability for Christie’s Auction House or art collectors themselves. Also, acting on behalf of art collectors to ensure that stolen art stays off of the market by partnering with international policy makers.

While buying art is still largely unregulated, art law provides a degree of risk management that creates powerful investment opportunities.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article appeared on the author’s website: http://sallieoliver.me/.

Writer’s note: Thank you to Sali Salfiti, scholar at Brooklyn Law, for reaching out to Christie’s for this event. And please note that local and international internship listings can be found via Christie’s.com.