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Los Angeles (September 20, 2006) -- Screen Actors Guild today announced the promotions of Laura Beedy Ritchie and William Bensussen to deputy general counsel. Bensussen will focus on the Guild's collective bargaining and contract enforcement initiatives, while Ritchie will focus on issues of legal strategy and policy. Both attorneys previously served as assistant general counsel for the Guild and, along with New York-based Deputy General Counsel Ray Rodriguez, will continue to report directly to General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. The promotions are effective immediately.

"Laura and Will have been extraordinarily valuable contributors to the success of the Guild and our Legal Department," said Crabtree-Ireland. "They both bring considerable legal experience and impressive talents to their new roles. The Guild is very fortunate to have two such outstanding advocates leading its Hollywood-based legal team, especially as actors face new and exciting challenges in a world of rapidly developing technology."

"Working at the Guild has given me the unique opportunity to advocate for actors on a variety of issues," said Ritchie. "It is an honor to serve our membership as deputy general counsel. As technological and economic developments continue to change the industry, it is an exciting time to work on Guild policy and strategy."

"I look forward to continuing my service to the members in my new role as deputy general counsel," said Bensussen. "While focusing on contract enforcement and collective bargaining, I look forward to tackling the many challenges we'll face with the development of new media platforms in relation to our contracts. Now is a critical time to secure the fair share that our members deserve, and I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of that."

Bensussen joined the Guild as counsel in 2002 and was promoted to assistant general counsel in 2005. Prior to joining the Guild, he worked for four years at the law firm of Friedman & Friedman, where he concentrated on general litigation with an emphasis on post-judgment enforcement and collections. Bensussen has also taught multimedia business law at the Art Institute of Los Angeles and served as an election monitor in the 2004 presidential election. He received his bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley in 1992 and earned his juris doctor from George Washington University in 1997.

Ritchie also began working at the Guild in 2002 and was promoted to assistant general counsel in 2005. She previously worked as an associate at Jackson & Wallace LLP and as a public defender in San Francisco. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1992 and earned a juris doctor from the University of San Francisco in 1995. Ritchie currently serves on the board of directors of the Downtown Women's Center and is a state bar-appointed special master.