ILNews

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.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  2. MELISA EVA VALUE INVESTMENT Greetings to you from Melisa Eva Value Investment. We offer Business and Personal loans, it is quick and easy and hence can be availed without any hassle. We do not ask for any collateral or guarantors while approving these loans and hence these loans require minimum documentation. We offer great and competitive interest rates of 2% which do not weigh you down too much. These loans have a comfortable pay-back period. Apply today by contacting us on E-mail: melisaeva9@gmail.com WE DO NOT ASK FOR AN UPFRONT FEE. BEWARE OF SCAMMERS AND ONLINE FRAUD.

  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

ADVERTISEMENT