As the National Football Leagues Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers prepare to square off in Super Bowl XLVII, two lawyers from the ranks of the Am Law 100 have a particularly keen interest in how Sunday's big game plays out.
One of those attorneys, Richard Dick Cass, spent 30 years as a partner at a predecessor firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr before being named president of the Ravens in 2004. The other, 49ers legal affairs director Hannah Gordon, was an associate at Latham & Watkins before losing her job in February 2009 when, as The Am Law Daily reported at the time, the firm cut 190 associates and 250 staffers amid a recession-driven round of cutbacks.
Gordon, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday about her current job with the 49ers, didn't really discover football until arriving at UCLA as an undergraduate. Covering the school's popular football team as a reporter for the Daily Bruin deepened her interest in the game.
After graduating from UCLA, Gordon snagged an internship with the NFLs Oakland Raiders. There she met her mentor in current team CEO Amy Trask, who worked her own way up from intern to in-house attorney through the male-dominated ranks of the NFL to become one of the top female executives in all of professional sports.
Gordons next stop was Stanford Law School, which she graduated from in 2008. Then it was on to the Los Angeles office of Latham, where she had previously worked as a summer associate.
After Latham laid her off, Gordon saw an opening for a position at the NFLs league office in New York. She applied, got the job, and spent the next two years working for the leagues management council, which had previously done some work with Latham. As the councils manager of labor relations Gordon told the Peninsula Press in 2011 that she was the only woman in a nonsecretarial position in the council's 10-person departmentshe turned out to be in the right place at the right time.
The NFL had imposed a lockout on its players amid a breakdown in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. Though the lockout itself lasted only four months before players and management hammered out a new labor deal in July 2011one that generated substantial fees for a passel of high-profile lawyersthat was long enough for Gordon to impress her NFL bosses and those she interacted with among the leagues 32 teams.
Later that year Gordon, an Oakland native, joined the 49ers as the team's director of legal affairs. In a late 2011 interview with a women's football website, Gordon said her position requires handling marketing, sponsorship, and ticketing deals, helping out on players contracts, and acting as a liaison with the league office.
Gordon isnt the only woman working in the 49ers's in-house legal department. She reports to Patty Inglis, a former partner at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, who serves as an executive vice president for the team in charge of its efforts to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, California. (DLA Piper is providing finance counsel to the 49ers in connection with that project.)
Inglis previously served as general counsel of a company owned by former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who ceded control of the team to his sister Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John York after becoming ensnared in a corruption case involving former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards more than a decade ago.