Director, Associate General Counsel
As a first generation college student and law school graduate, Danielle Cherney never considered in-house counsel as a career option. She earned her JD from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and went right to work for a St. Louis law firm.
Initially, she handled a lot of mergers and acquisitions. Helping smaller family-run companies buy or sell was especially rewarding for her. When she was just three years out of law school, she had the privilege of working on a transaction with a couple who was ready to retire. They had built their business together, running it out of their home. “I helped them through an instrumental and fundamental life change,” she says. “That was the first time I realized that I had something to offer as an attorney, that I knew what I was doing and what I was talking about.”
“When most people think of attorneys, they think of trial lawyers and litigators,” she adds. “There are many things you can do with a law degree. I encourage students and attorneys to explore their options. That’s what I did, and I discovered the world of contracts and corporate law.”
Today, Cherney enjoys the daily challenges of in-house counsel work for Spire Inc., the fifth largest publicly traded natural gas utility in the United States. She is the liaison with business leaders across the company in drafting, executing and interpreting procurement contracts. She also assists in resolving pre-litigation contract disputes.
Her passion for data and information security led her to obtain the Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) certification. She now assists with data security questions and works closely with Spire’s information technology and data security leaders to address business needs.
One of her favorite professional projects was assisting with Spire’s rebranding and name change process in 2018. That was a transformational project for her and her career. “Rebranding touched a lot of different departments in our company,” she says. “I had opportunities to work with many of them. Working together, we made the vision come to life.”
Cherney continues to expand her knowledge of the utility industry and her skill set within the types of utility-specific contracts she is working on. Known for her enthusiasm and cheerfulness, she appreciates every challenge as a new way to stretch and grow.
“I remember an attorney I worked with in private practice,” she says. “He bragged that he hadn’t taken any time off in 20 years.” She learned early on about the importance of making time for friends, family and fun. She and her husband enjoy hiking, standup paddleboarding, visiting national parks, skiing and scuba diving. She is also an accomplished karaoke singer.
One of Cherney’s favorite ways to give back is working with the Washington University in St. Louis Alumni & Parents Admission Program. “I love meeting driven young students who are also first generation college students,” she says. “I help them by providing mentorship and advice along the way.”