Aspira, the former Outdoors division of Active Network, provides connected experiences for the outdoor recreation industry. Aspira’s comprehensive suite of reservation and licensing technology and service solutions support federal, state, provincial and local government park, campground and conservation agencies, conveniently connecting them with outdoor adventure seekers from around the world. Aspira has nearly 1,000 employees and is headquartered in Dallas with nine offices worldwide. Jeff Dalton serves as the company’s senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary.
Aspira’s legal department includes Dalton and one other attorney, who together provide legal support and guidance for all aspects of the company’s business. They handle everything from drafting and negotiating customer contracts, to managing litigation and outside counsel. They also advise on a variety of matters including those around financing, insurance, employment, real estate, brand management, IP and compliance.
“We try to keep as much as possible in house and generally only go to outside counsel for litigation, M&A and some IP and employment matters,” he said.
Dalton said he probably outsources less than 15 percent of the company’s legal work. When outside counsel are needed though, he mainly turns to: Kirkland & Ellis for general corporate matters and M&A; Vedder Price for litigation; Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo for employment and some data privacy matters; and Blake, Cassels & Graydon for assistance in Canada. Aspira also uses Han Kun Law Offices in China.
Every day is different for Dalton, though he spends the majority of his time advising and counseling senior management on both legal and business matters. He said he also spends time directing litigation, negotiating contracts with customers and prospective customers, reviewing proposals in response to RFPs, reviewing and negotiating contracts with vendors on the procurement side and providing contract interpretation.
Route to the Top
After graduating from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1999, Dalton worked for a small firm in Houston doing M&A work for a year before moving to Clark, Thomas & Winters in Austin, where he did M&A and other general corporate work for 4.5 years.
He then went in-house, moving back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and working for Sabre Holdings in Southlake for eight years. He was first primarily focused on M&A and corporate finance and then took on additional responsibility for privacy matters. From Sabre, Dalton moved to MoneyGram International in Dallas, where he held a dual role as chief privacy officer and associate GC with responsibility for M&A, brand enforcement and records management.
After working at MoneyGram for 2.5 years, Dalton moved to Active Network in the role of deputy GC and head of privacy. Active Network was sold in September 2017, and, in connection with that transaction, Aspira was spun out as a stand-alone entity and Dalton stepped in as its GC and corporate secretary.
Dalton is married and has two children, ages 11 and 14. He bicycles to work at least one day a week and enjoys tinkering with cars–the family has a 1980 Jeep CJ-5 and a 1978 VW Beetle–as well as woodworking and traveling.
“We’ve taken our kids all over the country, from Florida, Washington, D.C., New York and Maine, to California, Alaska, and Hawaii,” he said. “And internationally, we’ve traveled to Canada, England, France and Australia.”
Dalton said he especially enjoys books about outdoor adventures, recently finishing “Goodbye to a River,” by John Graves, an autobiographical account of a multi-week canoe trip down the Brazos River in north-central Texas combined with a history of the area. He also enjoyed “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson, which humorously describes the author’s unsuccessful attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. He said he just started reading “TakingPoint” a leadership guide by Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL and fellow SMU alum.