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    11.02.16 Jeff Gewirtz ’94, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Chief Legal Officer, Offers Career Insights to Professor Jodi Balsam’s Sports Law Class

    Professor Jodi Balsam welcomed Jeff Gewirtz ’94, executive vice president of business affairs and chief legal officer of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, to her sports law class on Oct. 24 to discuss the many career avenues open to a sports and entertainment lawyer.

    Gewirtz oversees legal and business affairs for the Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center, the business operations of the New York Islanders, and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. He is responsible for working with the National Basketball Association on a wide range of transactional and compliance matters, and he also oversees the human resources function for all of the Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment companies.

    “You do a lot of things on any given day, and deal with any legal issues that arise for a sophisticated, complex business,” Gerwirtz said. “The subject matter happens to be live programming, whether sports or entertainment, but you see the same issues that a privately-held company would need to deal with. On top of that, being part of a joint venture, you also have to interface with the NBA on their thousand-plus pages of league rules, the operations manual, the collective bargaining agreement, the constitution bylaws and all the directives by the commissioner. So it’s typical in some ways as general counsel of a privately held company, but also atypical in many ways as well, because of the subject matter and the fact that we are part of a broader sports league.”

    Gewirtz also described how many sports leagues’ legal departments are structured like law firms.

    “The NBA, for example, has a handful of intellectual property lawyers and paralegals in New York, counsel who manages litigation, someone who conducts investigations, a group of lawyers focused on labor and the collective bargaining agreement, lawyers handling media and digital rights, lawyers who work on sponsorship transactions, and others who assist with the global licensed merchandise business,” he said.

    During a Q&A with students, Gewirtz discussed a range of topics, including the current controversy of players refusing to stand for the national anthem, issues concerning daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, and player conduct matters. He also emphasized the diversity of skills necessary to serve as in-house counsel to a professional sports team.

    “What a GC must always have top-of-mind is to acknowledge what you don’t know and should not handle in-house, and in those instances finding the right outside counsel with whom to partner,” Gewirtz said.

    Hearing from Jeff, my students gained essential insights into how the doctrine and theory they encounter in the classroom plays out in the world of sports law practice,” Balsam said. “I'm always grateful when our alums return to contribute to the educational mission in such a meaningful way.”

    Gewirtz joined the Brooklyn Nets and its affiliated arena operating company in May 2007 as senior vice president and general counsel; he was promoted to his current position in 2010. Prior to the Nets, Gewirtz served as general counsel and chief legal and government affairs officer for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), where he was responsible for all USOC legal matters, as well as the USOC's government relations activities with Congress and federal government agencies.

    Before that he was counsel for sports & entertainment transactions, marketing, and media in The Coca-Cola Company's corporate legal division. There he negotiated many of Coca-Cola's most significant sports marketing and media transactions, including its more than $500 million NCAA Corporate Champion marketing and media alliance with CBS Sports.

    Gewirtz was featured in the Spring 2013 issue of LawNotes.  Read his full bio here.