Mark S. Levinstein: Partner with Williams & Connolly, LLP, and Co-author of Sports Law: Cases and Materials by LawCrossing


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   LAW STAR                                                                                        1. 800.973.1177

                            Mark S. Levinstein: Partner with Williams & Connolly, LLP,
                            and Co-author of Sports Law: Cases and Materials
                            [By Kenneth Davis]
                            Mark Levinstein, a partner with Williams & Connolly, LLP, in Washington, DC, said that he has wanted to be a lawyer
                            since he was 12 and that he was inspired by his grandfather to enter the legal field.

“My dad was a scientist,” he said. “When I          Levinstein said that there were very few            Levinstein said he kept a very low profile
said, ‘Should I be a scientist?’ my dad said,       books that covered sports law at the time,          during the Kerrigan case because he did not
‘You aren’t really interested in science.           so he did a Lexis search for all the antitrust      feel it would be in his client’s best interest
You don’t take things apart and put them            cases involving sports.                             for the media to focus on her attorney. He
together.’ And it was my grandfather; he was                                                            said he refused when Kerrigan’s agent asked
a lawyer and seemed to help people. Kids            “I read them and tried to make sense of             him to appear on Larry King Live.
today don’t have any clue what they want to         them, so that one day when somebody
do, but I always wanted to be a lawyer.”            came along, I’d know what was going                 “We didn’t want anything in the papers
                                                    on,” he explained. “And then I handled a            about Nancy Kerrigan having a lawyer,” he
Levinstein stuck to his career plan and has         couple of big cases that involved sports and        said. “As soon as someone says that Nancy
had a successful law practice for 23 years.         antitrust, including a four-year case involving     Kerrigan has a lawyer, there would be
He handles civil and criminal matters, and          professional tennis.”                               speculation about who she is going to sue.
his practice covers a wide range of areas,                                                              Nancy Kerrigan was a skater with an agent
including antitrust, arbitration, commercial        After that, Levinstein’s sports practice took       who got hurt. She was just a victim and did
litigation, franchise law, intellectual             off. And over the past years, he has handled        nothing wrong.”
property, trademark, false advertising, and         a broad spectrum of sports-related cases.
unfair competition, labor law, and RICO. In         His sports clients run the gamut from               “The key is to focus on your client and decide
addition, he has a thriving sports law practice     professional athletes, players associations,        what’s in your client’s best interest,” he
representing a number of high-profile               sports teams, and owners to leagues                 explained. “Was it in my best interest to be
clients. However, Levinstein didn’t initially       and league properties, Olympic athletes,            in the media all the time as Nancy Kerrigan’s
set out to become a sports lawyer.                  organizations, amateur athletes, sports             lawyer? Maybe. But that wasn’t in her best
                                                    associations, and boxing managers and               interest, and we didn’t do it.”
“When I came to the firm, it was to do              promoters, among many others. His sports
litigation, generally with a focus on               cases have involved professional baseball,          Levinstein also represents all the members
antitrust,” he said. “It never was to be a          basketball, football, golf, tennis, skiing,         of the U.S. National Soccer Team.
sports lawyer. But the firm was founded by          volleyball, boxing, fastpitch softball, golf,
Edward Bennett Williams, who was probably           hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, wrestling, and        “I unionized them in 996,” he said. “They
the most famous trial lawyer of the 970s           many more sports.                                   were the first national team to become a
and 80s. And he also owned the [Baltimore]                                                              union, and I’ve represented them for ten
Orioles and part of the [Washington]                In addition, he has represented a number            years.”
Redskins. So as a summer associate here, I          of famous athletes, including figure skater
saw that our firm had a lot of sports-related       Nancy Kerrigan. Levinstein was Kerrigan’s           Cyclist Lance Armstrong is also one of
litigation. I knew there were a lot of sports       attorney during the infamous knee-                  Levinstein’s clients. Levinstein recently
antitrust cases, and so I figured, Well, one of     clubbing incident back in 994, when rival          represented the seven-time Tour de France
these days the boss is going to walk in and         skater Tonya Harding allegedly conspired            champion when a French newspaper alleged
say, ‘Okay, you know a lot about antitrust, but     to have Kerrigan injured to prevent her             that he had used EPO, a performance-
do you know about sports antitrust?’”               from competing in the U.S. Figure Skating           enhancing drug, during the 999 Tour de
                                                    Championships.                                      France. Armstrong was later cleared of all

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   LAW STAR                                                                                   1. 800.973.1177

accusations that he used any performance-        “There was a character on Star Trek: The           District of Massachusetts. Judge Garrity was
enhancing drugs during the race.                 Next Generation named Deanna Troi, and             widely recognized for implementing “forced
                                                 she was an empath,” he said. “She could            busing” at Boston-area schools in an effort
Additionally, Levinstein and his colleagues      take your pain or your stress or whatever          to battle segregation in 974. Levinstein
represented the Los Angeles Rams when the        unpleasant emotion you were experiencing.          clerked for Garrity for a year; he then joined
team moved to St. Louis in 994.                 She would touch you and absorb all the bad         Williams & Connolly in September of 983
                                                 emotions and suffer for you. That’s what a         and has been with the firm ever since.
“We were the lawyers for the Rams,               lawyer does sometimes. A client comes in
convincing the league that they didn’t want      with terrible stress and a major problem,          In addition to practicing sports law,
to have an antitrust lawsuit,” he said. The      and then it becomes your problem, too. And         Levinstein writes about it. He coauthored a
league decided to let the Rams relocate.         you do the best you can to take responsibility     sports law casebook titled Sports Law: Cases
                                                 for the problem, so it no longer troubles your     and Materials with Michael J. Cozzillio, a law
Levinstein said that he and his colleagues       client to the same extent.”                        professor at Widener University School of
represent a number of teams attempting to                                                           Law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The book
relocate.                                        He added that good attorneys don’t always          was published by Carolina Academic Press
                                                 rush their clients into litigation; they discuss   in 997, and Levinstein said that he and
He also serves as outside counsel for the        the pros and cons before they move ahead           Cozzillio are currently working on a second
U.S. Olympic Committee and represented the       with any kind of action.                           edition.
Arena Football League players for a couple
of years in a labor and antitrust dispute        “Clients often come to see their lawyer and        Levinstein has taught as an adjunct professor
against the Arena Football League.               want to sue somebody, and it may be your           of antitrust law, sports law, and advanced
                                                 job to advise them not to file the lawsuit,”       antitrust at Columbus School of Law at
Levinstein discussed what’s involved in          he said. “We take them through the pros            The Catholic University of America, George
becoming a sports lawyer:                        and cons of litigation and what would be           Washington University National Law Center,
                                                 involved—what it would cost, to what extent        and Georgetown University Law Center. He
“Basically what makes someone a sports           it would cause non-financial costs, what           stopped teaching full courses in 999, but he
lawyer is that you have a client in the sports   relief they could reasonably seek, what is the     still teaches classes occasionally and said
industry, and he or she comes to you and         probability of success, how long it could take     he may return to teaching courses again
has a legal problem,” he said. “And then you     to take the matter to completion, and what         in a few years, once his children are off to
could say you’re a sports lawyer. It could be    the client would have to endure for the next       college.
a criminal case, it could be tax, it could be    year or several years. And we say, ‘Would
intellectual property, it could be labor law,    our firm get paid if we sue them for you? Of       He said law professors apply many of the
and so on.”                                      course, but we do not want to do something         same skills they need in court when they
                                                 that’s not in the client’s best interest. We       teach.
Levinstein said he likes to keep up-to-date      have plenty of work to do, and we do not need
on what’s happening in the sports fields         to take money for handling matters that are        “When you’re a trial lawyer, you’re talking to
with which his clients are affiliated so he      not in our clients’ best interests.’ Part of       judges, and you’re discussing and explaining
can represent them more effectively. For         what your clients are paying you for, even if      legal issues in the subject of the case, and
instance, one of his clients was the Royal       they do not know it, is for you to advise them     in many ways, it involves the same skills as
and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and        not to get involved in litigation when it’s not    being a law professor,” he said. “You need
even though he’s not a golfer, he subscribed     in their best interest to do so and they can       to learn how not to be condescending, to
to eight different golf magazines to stay        reasonably avoid it.”                              acknowledge that others may have different
apprised of what was going on in the golf                                                           views; you need to learn how to explain a
world in order to better serve his client.       Levinstein majored in economics at the             complex legal subject when you have more
                                                 University of Virginia and graduated with          familiarity with it than the judge or your
He said that two big parts of a lawyer’s job     honors in 979. He went on to earn his law         students. That does not mean that you are
are helping clients deal with all aspects of     degree, also with honors, from Harvard Law         smarter than your students or the judge—you
their problems and taking responsibility         School in 982. After law school, he worked        have just thought about the issues more than
for solving those problems, to the extent        as a law clerk for Judge W. Arthur Garrity,        they have, and you have to try to persuade
possible.                                        Jr., of the United States District Court for the   the judge and have to teach students how

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   LAW STAR                                                                                    1. 800.973.1177

to be persuasive when they address a legal       “We were just granted public charity status       “When I interview applicants, I always tell
subject. You present your viewpoint (or two      last week,” he said. “So we have been             them in law school to make the most of
or more conflicting viewpoints) about what       dealing with tax issues, business planning        it,” he said. “Take all the basic subjects.
the cases say or what the law is in a way        issues, and a host of corporate governance        You can take ‘Shakespeare and the Law’ or
that persuasively argues for your side or        issues.”                                          other enjoyable courses that will entertain
helps the student understand the various                                                           you, but I recommend that they take tax,
sides without the students feeling like you’re   Levinstein said what he enjoys most about         corporate tax, labor law, and other courses
talking down to them.”                           practicing law is that he’s able to help people   that provide an overview of an entire area of
                                                 get through difficult situations.                 law; make the most of the opportunity to take
Levinstein said the two people who                                                                 a course with a professor who is an expert
influenced him the most before he came to        “People come into my office with a problem,       on the subject, and he or she can give you
Williams & Connolly were Professor Kenneth       and often I think I can solve their problem       an overview about the subject and many of
Elzinga, an economics professor at the           better than anybody else there is,” he said.      the insights the professor has discovered in
University of Virginia, and Phillip Areeda,      “And so there’s nothing that makes me feel        many years of study—that sort of experience
who was the leading academic treatise and        better than to hear a client’s problem and,       and expertise can benefit you for many years
casebook writer in antitrust law. Elzinga        as I listen, think I have the solution. People    to come as you practice law.”
was Levinstein’s undergraduate advisor at        come in sometimes not knowing if they’re
the University of Virginia; he met Areeda        gonna go to jail or they’re gonna be sued or      ON THE NET
at Harvard Law School and worked as his          they’re gonna lose their business or house.
research assistant for many years, both          So if you can evaluate their situation, apply     Williams & Connolly, LLP
during and after law school.                     your knowledge of the facts and the law, and
                                                 tell them that it won’t be as bad as they fear,
                                                                                                   University of Virginia
Levinstein said one of the projects he’s         that’s already a huge benefit to the client.
currently working on is helping some of the      Practicing law is all about helping people.
athletes he represents create a charitable       It’s a personal service business, and people
                                                                                                   Harvard Law School
foundation. The foundation is called Athletes    often forget that.”
For Hope, and some of the athletes involved
include Lance Armstrong, Andre Agassi,           Levinstein had the following advice for law
Mia Hamm, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-          students:
Kersee, and Alonzo Mourning.


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