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Callif, Lisa

Lisa A. Callif

Entertainment Lawyer, Donaldson + Callif, LLP

As a Founding Partner of Donaldson + Callif, Lisa Callif is the go-to attorney for all things clearance. With extensive experience in clearance, fair use and copyright issues, she is a leader in overcoming legal hurdles, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards – among her many accolades are recognition as a Hollywood Reporter Power Lawyer and a Daily Journal Top Entertainment Lawyer, as well as her ranking by Variety on the Dealmakers Impact Report and the Best and the Brightest list. Lisa’s practice focuses on representing independent filmmakers in all aspects of their moviemaking, including financing, production and distribution. She cuts through red tape for her clients, enabling films to be made and distributed, and works tirelessly to preserve artists’ voices so that they can shine a light on stories that otherwise might not be told.

In addition to representing filmmakers, Lisa serves as counsel to multiple non-profit organizations, including Film Independent, which produces the LA Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards, and Women in Film, whose mission is to promote gender parity in all aspects of media. Lisa is also one of the few attorneys in Los Angeles to represent live theaters—she represents the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper, the Geffen Playhouse and other Los Angeles-based theater companies.

Along with Partner Michael Donaldson, Lisa has co-written two books: The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking and Clearance and Copyright4th Edition. She regularly publishes articles about emerging issues in entertainment and copyright law, and is often quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Variety, Intellectual Property Magazine and more. Lisa and Michael were featured on the cover of LA Lawyer Magazine, for which they co-authored an article about fair use and its application in documentary films.

Lisa graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a BS in communications, and worked in the music industry in New York and Los Angeles before obtaining her JD from Southwestern University School of Law. She previously served as an adjunct professor at Southwestern, and is a frequent speaker at Film Independent, American Pavilion, the International Documentary Association and UCLA, where she also teaches legal basics at the UCLA Summer Producer’s Workshop.

Lisa lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Dustin, and her two children, Diggy and Liam.

Notable Projects

  • Making a Murderer (2016 Emmy winner)
  • Weiner(2016 Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary, Sundance)
  • He Named Me Malala (2015 Academy Award shortlist)
  • 20 Feet From Stardom(2014 Academy Award and Film Independent Spirit Award winner)
  • Boyhood (2014 Academy Award and Golden Globe Awards winner)
  • Invisible War(2012 Film Independent Spirit Award Winner and Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary, Sundance),
  • Inside Job(2011 Academy Award winner)
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America:Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2010 Academy Award nominee).

Awards and Honors

  • Hollywood Reporter Power Lawyers
  • Variety The Best and the Brightest
  • Daily Journal Top Women Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers in America
  • Southern California Super Lawyers
  • Daily Journal Top 50 Entertainment Lawyers