Stepping Up to the Plate
DAVID PROUTY is a labor lawyer, first, last, and always. He handles employment issues. He negotiates with employers. He fights for his clients rights. If that sounds more or less typical, heres a different spin for you: Proutys clients are major league baseball players. Hes the new general counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association, arguably one of the most powerful unions in the country.
Prouty, formerly the MLBPAs chief labor counsel, was promoted to the GC post in February. As GC he succeeds MICHAEL WEINER, who formerly acted as the unions top lawyer as well as its executive director. Weiner announced in August that he was being treated for an inoperable brain tumor.
Prouty, only the fourth general counsel in the history of the union, says his primary focus will not change. My job is still to make sure players get the best legal representation we can give them, he says.
Prouty faces a full lineup of challenges. He will continue to deal with the ongoing uproar over performance-enhancing drugs, which has resulted in increased drug screening of players and some suspensions. He will also focus on unforeseen issues surrounding the new free agent compensation system. The union has no direct say in who gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Prouty says the MLBPA made it clear that it was not pleased that no player was elected to the Hall of Fame this yearpresumably because some eligible players were believed to have used steroids. The decision to elect someone should be based entirely on what he accomplished as a player and his contribution to baseball, Prouty says. All of the players who were accused of drug use were exonerated in legal proceedings, and others up for consideration were never even implicated.
He also considers it shameful that Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the MLBPA, has not been voted in. Miller, who died last year, gained fame by negotiating the unions first collective bargaining agreement, leading the union through turbulent times, and transforming it into the powerful organization that it is today. He was a tremendous inspiration to me, to our union, and to unions all over the world, Prouty says.
The 54-year-old attorney, who was previously general counsel for UNITE HERE, an international union for clothing, textile, laundry, hotel, and restaurant workers, says he is dismayed by efforts made to strip workers of collective bargaining rights. It pains me that the idea of collective bargaining is under attack, because collective bargaining allowed the middle class in this country to grow, he says.
Prouty, who graduated from Bowdoin College and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, particularly credits collective bargaining with making the MLBPA strong and enabling baseball to finally experience labor peace. The sport went through years of acrimony, but has enjoyed relative calm since its 199495 strike because owners realized they couldnt afford another destructive labor stoppage, Prouty says. They recognized that they needed to develop a more mature collective bargaining agreement and brought in good people to negotiate with the union.
Still, Prouty believes that it is always a challenge for a union to stay strong, and it is his job to constantly prepare himself and the players for every negotiation. A baseball players working life is pretty short, he says. When we negotiate these agreements, we cant afford to mess up.
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TRIBUNE OF THE PEOPLE
Tribune Company, having recently emerged from bankruptcy and tapped a new chief executive, announced the selection of EDWARD LAZARUS as its new general counsel at the end of January. A former high-ranking official at the Federal Communications Commission, Lazarus stepped into his new role immediately. He replaces DAVID ELDERSVELD, Tribunes general counsel since 2010. Eldersveld, who joined the company in 2005, will stay on in an advisory role. Tribune CEO Peter Liguori praised Lazaruss experience with the companys primary regulator; Lazarus served as chief of staff to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for nearly three years. Chicago-based Tribune Company owns or operates 23 television stations across the country. Its eight daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. Purchased by Sam Zell in 2007, Tribune entered bankruptcy in 2008. It emerged from bankruptcy protection at the end of 2012, and Liguori and a new board of directors took over in January.
The company has urged the FCC to eliminate or radically revise restrictions on cross-media ownership in a given market, per a public comment letter filed last April. A four-year review of broadcast ownership rules at the commission has stirred up no shortage of controversy in Washington, D.C. At press time there was no sign of a final resolution.
In November the agency granted Tribune a batch of waivers on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership in several marketsa move that facilitated Tribunes exit from four years under bankruptcy protection.
But Tribune walked away with only one permanent waiver, for its operations in Chicago, and four temporary waivers, which are good for a year and are conditioned on the company coming into compliance with FCC ownership rules. The temporary waivers apply to Tribune operations in New York, Los Angeles, MiamiFort Lauderdale, and HartfordNew Haven.
Lazarus and Liguori, a longtime television executive, attended Yale together in the early 1980s, and Lazarus was the CEOs first executive appointment, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The new GC earned both his B.A. and his J.D. from Yale. He went on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and later served in the U.S. attorneys office in Los Angeles. In private practice, Lazarus was a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he chaired the national litigation steering committee and founded the firms appellate practice.
Lazarus worked at the FCC from 2009 to early 2012, a time when the commission produced the first National Broadband Plan and adopted open Internet rules. Upon his departure, he accepted a fellowship at the Aspen Institute.
A prominent writer, Lazarus penned Closed Chambers: The Rise, Fall, and Future of the Modern Supreme Court (Times Books, 1998) and Black Hills/White Justice: The Sioux Nation Versus the United States, 1775 to the Present (HarperCollins, 1991). He has also written for publications including The New York Times and The Atlantic.
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A Razorback all the way
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced the promotion of KAREN ROBERTS to executive vice president and general counsel in late December. She took up her new role at the beginning of February, reporting to JEFF GEARHEART, who is vacating the GC chair to take on a new role as executive vice president and corporate secretary of Wal-Mart Stores.
Roberts has been with the Bentonville, Arkansasbased company since 1995 and most recently served as executive vice president and president at Walmart Realty for Walmart U.S. She has held a number of in-house roles at the family-owned retailer during her 18-year tenure, including senior vice president and chief compliance officer for the domestic division, and VP and general counsel for U.S. real estate and construction. Among her numerous duties, she oversaw the establishment of new product safety programs and managed the companys recycling programs. The new GC can expect to have a very busy year: Her appointment came just after a New York Times investigation revealed more details of a widespread culture of alleged bribes at Wal-Mart de México. Last November, Wal-Mart announced that it had also started internal inquiries into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in China, India, and Brazil.
Even before those reports, the global retailing giant had begun reorganizing its in-house team to better focus on compliance issues and deal with its expanding probe into the allegations of bribery.
Roberts has spent most of her life and career in Arkansas. She obtained her bachelor of science in public administration from Harding University, a Churches of Christaffiliated institution in Searcy, northeast of Little Rock. She earned her J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.
Gearhart will continue to oversee the vast companys overall legal function in his new role, and will take on added responsibilities working with Wal-Marts compliance, ethics, and investigations teams.
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Georgetown University has tapped LISA BROWN, a former senior government official, to serve as the universitys vice president and general counsel. In her new role at the nations oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, Brown is expected to address issues related to globalization and the role of technology at the university, as well as focus on the schools campus master plan.
Brown was until recently the federal governments acting chief performance officer at the Office of Management and Budget. Previously, she worked in the White House as staff secretary for President Barack Obamaa role that made her the gatekeeper for every piece of paper that reached his desk, and prompted the website Muckety?.com to call her one of the more powerful behind-the-scenes players in the Obama administration.
The 53-year-old attorney has spent most of her career in the nations capital. She worked in senior White House roles during the Clinton administration, including four years as deputy counsel, then as counsel, to Vice President Al Gore.
Brown, who earned her bachelors degree from Princeton University and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, clerked for Judge John Cooper Godboldon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Montgomery. Early in her career she also held a one-year fellowship as a staff attorney at the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles.
Before her first stint in government, Brown was a partner at Shea & Gardner (now Goodwin Procter) in Washington, where she was known for an active pro bono practice that focused on disability issues. She has had a considerable career in the not-for-profit sector, serving as executive director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, a progressive legal organization based in Washington. She also worked at D.C. civil rights firm Relman & Associates after leaving Vice President Gores office and prior to joining ACS.
Brown took up her new post at the beginning of March. She replaces STEPHANIE TSACOUMIS, who is now general counsel of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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Pro bono veteran JENNETT HILL has been named vice president and general counsel of Indianapolis-based Citizens Energy Group. Shell report to senior vice president and chief legal and compliance officer JOHN WHITAKER until his retirement at the end of the year.
Hill comes to Citizens from international firm Faegre Baker Daniels, where she advised clients on corporate governance, intellectual property, Internet law, and privacy matters. Hills legal practice catered to nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations, and she received several awards for pro bono service during her 12 years at the firm.
Hill led Faegres partnership with Eli Lilly and Company to create a Street Law program, designed to introduce high school students to the workings of civil law. She also took charge of the firms participation in the Indiana Lawyers for Soldiers initiative, which offers free legal services to deployed Indiana National Guard members and their families.
The new GC first became plugged into Citizenss legal issues as an outside adviser from Faegre. She represented the organization, a public charitable trust that provides energy services to more than 266,000 customers, on a whole battery of legal issues. For the past eight years, Hill counseled Citizens on its community redevelopment efforts, which included providing the utility with legal advice on local economic development and neighborhood revitalization initiatives.
Before going into private practice, Hill spent more than a decade working for International Business Machines Corporation in nonlegal capacities, including as a systems engineer, systems design consultant, and regional manager.
Hill earned her J.D. from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and her B.A. from DePauw University.
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climb every mountain
Theres a new legal ranger at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The agency named JAMES TOWNSEND to replace JOHN BANTA as general counsel following Bantas retirement after more than three decades with the APA.
A native of Bronxville, New York, the 68-year-old Townsend earned his B.A. at Trinity College, Hartford, and graduated from the Albany Law School of Union University in 1971.
Most recently, Townsend was a partner at Remington, Gifford, Williams & Colicchio, a general practice firm located in Rochester, New York. He advised corporate clients on a variety of legal business issues and matters related to real estate financing.
Adirondack Park was created in 1892 by New York State to preserve water and timber resources in the area. At over 6 million acres, it is the largest park in the lower 48 states, and encompasses Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State, and 18 wilderness areas. (There are also a couple of prisons, which are not technically on park land.) The state legislature established the APA in 1971 to develop long-term land use plans for both its public and private spaces.
Getting familiar with the APAs legal issues should be a walk in the park for the new GC. Townsend was an active member of the agencys board of directors from June of 1999 until May of 2010. Townsend chaired the boards legal affairs, regulatory programs, state land, and technical advisory committees.
As head of the committees, Townsend worked with the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and various stakeholders to address policy concerns. Their collaborative efforts helped push through regulatory reforms favorable to the park and led to increased protection of its shorelines and wetlands.
In a statement, Townsend said that his passion for the Adirondacks had only increased in the years since he left the board. The parks new GC belongs to the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, a club whose members goal is to scale the 46 High Peaks of the upstate New York range.