Alumni Spotlight: Daniella Jones (2014-2017; New York)
August 9, 2022
Cleary Gottlieb alumni often reflect upon their time at the firm with fondness and gratitude.
Daniella Jones (2014-2017; New York), Senior Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs at Peloton Interactive, shares some of her thoughts below.
When were you at Cleary and what group were you in?
I was at Cleary from 2014-2017. I started by splitting between Private Funds and the Real Estate Group but made Real Estate my home. I liked the people and it dealt with tangible property so it was the easiest thing to explain to my mom – this seemed beneficial at the time.
Tell us about your path from Cleary to where you are now. What do you appreciate most about each of these experiences?
I was about to turn 30 and started reflecting on my career. Until that point I had had a clear path from college, SEO, law school, etc... I took a step back and realized real estate finance wasn’t my passion and focused on what I enjoyed in my personal time. I always liked entertainment and pop culture. I was a communications major at Penn and did sports marketing in college. I also interned at NBC news during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I always liked media, so I thought about how I could mix that interest with my legal expertise.
I was strategic when I was looking for roles, either in entertainment or the wellness space. I wanted my next phase to be in alignment with these interests. I went to Endeavor which is an entertainment conglomerate. I worked with the creative agency who represents lots of brands and focused on experiential activation, public relations, and influencer campaigns. We would pitch to their clients and act on it. I did everything from talent agreements to advising creatives. One story that comes to mind was a team that wanted to do an open air activation in San Francisco but it was during the forest fires. You have to give advice on “how to do something” without just saying no. I got broad entertainment generalist experience and stayed until mid-2020. When the pandemic hit, we could not do those experiences anymore, so I had to pivot and see what else I could do. I saw the Peloton opportunity and had got the bike during the pandemic. I was getting into the content, taking rides (even got my grandmother into it), and realized this combined both of my interests in entertainment and wellness. It felt like this timing was all in alignment. I came to Peloton as their second entertainment lawyer which covered media, marketing, and content production. We’ve grown to now be a team focused on talent relations, content and production. I am excited to be here at this time of hyper growth and a spotlight on our industry. It makes so much sense looking back now, but when I was thinking about leaving Cleary I didn’t even realize this type of position could exist and that I would be able to combine all of my passions in one.
What do you enjoy most about your current job?
I enjoy that day to day my work contributes to helping people become the best iteration of themselves. The rides make me feel good, and we help provide that satisfaction to all of our customers. I also like that our company is so forward thinking and on the pulse of popular culture. I get to work on really cool deals and participate in programs that I would choose to do on my own time – Beyoncé artist series classes for example.
Peloton is known for its timely ads and ability to capitalize on cultural moments. How do you partner with the business and marketing teams to move fast while being thorough?
It requires solid communication skills and a strong established rapport with your team. Our creative team and our marketers are very receptive to input so they are a great team to work with. To move this quickly requires instant collaboration and constant flexibility, knowledge of what issues are material and what issues you can live with. Firms groom you to get every issue in the weeds, but in house and working with business in real time, you have to assess risk and know what issues are the most operative and what will help get this done to allow you to move forward.
Did your Cleary training help you at all during this time?
Cleary gave me the ability to work at the intensity required for something like this, and a baseline for fundamental understanding of the cadence of a deal, how to communicate when there is high stress, and the experience to be even keeled throughout the process. I got great drafting and transactional experience at Cleary as well as the interpersonal skills. Cleary taught me to get the sense of what’s important, remain cool under fire and work with a wide array of audiences – knowing how much detail you need to share with which party and how best to share it is a huge advantage.
Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Cleary?
I did a Game of Thrones themed CLE with Dana Lee and Sonya Lee for the real estate group. It took real estate finance and popular culture and made it a memorable experience.
I also helped coordinate a meditation session for the Black Affinity Group and it was the first time I have seen a bunch of lawyers (partners included) at a table with their phones turned over and their eyes closed to really check in with themselves. It was such a nice connective experience. This was while I was calibrating my career and focusing on these issues myself, but I thought: While I’m here, what can I do to grow where I’m planted? If this is helping me, I want to help the group and the firm. And I’m happy the firm and the partners supported that.
What advice do you have for a young Cleary associate who may want to pursue a similar career path?
The first step is asking yourself “What do you like to do?” and empower yourself to take ownership of your career. Do some self-reflection. Once you determine what you want, you can get the experience you need to help you get there. The Cleary network and its people are amazing. I’m still friends with the people I worked with. You get to build these connections that stay with you. And you get to work with people all over the world. So many opportunities – 10-12 years down the line you know so many people at these amazing companies and you all have this shared experience. We still talk to each other – and use each other as a resource. When I was thinking about what to do next I spoke with the alumni team and said “here’s what I think I want, but it’s premature. Can we bounce ideas around?” They put me in touch with alums who are doing what I was interested in and I was able to have those conversations to figure out what I wanted and plan my next steps.
Is there something I haven’t asked you about that you want to share with our Cleary community?
While you are practicing at the firm, you should keep track of what you are working on; not just for your resume, but for you to see what you have accomplished and give you something to review. You can do a post-mortem after each project and ask yourself what you liked, what you didn’t, and what might be missing – to make sure you learn as much as possible while at the firm before you depart.
I also suggest you practice interviewing in advance of when you are searching in earnest for your next role. The last time many people interviewed was OCI, so go out and meet people and practice discussing your substantive work. Recognize that it is a process. The first or second may not work out, but these conversations can help you calibrate what the right conversations and position should be. And it hits when it’s supposed to. You can also add to your LinkedIn profile if you want an easy place to track your public deals. You can post an article linked to the deal so it is an ongoing record of your work.
Learn more about Cleary’s global alumni network here.