Less than a year after welcoming the 2019 Fellows to a blockbuster Learning Experience in New York City, ViacomCBS hosted fifty 2020 Fellows for the first-ever virtual LCLD Learning Experience via Zoom on October 6, 2020.

In her welcome remarks, LCLD Member Christa D’Alimonte, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of ViacomCBS, noted that because of the COVID pandemic, the 2019 Learning Experience now “feels like it was ten years ago.”

She then provided an overview of the global media company, with employees and businesses around the world, that the Fellows would be learning about that afternoon. 

ViacomCBS, she explained, is organized into four major business units: TV entertainment (CBS); cable networks (including MTV, Showtime, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon); filmed entertainment (Paramount Pictures); and publishing (Simon & Shuster).

“Our legal department is organized in a similar way,” she said, with a combination of subject matter experts who concentrate on specific business units and generalists who operate across the company. “One of the things that makes our team so special is the variety of backgrounds and experiences that we bring to the professional table.”

Last December, ViacomCBS hosted the 2019 Fellows for a day-long Learning Experience in New York City.

D’Alimonte then turned the program over to her colleagues, more than 20 ViacomCBS attorneys (including Fellows Alumni) who presented panel discussions on the business units she’d described:

  • Media Networks
  • Consumer Products, Filmed Entertainment, and Publishing
  • Television Production and Distribution

Each panel featured several attorneys from the business unit, who gave Fellows an understanding of how they operated within the global organization; several showed “sizzle” reels, videos that complemented their presentations. 

To provide an opportunity for Fellows to get to know the panelists, ViacomCBS attorneys hosted breakout rooms between sessions—building on the momentum of a Virtual Welcome Event ViacomCBS had hosted the evening before, which featured a virtual scavenger hunt through New York City, where ViacomCBS’s headquarters is located.

“ViacomCBS did such a great job showing the many different facets of the company’s legal department and the breadth of experiences that their attorneys receive,” said 2020 Fellow Asari Aniagolu of Lockheed Martin Corporation. “Not only that, but the diversity in their ranks shows that D&I is embedded in their culture.”

Destiny Washington of Ford Harrison was fascinated to learn about specific legal issues related to ViacomCBS’s entertainment and publishing businesses—“the various risk assessment investigations—background checks and health tests—conducted to host reality show talent” and the “defamation litigation that Simon & Schuster is currently handling with regard to the books written by former [Trump administration] political appointees.”

LCLD would like to thank Jodi Carmichael (2014 Fellow), Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Movies & Limited Series, Entertainment & Youth Division, and Ranfi Rivera (2016 Fellow), Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Nickelodeon, for the enormous amount of time and effort they put forth to organize this event.