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Venezia FC at its home ground, Stadio Pierluigi Penzo

On Oct. 21, Venezia F.C., the home soccer—or calcio—club for Venice, Italy, beat Florence’s Empoli F.C. 1-0 to move into a tie for first place in Serie B, the second-highest division in the Italian soccer league system after the world famous Serie A.

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Meghan Tribe

Meghan Tribe is a reporter covering the changing face of Big Law, from lateral moves and work-from-home programs to diversity initiatives. Contact her at mtribe@alm.com. On Twitter: @TribeMeghan

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<span style="font-weight: 400">On Saturday, Venezia F.C., the home soccer team for Venice, Italy, </span><a href="http://nuovavenezia.gelocal.it/venezia/cronaca/2017/10/21/news/1-0-all-empoli-venezia-balza-in-testa-alla-classifica-1.16019825"><span style="font-weight: 400">beat Florence���s Empoli F.C. 1-0</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> to move into a tie for first in Serie B, the second-highest division in the Italian soccer league system after Serie A. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">While this might not mean much for some, it means everything for John Goldman, a longtime Herrick, Feinstein partner and co-chair of its vaunted sport law practice, who sits on the soccer club���s board of directors who just last month officially left the firm to start his own business consulting practice and devote his��attention to Venezia. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">���I���m a sports guy,��� Goldman joked, ���So being part of the ownership group of a team that���s risen literally from the ashes in the last two years and is now sitting in first place in Serie B is just great.���</span> Goldman had spent his entire legal career at the New York-based Herrick, Feinstein, first joining the firm in 1987. Over his nearly 30 years at the firm, Goldman has worked on a myriad of commercial litigation deals in the sports, corporate and real estate spaces. But his entrance into Italian soccer management came as a result of his representation and friendship with prominent New York trial lawyer Joe Tacopina. <span style="font-weight: 400">Tacopina, known by some as the ���</span><a href="http://www.tacopinalaw.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Rocky Balboa of criminal defense</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">,��� had famously represented clients in high profile cases including former New York Yankee third baseman </span><a href="http://www.law.com/almID/1389632738723/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Alex Rodriguez</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">. Goldman and Herrick </span><a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:JwuELPsF7a0J:www.herrick.com/john-r-goldman/matters/+&amp;cd=2&amp;hl=en&amp;ct=clnk&amp;gl=us"><span style="font-weight: 400">were tapped as counsel</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> when the Italian-American Tacopina, along with an American consortium, purchased Italian soccer Serie A club A.S. Roma in 2011. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">Initially vice-chairman of the board of directors, Tacopina eventually transitioned to a position on the board before exiting the club in early September 2014.��</span><span style="font-weight: 400">Later that month, Tacopina purchased Bologna F.C. 1909 and in one season as club president was able to help the Northern Italian club </span><a href="http://www.espnfc.com/bologna/story/2485931/bologna-chief-joe-tacopina-hails-start-of-a-new-era"><span style="font-weight: 400">climb from Serie B to the top flight of Italian soccer</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">.</span> ���He is unbelievable at being the face of the franchise, at driving passion,��� Goldman said of Tacopina. ���I mean he went into Bologna and completely changed the attitude of the people.��� <span style="font-weight: 400">However, Tacopina���s tenure at Bologna ended unceremoniously 11 months later when he left the club following </span><a href="http://www.espnfc.com/league-name/story/2150466/headline"><span style="font-weight: 400">a rift with Canadian investor </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">Joey Saputo. The </span><a href="http://www.law.com/americanlawyer/almID/1202434840320/"><span style="font-weight: 400">former legal television personality</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> again turned to Goldman and Herrick to negotiate his exit from the club in October 2015 and then only 20 days later worked to acquire the indebted </span><a href="http://www.espnfc.com/italian-serie-a/story/2655573/us-lawyer-joe-tacopina-buys-italian-club-venezia-fc"><span style="font-weight: 400">Venezia F.C</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">���When we went to Venice it was a fourth division team [Serie D] playing in one of the most important cities on the planet,��� said Goldman, who assumed a position as director on the board of the soccer club following the completion of the purchase. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">���Our view was that every great city in Europe had at least one...world class caliber football club and Venice needed to have one and we were going to make that happen,��� Goldman said.��</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">Venezia F.C. hadnt won a big title since 1941 and was exiting its third bankruptcy at the time of Tacopinas purchase in 2015,��but the new owners were confident in their odds.��</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">���Little did we know when we said that that no team in Italian football history in 60 years has done that, but we did it,��� Goldman said. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400">By the end of the 2015/16, Venezia had gained promotion to Serie C, or Lega Pro. Ahead of the 2016/17 season, the team hired AC Milan and Juventus legend </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filippo_Inzaghi"><span style="font-weight: 400">Filippo </span><span style="font-weight: 400">Inzaghi</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> as manager, which was followed by another championship win and promotion to Serie B.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">In addition to strategic moves on the pitch, the club��reconfigured its business and rebranded its image which included a new crest with an open-mouthed lion, a symbol of the city���s patron saint St. Mark the Evangelist, that </span><a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2696920-all-hail-the-monster-of-war-joe-tacopinas-romantic-vision-for-venezia"><span style="font-weight: 400">Tacopino described to Bleacher Report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> as emulating an aggressive ���Get the f--k out or well kill you" message to all its opposition.�� All of these changes, as well as future new stadium build-out for the club, are a part of the owners mission to craft Venezia F.C. into a global brand that could be easily recognizable by any of the millions of tourists that pour through Venice each year.��</span> ���It���s an amazing city has a tremendous tourist component to it which helps us to be able to really be able to build a global brand around our team [and] that was part of what caused me to kind of pull the plug on being a full-time lawyer at a law firm,��� Goldman said, who currently still resides mainly stateside in Connecticut. While Goldman still has a strong affinity his former firm, colleagues, and practice, it was the changing face of the practice of law that��made him reevaluate his career path and ultimately��was one of the factors that led to him leaving Herrick. ���I think that I was incredibly lucky to grow up at a place like Herrick and the people who I learned from when I was a young lawyer were terrific lawyers but they were also really, really good mentors,��� Goldman said. ���[However,] I think that the profession has moved away from that sort of attitude for younger people to one that is more like, ���Well you know they���re fungible, they can come and go,��� [and] it���s all about money,��� he added. <span style="font-weight: 400">This attitude, Goldman said, was no longer what he wanted for himself so left to focus on Venezia, but also form his own business consulting firm JRG Business Solutions Corp., which he said will work with families and businesses in divorce disputes in addition to other business consulting services.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">���I don���t ever want to bill by the hour again,��� Goldman said. ���I want to actually get compensated for successfully helping a client do what they want to do rather than just spinning the wheel.���</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">But as for right now, Goldman���s main focus is on building the Venezia brand and keeping his and Tacopina���s promise to their club���s faithful.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400">���Right now the people of Venice and area and the global fans of our football club are counting on us to build this team and to get to Serie A to get to Champions League and to be successful and to build a global brand and that���s our mission,��� Goldman said. ��</span> <

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