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Being on a ball team is supposed to be a dream come true. So when outsiders fantasize about what it must be like to be Lucinda Treat, general counsel for the Boston Red Sox, they think her day probably goes something like this: 10 a.m.: Conference with General Manager Theo Epstein to decide the relative merits of acquiring another superstar player. Noon: Check on the kink in Jason Varitek’s swing. 2 p.m.: Vet owner John Henry’s latest press release lampooning the Yankees’ George Steinbrenner. 4 p.m.: Toss batting practice for the entire team. 7:05 p.m.: Settle into Henry’s luxury Fenway suite to enjoy the night’s game, with a menu of filet and imported beer. Indeed, Treat says she’s been asked some ridiculous questions, including the one about batting practice. And although the reality of her job is much less fantastical, it is still one of the more stimulating posts in the legal world. In Treat’s relatively short career, she has already piloted Henry’s 1999 purchase of the Florida Marlins, served as the team’s chief lobbyist in trying to win public financing for a new Miami stadium and played a key role in Henry’s acquisition of the Red Sox. The 33-year-old legal phenom of the Red Sox’s front office, Treat is at the epicenter of a dynamic and singular industry — one steeped in history, high emotion and a labyrinthine regulatory system unlike any other business in America. But when she discusses why she left the life of an M&A attorney at Shearman & Sterling to become a GC, her motivations seem like the type to which many in-house counsels can relate. “I like the focus,” Treat says of working at the Red Sox. “I like the camaraderie and collegiality, being able to integrate and think more broadly about how the legal work you do fits into the business goals and agenda. “One of the things I felt — even after only being [at Shearman] for such a short period of time was that I could see sort of a formulaic-ness of doing deals,” she says. “Break everything down to its component parts, and whether it’s a $700 million deal or a $50 million deal, the component parts are the component parts. You’re sort of doing the same thing over again … Going in-house expanded opportunities and my knowledge base in a more broad direction than M&A would have given me.” For those who salivate at Treat’s good fortune for landing the Red Sox job, consider too that she didn’t start out as a baseball fan — far from it. Before working on the Marlins deal, Treat had been to exactly two baseball games in her life, she says, one a 14-inning, one-run pitchers’ duel that bored her to tears. Her first sports love is apparent from the signed and framed Lance Armstrong jersey hanging on her office wall. As a college student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Treat’s ultimate sports treat was travelling to Europe one summer to follow the Tour de France, and witnessing Greg LeMond win the event by less than a minute. So how did Treat eventually wind up at the corner of Brookline and Yawkey Way? The product of what she calls “an old school” Washington family — her uncle, Francis Wilcox, played a key role in launching NATO as the first chief of staff for the Senate Foreign Relations committee — Treat graduated Georgetown University Law Center and landed in Shearman & Sterling’s M&A unit. She says transactional law suited her personality better than other specialties. “When you grow up in this country, all you’re exposed to is litigation, in terms of your conception of what the law is and what the practice is,” she says. “My personality is much more collaborative. To be a litigator you have to like the fight. And I don’t really like the fight.” The hours were grueling, but Treat loved the intellectual component of the work. Then, after staying up three straight nights working on a deal involving Corning, Treat got a call from Creighton Condon on what was supposed to be her day off. Condon is a heavy-hitting partner in Shearman’s M&A group, and he invited Treat to work with him on a sports acquisition deal involving Henry, a wildly successful commodities trader. “The irony was that three guys more senior to me said, ‘If any sports deals came in I want to be in on it,’” she recalls. “Creighton just ignored it and said, ‘I want to work with her.’” “She was very smart, and very sophisticated in the way she approached issues,” Condon says. “She was mature beyond her years.” While many young associates get caught up in the minutiae of deals, he says, Treat possessed an ability to recognize the truly important issues while keeping an eye on the big picture goals. “It was very unusual for a junior associate.” When Henry decided to purchase the Marlins in 1999, Condon chose Treat as his senior staff. Then Condon got called away to work on two much larger deals, Treat recalls, and turned the Marlins transaction over to her. “I was technically a third-year associate — barely, by a week — and I was given the chance to basically run the deal,” she says. In the midst of negotiations, Treat decided she wanted to be a GC and landed an offer from Reuters news service. After baseball’s owners approved Henry’s bid for the Marlins, Treat told him of her plan to leave Shearman. Henry did her one better. “He said, ‘Well, do you want to move to Florida?’ And I said, totally floored, ‘Well, let me think about it,’” she says. “And I thought about it for a day, and took the job.” When Henry took over the Marlins, he identified a new stadium as key to the team’s long term financial success. The team sought a public subsidy, which meant Treat became the organization’s chief lobbyist in Tallahassee, Fla., schmoozing with state legislators to get the stadium financed. When she speaks about the merit of using tax dollars to subsidize stadium construction, Treat argues that baseball stadiums are woven into the fabric of urban life, thus bringing more people into city neighborhoods for a more sustained period of time than, say, a football stadium. And because of the limited pool of corporate sponsors in Florida, she says the $100 million-plus state subsidy made sense. In the end, the Marlins’ plan collapsed in the legislature, prompting Henry to look at what other baseball teams might be on the selling block. After considering going after the Anaheim Angels, Henry decided to join in the Red Sox bidding war instead. The Yawkey trust had decided to unload the team and New England Sports Network. Henry bought it in January 2002 for a record $700 million. Treat helped coordinate the assorted legal players on the deal, which included Condon. She compared it to working as an M&A attorney, where you must coordinate all of the experts and become a “jack of all trades.” Now, with the Red Sox, Treat is in a unique position for a Major League Baseball GC. Some ownership groups remain with the same team for an extended period of time, so their GCs have a relatively limited range of experience. But by working with Henry, Treat has gained an intimate knowledge of many of the game’s key economic drivers. Because of that experience, other MLB attorneys often call and ask for advice. However, Treat does not get involved in labor disputes, such as the recent controversy over steroid use by power hitters. She doesn’t even play a large role in contract negotiations. “I get involved in nuances, complexities,” she says. “Like when Kevin Millar was claimed off waivers, when the trade to Japan had already been planned and the deal cut with the Marlins. In that instance, Theo [Epstein] called me and said, ‘Come in and talk to me so we can get some ideas about what we’re doing’ because of the technical complexities of the transaction.” “We sign Manny [Ramirez], I’m not going to be at the table,” she adds. With an organization like the Red Sox, Treat has no shortage of firms dying for a spot on the team’s roster of outside counsel. “I philosophically believe that to get the best service you need to not be wedded to one firm, and you need to be choosing your experts,” she says. Shearman gets a piece of the partnership issues business. Other firms working for the team include Holland & Knight, Piper Rudnick and McDermott, Quilty & Miller, which fields licensing and permit issues. Bingham McCutchen previously handled much of the club’s legal work, but the firm rubbed some of the players involved in the Red Sox sale the wrong way. Treat is diplomatic about the situation, saying Bingham still handles some ongoing litigation but notes: “We need our own people.” Lately, Treat has worked on a deal to bring a minor league team to Manchester, N.H. And she acknowledges she is now a diehard baseball fan. She’s had the best seat in the house to learn how.

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