For sports teams and their in-house lawyers, the stakes just keep getting higher and higher.On a Monday night last September, David Donovan found himself sharing a skybox with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Snyder had just hired the former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner as the team’s general counsel, and the two were in high spirits. As the Skins edged out the Dallas Cowboys, Snyder grabbed Donovan’s jacket and crowed, “Beats asbestos lawsuits, doesn’t it?”

Richard Cass, the former head of Wilmer’s corporate practice, had a similar transformation. After engineering a buyout for Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in 2004, Cass accepted Bisciotti’s invitation to become team president. Now he sits at a desk cluttered with contracts, but with a view directly onto the Ravens’ practice field.

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