Loni Sherwin comes from a family of attorneys, which meant she was exposed to the profession at a young age. Back then, though, she was more interested in a career in advertising, and wanted to create the next big Nike television commercial.
“I took some [marketing] internships in college and figured out it’s not really what I wanted to do,” she says. “After college and working as a paralegal for a couple years, almost by inertia, I ended up going to law school. I took some classes in trademarks and copyrights and got really interested in IP. From my initial interest in marketing, it was a natural leap to focus on protecting companies’ brands and content.”
After graduating law school, Sherwin went to work at the law firm Arent Fox in Washington, DC, where she spent over a decade counseling various clients (including one of the world’s largest food, pet food, and beverage manufacturers) on trademark and copyright issues. “I really enjoyed that work,” she says. “Getting to know particular clients and their businesses and industries in-depth made me want to move to an in-house counsel role at a company.”
In 2018, she started at BlackRock in Charlotte, North Carolina, focusing on data licensing and providing thought leadership and legal advice on data strategies for the company’s investment teams and sustainability-related ESG and climate initiatives.
“BlackRock is licensing third-party data to help investors make more informed investment decisions,” explains Sherwin, who is vice president and legal counsel at BlackRock. “We’re looking at not just market data like securities ratings and pricing data, but also alternative data sources that are used in quant investing—things like credit card data and retail foot traffic pattern data—as well as ESG and climate risk data that are helping BlackRock to incorporate sustainability into investment decisions.”
For instance, in 2020 BlackRock introduced ninety-three new sustainable solutions, helping clients allocate $39 billion to sustainable investment strategies, which helped increase its sustainable assets by 41 percent. The company also added 1,200 sustainability metrics to its Aladdin platform and established data partnerships with Sustainalytics, Refinitiv, Rhodium, and others to understand ESG and physical climate risks.
“By putting in place these data licenses, we’re helping to stand up the business and enable BlackRock to execute on its sustainability goals,” Sherwin explains.
While continuing to negotiate data license agreements, she also leads the world’s largest asset manager’s global trademark and copyright activities, including portfolio management, acquisition, enforcement, licensing, IP-related support on commercial transactions, and counseling. Sherwin is part of the company’s digital enterprise legal team, comprised of around thirty attorneys who support the company’s digital, technology, data, and intellectual property initiatives. The IP legal team, consisting of four attorneys, is just one part of that overall team. Together, they support all of BlackRock in their trademark and copyright activities.
While Sherwin is an expert on trademarks and copyrights, she enjoys getting to learn more about the asset management industry. In fact, that learning process is an aspect of her career journey that Sherwin draws upon when offering advice to others.
“I had the IP background, but didn’t necessarily have in-depth knowledge of the asset management industry, so it has been a fun challenge to continually learn about BlackRock’s services and our industry, and apply my knowledge in a new context,” she explains. “Knowing the business and industry has helped me provide sound, practical advice. I always tell people to do their research and ask questions and establish relationships through talking to people.”
For the rest of 2021, BlackRock will continue building out its IP legal capabilities. “BlackRock is constantly growing and changing; I’ll be focusing on supporting the company as it grows and evolves and continuing to protect it from a data and IP perspective,” Sherwin says.
She constantly encounters fresh challenges—an aspect of her role that she enjoys. “Every day, I’m fielding questions and giving advice to different people and learning about different aspects of the business, which keeps it exciting,” she notes. “Our industry is constantly evolving, and so are we.”
Congratulations to Loni Sherwin for the well-deserved recognition! Loni’s careful attention to detail and constant eye on strategy combine with her gracious demeanor to inspire excellence at every turn. Day Pitney is proud of its longstanding relationship with BlackRock and we look forward to our continued partnership as Loni makes her mark on the ever-evolving business.