SAG-AFTRA Names Jonathan Handel as an Outside Special Counsel

Jonathan Handel
Courtesy Jonathan Handel

The union is also acquiring an app that Handel wrote to help members navigate health insurance.

Performers' union SAG-AFTRA has engaged entertainment/technology attorney and journalist Jonathan Handel as an outside Special Counsel to the union, to work on special projects and additional issues.

Handel is a 30-year practicing attorney (he will continue to practice law for clients that do not conflict with SAG-AFTRA assignments) and wrote for The Hollywood Reporter for the past decade.

"[We] look forward to engaging his talents on a number of crucial issues and projects," said SAG-AFTRA chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland in a released statement. "He is an accomplished and forward-thinking attorney with a talent for incisive analysis, which coupled with his entertainment industry expertise perfectly positions him to help advise on complex matters for the union."

As part of the agreement, the union is also acquiring an app that Handel wrote to help members navigate their health insurance options. “This is a time of enormous economic and technological challenge for all SAG-AFTRA members,” Handel said in a released statement. “Working- and middle-class people are under assault in this country, and our industries are no different. I’m excited and grateful to have the opportunity to help tackle some of the toughest problems ever faced by the union’s members – many of whom I have the privilege to call friends – and I hope to make an enduring contribution to their careers, well-being and basic dignity.”

Handel received his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Harvard Law School. He was active in LGBTQ and party politics and wrote a local civil rights ordinance in addition to serving on various city commissions. He also served as a federal associate independent counsel investigating alleged White House political misconduct, and was a member of the Writers Guild of America, West, legal staff, before transitioning to entertainment and technology transactional law.

The author of four books on entertainment labor, Handel is currently on the adjunct faculty at USC Gould School of Law and Southwestern Law School. Handel is also a member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild and the Society of Composers & Lyricists.