Valerie Ann Nemeth talks business, pleasure


Valerie Ann Nemeth of Rancho Santa Fe has been an attorney in private practice since 1979 and a sole practitioner since 1980. She’s been active in the entertainment field, forming a personal management company in 1981 for entertainment and sports personalities.

Moving her practice to San Diego in 1984 and opening an office in Encinitas in 1988, she’s concentrated her area of practice in entertainment and intellectual property, performing negotiations and drafting agreements in the music, television and publishing fields.

Nemeth is a founding board member of Women’s Global Network San Diego (WGN), a group of 200-plus powerhouse women that prefer to talk business on the “back nine” of golf courses, over dinners and other excursions, and encourage women to enter local, national and global leadership roles while advancing positive change in their communities. Since WGN’s inception, Nemeth has been director of special projects, helping with intellectual property and general counsel.

What brought you to Rancho Santa Fe?

My husband at the time was well-established in San Diego. Being from Los Angeles and still traveling there on a regular basis, I wanted to be in North County. It is a lovely environment, a feeling of being removed from the rest of the world.

What makes the Ranch special to you?

Lots of trees and horses crossing busy streets.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Rancho Santa Fe?

I would remove some of the local politics, which pit neighbor against neighbor. It can get ugly.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by some of the people who come to my office with exciting and creative ideas, many who want to use their creations to make a difference in the world. I am always amazed by how much original and creative genius there is out there. I am also truly inspired by the apparent re-energized interest in making a difference in communities, particularly the interest in getting out the vote in the younger sector. It makes me feel hopeful for this country after a sense of apathy for so many years.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I always enjoy my family, from my siblings to aunts, uncles and cousins here and in the U.K. They are an interesting group and I am so fortunate to have kin whom I love and enjoy. But that’s a boring answer, isn’t it? I just had a terrific sit-down dinner for eight, which included a law professor and his accountant spouse, an actor and his composer/entrepreneur wife, and a couple who moved back from the bay area and who are both high-level techies. There were lots of brains and creativity in that room and we had a great time. I like mixing it up. OK, so if I had to pick a few names, let’s say: George Soros, Christopher Hitchens, Arianna Huffington, Lenny Bruce, Thurgood Marshall, Larry Flynt and Woody Allen. It should be an amusing evening at least.

What are you currently reading?

Basically legal books, trade publications and whatever is on my screen. No time for leisure reading, except the Sunday New York Times.

What is your most prized possession?

Interesting question since mandatory evacuations, as in last year’s fires, causes one to think about possessions, and I had concluded that there was nothing material I couldn’t live without. It was very cathartic in a way - not to minimize of course the effect on those who truly lost everything. Items such as old photos, my mom’s passport, some old letters, things that truly cannot be replaced would be the only things I cherish and would miss.

What do you do for fun?

I love travel and want to do more. Independent and foreign films, theater, opera. Staying home and watching an old flick or one of my cable series addictions-du-jour with a good wine and select cheeses from Venissimo works for me too.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

First and foremost my son, Gordon. My practice and the fact that it continues to grow in what started out in unchartered waters. I once was at a launch party for a company, which had contracted several actors on whose behalf I negotiated agreements. The president of the company told me that they actually named a version of what became their standard agreement after me - the “Nemeth Contract” - which they would only pull out for the actors who demanded more favorable terms. That felt great.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

“If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” has always resonated with me. Get out there and make a difference!