The lawyer heading King & Spalding’s representation of the committee that won the right to host Super Bowl LIII said he never imagined how many people the legal work would touch.
Justin King, a mergers and acquisitions partner, estimated 40 to 50 lawyers from his firm worked on various aspects of the matter, much of it pro bono.
King worked for nearly a year before the city’s host committee—including the Georgia World Congress Center, the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city of Atlanta—won the right to the game in 2016.
“It only got busier,” said King. He said work peaked last fall as the game crept closer on the calendar and the NFL schedule. He said he has been working with NFL lawyers, insurers at McGriff Seibels & Williams, the host committee and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, among others.
King said Friday that the coming week involved finalizing some contracts with vendors, sponsors and venues.
King said he was surprised and pleased at how many opportunities the representation provided for younger lawyers around the firm, as the committee needed counsel on issues relating to contracts, intellectual property, taxes, data privacy and corporate governance.
For example, associate Nick Brown worked with King on the bid and then left for a legal job with the New York Red Bulls soccer team and then landed back in the legal department for the Falcons. King said K&S associate Brian Park took over for Brown at the firm.
King said he and his wife will be at the game Sunday, rooting for New England, because he grew up in that area. “That’s an easy decision,” he said—though he added that he was rooting for the Falcons two years ago when the K&S client played the Patriots in that ill-fated Super Bowl.
Other Atlanta lawyers have unique perspectives of the football circus that descended on Atlanta.
Randy Kessler of Kessler & Solomiany, whose office overlooks Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Super Bowl activities in Centennial Olympic Park, has a particularly wide vantage point. But last week the New Orleans native was still recovering from attending the Saints-Rams game that could have been won by the Saints had the referees not missed a pass interference call against the Rams late in the game.
“I’m still sick,” he said. “I guess we were there for some something memorable.
Kessler’s mood brightened when he contemplated connecting with friends from the NFL Players Association, for which he gives talks to rookies to advise them on the use of prenuptial agreements and other family law issues.
The Super Bowl also gives a company he founded, Starsona, some opportunities. The company offers an app by which people can pay athletes and other celebrity friends to send birthday greetings and other messages for friends. Many of the celebrities direct their fees to charities, he said.
Kessler, who has tickets to the Super Bowl, sounded ready to put the Saints’ loss into perspective as he reminded himself that he and his family are healthy. But then he added, ”We still should have won.”
Jack Williams, a Jones Day litigation partner, is one Atlanta lawyer who knows better than anyone what it’s like to be on the field in front of thousands of screaming fans. He played in the NFL and in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, but, as a member of then-St. Louis Cardinals, he never made it to the big game.
He said he enjoyed reuniting with friends and teammates when the Super Bowl was here in 2000, but he is approaching Super Bowl 53 like a civilian.
“I wish I has something grand to tell you, but I’m going to be watching the game in my house with friends like millions of others,” he told the Daily Report by email.