Pool of Arbitrators

Denise M. Alter

Independent Arbitrator

Denise is an arbitrator with extensive professional experience in art and cultural property law, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution, and commercial litigation. A retired lawyer and legal educator with 30 years of practice experience, Denise now offers her services to arbitrate or mediate fine art disputes.

Denise possesses broad knowledge regarding art and cultural property law issues including, but not limited to, fine art contracts, sales and purchase transactions, copyright law and licensing, visual artists rights, art theft and repatriation, conservation, authentication, cultural property laws and treaties, and collection best practices. For many years, Denise taught Art and Cultural Property Law at the Berkeley School of Law and at the Hastings College of Law for the University of California.

Denise founded Bridge Law, a law firm specializing in legal services for artists and for fine art collectors including the Microsoft Art Collection. She is the author of Corporate Art Collecting and Fiduciary Duties to Shareholders: Legal Duties and Best Practices for Corporate Directors and Officers, 2009 Columbia L. Rev. 1; and of Application of the Visual Artists Rights Act to Fine Art Conservation. In addition to her law school lectures on visual arts legal issues, Denise has spoken to fine arts organizations such as the San Francisco Art Dealers Association and the Los Angeles Friends of Contemporary Art on topics including collection best practices, droit de suite, copyright and artist rights, statutory laws governing dealers, fine art acquisitions and sales, and fine art loans.

Denise has extensive arbitration, mediation, and litigation experience. She was a partner at Orrick—a global law firm, and executive legal counsel for a large federal agency. She has served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, and as an arbitration advocate in complex cases. She taught Commercial Arbitration at the University of San Francisco School of Law for six years, and Advanced Trial Advocacy at the Berkeley School of Law for a decade. She has addressed corporate legal departments on arbitration; developed an arbitration advocacy program for the U.S. Postal Service; and served on the board on the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

Denise was appointed to the Arbitration and Mediation pools of CAfA in January 2020.

Her educational background includes: the University of San Francisco (J.D.) (magna cum laude, member of the law review); Christie’s Education (M.A.) (art history, history of the art market, and connoisseurship); and the University of Colorado, Boulder (B.A) (with study at the University of Lancaster, England).

Jurisdiction: U.S.A