Derek C. Dessler
Adjunct Professor of Law
Derek Dessler is an attorney in private practice in New York City. His law practice focuses on media, entertainment, new technology, intellectual property, and corporate law matters.
Dessler is an accomplished and versatile dealmaker with expertise in the entertainment and media industries. In his law practice Dessler uses his in-depth institutional knowledge of entertainment and media companies in counseling established companies and start-ups on transactional, operational, corporate, and legal matters; structuring and operating joint ventures and strategic partnerships; reviewing investment opportunities as part of corporate development initiatives; and negotiating and structuring high-value complex transactions, including acquisitions, mergers, and divestitures.
Dessler also serves as outside general counsel to various entertainment, media, and new technology companies, advising these clients on matters including day-to-day operations and corporate governance; early- and later-stage financing; cross-border transactions; producing and exploiting content; developing and implementing strategic initiatives; and intellectual property matters.
Before founding his law practice, Dessler was for 14 years a legal and business affairs executive with the Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest music company. At UMG, Dessler held various executive positions, including: Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs for Universal Music Group’s global corporate unit, where Dessler counseled and worked directly with Universal’s senior executives on domestic and international matters; General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs for UMG’s start-up multi-platform music video television channel (branded “IMF: The International Music Feed”), where Dessler was responsible for all domestic and foreign legal, business affairs, transactional, regulatory, and corporate matters; and Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs for UMG’s Universal Motown Records Group, where Dessler counseled the unit’s senior executives on legal, business affairs, and transactional matters and where he was responsible for negotiating and drafting various agreements for the label group, including exclusive recording agreements, joint ventures, new technology agreements, license agreements, and distribution agreements.
Dessler earned his A.B. from Columbia University (New York City) and his J.D. from Fordham University (New York City), where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awarded Dessler the National First Prize in the Nathan Burkan Memorial Competition, a legal writing competition for papers on the subject of copyright law. He also is the author of the article “China’s Intellectual Property Protection: Prospects for Achieving International Standards,” published in the Fordham International Law Journal (Volume 19, 1995)
In 2011 Dessler was a guest lecturer at the China Intellectual Property Training Agency in Beijing, China, on the topic "U.S. Copyright Law and the Music Industry in the Digital Age: An Introduction to Distributing and Selling Music in the United States Using New Technologies," and in 2013 he served as a panelist at the Winter Music Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, on two panels: “The Down-Low on the Download: Digital Distribution” and "Artists, Agents & Managers."