March 31, 2004
Entertainment and Sports Law Conference Brings Giants behind the Stars to YLS
Prominent sports agents, litigators, baseball executives, and movie producers will visit Yale Law School to speak at the first Yale Law School Entertainment and Sports Law Conference. The conference will be held on April 23 and is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Yale Entertainment and Sports Law Association, and made possible by a gift from Shearman & Sterling LLP. A complete schedule is available at the conference website.
Five panels throughout the day will cover a range of subjects in entertainment and sports law:
-The True Hollywood Story: Real Experiences from Entertainment Litigators
-It's a Wrap! The Ins and Outs of Lawyering in the Entertainment Industry
-The Real Heavy Hitters: Baseball Insiders Discuss the Future of the Game
-I Love This Game! A Panel Addressing Legal Affairs of the NBA from Top-Tier Practitioners
-Executive Decisions: Management and Law in Entertainment and Sports Industries
Speakers include Lon S. Babby '76, a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP; John F. Breglio, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP; Randall McMillan, director of business and legal affairs at The Island Def Jam Music Group; Bruce Cohen, a producer at Jinks/Cohen Productions; and Ed Wade, general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
As Harold McDougal IV '04, one of the conference organizers, explains, YESLA organized the conference because, "We wanted to give ourselves, and also other students who are interested, an opportunity to learn more about the practice, how it goes on, and possible career opportunities you might have in those fields."
There are few formal opportunities to study the subject in law school, and so the students in YESLA decided to bring in the experts--the people who practice this kind of law every day.
The conference naturally broadened beyond strict questions of law. Says McDougal, "It's as much about the business as it is about the law." Speakers range from a baseball general manager to the managing director of Goldman Sachs & Co. Some panels focus on litigation and transaction law in the entertainment and sports industries, but others look at management and business decisions.
"I don't know anyone who's not interested in entertainment or sports," says Lily Fan '04, another organizer of the conference. In addition to the broad appeal of the subject matter, she says that each of the panels should be filled with exciting speakers. She adds, "Everyone on our list is a giant in what they do... We could spend an hour talking about each one of them."
Derek Kaufman '03 organized the NBA panel, and he says he tried to bring together people with different perspectives on the industry. "I put it together to have elements of agents, transactional guys, litigation guys, and I think it came together well, since we got such a positive response."
McDougal is particularly looking forward to the two panels that focus on entertainment law. He says, "The lawyers are in some ways more entertaining than the clients they represent. So you can get a chance to see those guys in action.... Some people work for the record company, some people work for the artist, those are always great discussions."
Each panel will be moderated by an entry-level practitioner. For example, the moderator of the "True Hollywood Story" panel is Tania Krebs '03, an associate in entertainment litigation at Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP--who just last year was the president of YESLA. Kaufman says the organizers hope this approach will give the audience a better understanding of the career path in the industry. A panelist such as John Breglio, says Kaufman, "is a huge, towering figure, who would seem somewhat inaccessible.... But these moderators are more ground-level associates... so that you can see, in the panel, the steps to become a John Breglio."
A conference that started out as the modest idea of three students has grown into an expansive, day-long program with twenty-six top-flight speakers, and the student organizers credit two factors. First, "the Yale name has cache in all realms," as Kaufman puts it. McDougal adds, "It turns out, if you give a student group the resources to do something, and you turn them loose with the Yale Law name ... it's got such a great reputation that people are really willing to come on board." Second, YESLA received indispensable support from Shearman & Sterling LLP. Says Fan, "Hopefully, the partnership with Shearman & Sterling can continue. This time around, they not only gave us the majority of our budget, but they also provided a lot of client relations for us, and they're bringing three of their biggest clients [to be speakers]."