Vanessa Soman, General Counsel of The Street, Inc., and President of TheStreet Foundation ()
TheStreet Inc. provides financial news, business tips and tools for personal and institutional investors. Its digital publications — TheStreet.com and TheDeal.com — cover stocks and deals, personal finance strategies and corporate mergers and acquisitions, plus other stories about the financial world. Additional products include founder Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS.
Cramer, a former hedge-fund manger turned broadcaster and host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” started the company in 1996. TheStreet’s total revenue for 2012 was $50.7 million.
General counsel Vanessa Soman manages nearly all of the company’s legal matters with the help of one part-time employee.
A variety of factors, from her enjoyment of financial news to her admiration for Cramer and the work of TheStreet’s president and chief executive officer, Elisabeth DeMarse, drew Soman to this position, in which she spends about half of her time on contracts and other transactional work, one-third on employment and the rest on litigation, she said. Soman reports to John Ferrara, the company’s chief financial officer.
Soman handles most of the company’s legal work in-house, but relies on a long list of outside counsel to assist with overflow and certain commodity transactions.
She calls on Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner Karen Dempsey for help with corporate governance and securities matters. For media law, she reaches out to Davis Wright Tremaine partner Ed Davis. Monica Riva Talley, a director at Washington firm Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox rounds out the top of Soman’s list of go-to attorneys for trademark and intellectual property transactions.
Soman described herself as an expert in privacy and transactional work who is in her element dealing with the company’s myriad contracts, ranging from software and data agreements to licensing and advertising. “I guess you could say on some level that every contract has an IP component,” she said.
Media law is another important part of her practice. Employment issues, too, fall under her purview. In her spare time, she is learning more about financial services. “I’m constantly seeking out something I don’t know,” she said.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Soman became TheStreet’s general counsel at the end of 2013. She received her undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1991. Five years later, she earned a dual master’s degree in political science and J.D. from Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law at night while working full time for the U.S. Department of Energy. She developed an IP practice working for government agencies and in private practice before going in-house for corporations like Sears Holdings Corp., Kaplan Inc. and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.
The New Rochelle, N.Y., native is married to Sean Soman and they have two dogs, Cody and Aurelius. She hand-crafts clothing and home décor. “Right now I have a craft room in complete disarray. I’m not doing Martha Stewart any justice.”
“Understanding Stocks” by Michael Sincere, a book about how to invest. Soman read it to bone up on financial services; she needs to speak the same language as the journalists who write for TheStreet.