Corporate counsel is running strong

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
In-House Counsel

If anyone knows how to stay on track with what’s happening in sports and entertainment law, it’s probably the lead attorney for USA Track & Field.

As general counsel and chief of business affairs for the Indianapolis-based sports organization that governs track and field, running and race walking, Norm Wain is in the right spot to not only help transform and modernize the country’s largest participant sport but also bring together sports and entertainment corporate counsel from across the country.

In the months leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London when an array of events are scattered across the country and world, the organization sees this as a prime time to get sports fans interested in track and field. And Wain is the legal mind charting that path forward.

“We’re exploring many options to make track and field more relevant,” he said. “For me, this position has been dynamic and exciting. It’s presenting opportunities to improve upon the product and build on it, and that’s the type of challenge that gets my juices flowing.”

wain-norman-15col.jpg Norm Wain (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Although he’s only been with USA Track and Field since July 2010, Wain has been on a course leading to this point since he graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law in 1996. After graduating, he interned for Doug Logan who led Major League Soccer during its inaugural year. Wain hoped to get a job there, but it didn’t materialize and he went to work for a Los Angeles talent agency, Fox Sports World and Big Shot Films International, which created direct-to-consumer videos of professional athletes. He came to Indianapolis in 1999 after taking a position with athletic specialty retailer The Finish Line, and worked for more than a decade as vice president of corporate legal affairs.

A couple years ago, Wain’s first mentor, Logan, took over as CEO of USA Track and Field and the two connected at an Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Lakers game at Conseco Fieldhouse.

“We started chatting at the game, and I joked about there being no statute of limitations on that MLS job offer,” Wain said. “We got a good laugh, and the next thing I know I’m working for him again at USA Track and Field. What sold me on the position was that this sport has been on the decline for several years and the perception is kind of like an Olympic sport – you hear about it every four years and that’s it. We’re trying to professionalize it and make it another strong sports property with regular coverage and consistency.”

As the sole in-house attorney, Wain said his daily duties involve basic corporate counsel tasks such as governance, contracts and policy and procedure reviews. Some tasks might involve developing an integrated marketing strategy that hits across all digital platforms or exploring the possibility of a reality TV show that follows an athlete and leads into coverage of USA Track and Field events with sponsorships.

In revamping the sporting events, Wain said he’s looking at creating new events that could coincide with a network TV season and setting up more local events – such as a “city games” concept that could involve a sprint down Washington Street in Indianapolis where bleachers are set up on the sidewalks.

“You run it from A to Z, and that’s part of the challenge,” he said about the job. “Athletes want it to be a professional sport and they want to see the money associated with that professionalism. We’re laying a foundation and trying to secure and protect our events, to properly package for the sports world.”

The organization’s chief communications officer, Jill Geer, said Wain’s role as general counsel is different from his predecessors. He’s been more involved in the overall strategy and planning aspects of the USA Track and Field.

“As general counsel, Norm can go from soup to nuts very quickly,” she said about his ability to adapt to whatever is needed. “We’re in the midst of changing our businesses model, and he’s been more actively involved on the front end, where in the past general counsels were on the back end just drafting contracts. This gives Norm the ability to prevent some of those 11th-hour changes and problems.”

Wain’s influence in the corporate counsel world extends beyond Indiana. He’s not only the former president of the Association of Corporate Counsel of Indiana, he also serves as a member of the ACC’s national governing board. In that role, he has taken the lead in making sports and entertainment law a focus for corporate counsel nationwide.

On Nov. 30, the ACC announced the creation of a new Sports and Entertainment Committee, aimed at serving members with an interest in those areas of law and focusing on specific issues such as contracts, licensing, sponsorships, endorsements, technology and intellectual property.

The new committee has been in the works for about a year, according to Wain, based on a concept that he formulated with Ellen Zavian, the first female sports agent representing NFL players and now associate general counsel for the ACC. The pair attended another sports law association’s conference and heard updates in the world of sports and what was happening in each individual league, but there wasn’t anything specific to corporate counsel, Wain said. They explored the idea and found a strong interest for something more among the general counsels for sports teams, professional leagues, amateur sports and other related businesses. Last year, they created an interest group focusing on those areas.

“There are different sports organizations for sports lawyers out there, but neither of us felt that those organizations hit the day-to-day legal issues that come across the desk of in-house sports lawyers on a regular basis,” Wain said. “There wasn’t anything touching on those nuts and bolts of what we handle every day, like real estate or concessions, player deals or sponsor agreements.”

Wain plans to chair the new committee before stepping aside in October 2012.

The new committee’s goal is to use eGroups, legal updates and local events nationwide to connect with the organization’s 29,000 members and provide corporate counsel specific resources, Wain said. Members have already presented CLE programs at the organization’s annual meeting in St. Louis.

“Members of the sports industry in general are coming together more and more to network and support each other,” said Amie Peele Carter with Baker & Daniels’ sports and entertainment law group, who created the nonprofit Sports Circle Indy networking organization earlier this year. “The ACC has become more active in recent years in supporting general counsel in niche areas, and targeted groups can be very effective resources for general counsel as a means to discuss ideas, current topics of concern and best practices.”•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  3. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.