Features

Fabienne Clermont – Warner Bros. Discovery 

Helping bring two legacy media companies together 

The April 2022 merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery was a landmark deal that created a portfolio of networks and content, including Discovery Channel, Warner Bros. Pictures, CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network and the “Batman” and “Harry Potter” franchises, as well as streaming services Discovery+ and HBO Max.  

Since the merger was completed, Fabienne Clermont, the global senior vice president for employment legal, has been working to integrate the companies and portfolio. 

“The last two years have been about creating alignment,” says Clermont. “My team and I are ensuring we have the proper policies in place because it does affect the company’s culture.” 

Doing so requires building relationships throughout the organization as she helps weigh risks to the business by supporting its employees. The goal is to ensure the company is moving forward together, she says.  

It’s a labor of love in ways for her, too, as Clermont, a first-generation Haitian immigrant, says she began practicing labor and employment law because she likes working with people and wanted to be in a space that had a tangible effect on them.  

“I enjoy helping ensure all of our employees understand who we are and what our brand is together,” Clermont says. “We’re working hard to ensure we’re taking our next steps under a unified vision.” 

Joining forces 

Hollywood is built on visions of glitz, glamour, and dreams. But within its dazzling lights and red carpets is a complex web of labor and employment issues.  

The entertainment industry has always been a dynamic and ever-evolving field filled with challenges and uncertainties. For Clermont, these challenges have become a familiar aspect of her career. With over 30 years of experience in employment law, including over two decades in-house, she has witnessed firsthand the complexities of navigating the industry’s intricacies. 

And there is nothing more complex than bringing together two of entertainment’s most renowned companies. When it comes to integration, that is a process still ongoing years after pens and paper closed the $43 billion merger.  

“In our industry, I don’t know if a company in this space is ever done integrating and moving forward after a deal, no matter how big or small,” Clermont says.  

Warner Bros. Discovery has about 38,000 employees globally across all divisions, and creating policies that align with the interests of all its entities is challenging and time-consuming. Luckily, Clermont has a dedicated and experienced team that helps her bring everything together and cross-department support from the human resources team.  

After any deal closes, Clermont and many others in leadership roles spend a lot of time considering getting the right people in the right roles, deciding what policies and procedures to take from the acquired company and figuring out ways to ensure people aren’t walking out the door. 

“There is fallout from a personnel perspective after any acquisition, but it isn’t always about reducing our workforce,” Clermont says.  

The employee experience 

After integration comes global harmonization, which involves reviewing how Discovery and WarnerMedia operated independently and how the two can best function as one company. That includes deciding on new guiding principles, ensuring those thoughts are embedded in the company’s leaders, and bringing people worldwide under one workplace cultural umbrella. 

“That is easy if you’re in one building, but we’ve got the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, CNN in Atlanta and legacy Discovery has a small office still in Maryland and other offices across the globe,” she says. “We have people worldwide coming together to see our vision.” 

 The company also has an employee engagement team that works on getting employee feedback through surveys and other ways to keep staffers involved in fostering the company culture, no matter what department they work for.  

“No matter what, we care for all our employees, whether you go way back with Warner Bros. or Discovery or you are new to us since we merged,” Clermont says.  

Discovering a career 

Clermont says she loved watching shows like Ally McBeal, which featured Calista Flockhart as the title character, an attorney in a prestigious Boston law firm. She says she thought all the women lawyers in the show looked good and had a good time as attorneys.  

During a summer in college at the University of Pennsylvania, Clermont worked for MetLife in the equal employment opportunity   department and realized that she wanted to work with people—she didn’t know if it was in law or human resources.  

After earning a law degree from the George Washington University Law School, Clermont worked for five years for Arent Fox before taking an in-house role with AOL. She spent six years and left as the company’s assistant general counsel—she joined Discovery in 2006 and rose to her current position in January 2021.  

“I tried criminal law in law school, but it wasn’t for me,” Clermont recalls. “And at Arent Fox, I always thought I’d become a partner. Then, the opportunity came at AOL, and I’ve never looked back.” 

As a New Yorker, Clermont says that her personality, confidence and ability to say what she thinks have served her well throughout her career. She has also been proud of the diversity in the legal department at Discovery and is excited to see the growth of a diverse legal team within Warner Bros. Discovery.  

“Our chief legal officer is a Black woman (Savalle Sims), and it is important and refreshing to look around the table and see others who look like me,” Clermont says. “Diversity is essential to the success of Warner Bros. Discovery.” 

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring III 2024 Edition here.

Published on: May 9, 2024

regions:

categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.

LATEST EDITION

Spring III 2024

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.