Lauren Brock: Demonstrates a non-traditional path and tenacity can lead to rewarding success

Ms. Brock joined the LA Clippers in April 2021 as Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs, and was promoted to Associate General Counsel in November 2021. As AGC, Ms. Brock provides legal advice to the team on a variety of matters including sponsorship, marketing, entertainment/IP, labor and employment, and data privacy. She negotiates and drafts various agreements across all the Clippers’ business operations segments, including marketing, promotions, production, ticketing, merchandising, game entertainment, communications, HR, and the Clippers Community Foundation, and works with outside counsel on litigation matters.

Prior to working for the Clippers, Ms. Brock was an associate attorney at Donaldson, Callif & Perez, a leading boutique entertainment law firm, where she represented television and film producers in various stages of production, focusing primarily on film financing, development, and production legal services. Prior to joining DC & P, Ms. Brock was an associate for the Law Offices of Howard Jacobs, where she worked extensively on matters of doping and sexual abuse within the Olympic sport movement and professional sports leagues. She also served as host and moderator of the “Women in Sports Law” panel for Southwestern’s Biederman Institute, and is a member of the Sports Lawyers’ Association. While in law school, Ms. Brock externed with Lionsgate Television and Wasserman Media Group and Sports Agency.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Ms. Brock spent over a decade working in unscripted television casting and production, traveling the world and overseeing all manner of talent and production agreements for shows such as “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” It was there that her love of the excitement and non-stop pace of production and live events was born.

Lauren grew up in Buffalo, NY, and attended Buffalo Seminary for high school. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in business from the University of Rochester, and she earned her law degree at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude from Southwestern’s SCALE 2-year accelerated program and served as a member of the Entertainment and Media Arts Law Clinic and Sports Law Society, as Executive Dean’s Fellow, Teaching Assistant, and SCALE Ambassador. Lauren is now an Adjunct Professor for the SCALE Externship Program.

Ms. Brock lives in Marina del Rey with her daughter. It was an honor to interview Ms. Brock. Ms. Brock is a role model for all girls and women looking to shatter the glass ceiling in the world of sports. I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you about your experiences and to learn from your path. Thank you, Ms. Brock, for this very memorable opportunity.

Q: What does a typical day look like for an Associate General Counsel?

A: “Every sports team attorney will say there is no such thing as a “typical day.” I usually start my day with a list of agreements to review and draft, emails to send and calls to make, but then the day will get hijacked by a firestorm and I won’t get to my to-do list until 7pm. That is not every day though – some days are normal.  On the normal days, I am attending different meetings, I am on calls with the sponsorship team and many other departments. My “clients” are the other departments in the company, including HR, game entertainment, IT, and ticketing. I also deal with our vendors and  outside counsel. I get brought into anything that could have legal implications, either immediately or down the road.”

Q: What are your favorite agreements to negotiate for the Clippers?

A: “I really like the performer and game entertainment agreements (such as agreements for half-time performances, social media contracts and production agreements) because of my entertainment background . I like all agreements, but the technology and data agreements are probably my least favorite. But data privacy is such a big issue, especially in California, so they are among the most important agreements that I work on.”

Q: Is there something about your responsibilities that others might find surprising or unusual?

A: “Our organization is split into two different sides –  basketball operations and business operations. Because I work strictly on the business side, I don’t work on anything with the players, which is usually the first question that people ask. My daughter was really confused by this, because how can I work for a basketball team but not work with the players? So I explained to her what I did as we sat watching a game once. I told her that I worked on everything  she saw in the arena except the players, including the promotions, the signs on the jumbotron, the performances (our Spirit dancers, our Hoop Troop, the halftime acts, etc.), the uniforms, and all of the vendors, just to name a few. Most people just see the players, but I do the things most people don’t see .”

Q: How did your time working for unscripted television casting and production influence you to pursue a career in sports law?

A: “When I first decided to go to law school, I thought I would go into entertainment law because I had been working in production for so long, and working with unscripted television attorneys, and I felt comfortable in that space and I had lots of connections. I loved working on “Survivor” and “Amazing Race”. Unscripted television was non-stop 24/7, and it was very exciting and inspiring So I was lucky enough to  intern at Lionsgate in their unscripted television department during my first law school summer. But I also had to take a class that summer, and the only class available was Sports Law. I was amazed by the breadth of legal issues in sports law. A lot of the legal issues were the same as entertainment law, like licensing and IP, but there were so many more issues, like labor and employment, real estate, criminal law, torts and technology. The part of entertainment I really liked was taking part in the production of a live event. Sporting events gave me the opportunity to take part in something even more exciting, and  also be a part of something with so many varied interesting and challenging legal issues.”

Q: What was the most important or influential class you took during law school?

A: “Sports Law, of course. I took two sports law classes while at law school, and both classes helped me to prepare for this career in so many ways – one class was with the former General Counsel of the Oakland Raiders who had the most amazing stories about Al Davis and the ‘80s and ‘90s Raiders. He really opened my eyes to the different issues that can arise in sports law, such as personal injury and antitrust. He taught us the reasons behind why the language on the back of an admission ticket reads the way it does, and why there are nets behind home plate in baseball. I also took an Amateur Sports Law class from Howard Jacobs, who gave me my first legal job. He also introduced me to Alanna Frisby Hernandez, who works at Wasserman and hired me for my second law school internship. She has been an incredible mentor and friend to me, as is Hayley Hughes, my internship boss at Lionsgate. I was so fortunate to have two amazing female bosses and role models who helped me so much in navigating my career the first few years after law school, and who remain close friends to this day..”

Q: When you graduated law school, what type of career did you aspire to?

A: “By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to work in sports, but sports law jobs are scarce, and I was so fortunate to be offered a job with Howard Jacobs because it was an amazing opportunity to practice in the sports field, right out of law school.”

Q: How did your work at Donaldson, Callif & Perez and at the Law Office of Howard Jacobs prepare you to become Associate General Counsel for the Clippers?

A: “During my time with Howard Jacobs, I got to work closely with athletes, coaches, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the US Center for Safe Sport, and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). I had the opportunity to learn about doping and sexual assault investigations. Howard taught me how to do an investigation, and how to arbitrate. It also gave me a good introduction to international basketball. It was good exposure into the sports world in a slightly non-traditional path. During my time at Donaldson, I did all transactional work. I was working on drafting and negotiating tons of entertainment agreements such as production, IP, financing, and above and below the line deals with studios, networks, and production companies. I was learning how to communicate with opposing counsel, and d how to negotiate heavily negotiated agreements  with parties like Netflix. One of the partners that I worked closely with, Julie Philips, really helped me and taught me the finer points of contract drafting and negotiation that I use in my everyday practice. I am very lucky because I have had amazing mentors and bosses.”

Q: What was the most significant point in your career?

A: “Getting the Clippers job. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer at a team, but there are so few positions and it’s so competitive, I never really thought I had a chance. I always knew that this fed into what I loved and what I was good at. I wanted to be part of making this organization great. I enjoy working on something that is bigger than me. I am now part of this really cool operation. . I even like the unglamorous and unsexy parts of the job, like risk management and insurance, because it’s an opportunity to take part in something that is bigger than me.”

Q: Can you share with us your favorite team(s)?

A: “For basketball, it is the Clippers (obviously). I would say that even if I didn’t work there, because the Clippers are the less glamourous, lesser-known LA team. I love underdog teams with lots of heart, and this is the Clippers. Fun little hometown fact: the Clippers actually started out in Buffalo as the Buffalo Braves! They moved to San Diego and became the San Diego Clippers, then ultimately to LA. I am also a lifelong fan of the Buffalo Bills. During this year’s Super Bowl, I rooted for the Bengals over the Rams because just like the Bills, they were the scrappy underdog from a small-ish town. LA had a lot of big names from a big city. I always pick the underdog.”

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job? What do you find most challenging?

A: “The most rewarding part of my job is sitting in the arena with my daughter and showing her all of the things that I worked on. Even though no one else will notice, it’s nice to know that I played a part in all the big and little things that people may never notice but that help make the games happen, like all of our sponsorships, the marketing and promotional things we do like t-shirts and LED bands, working with our Spirit dance team, supporting community events, or even just drafting an agreement to allow Nicki Minaj to launch her new song at one of our games. It’s so rewarding to play a part in support of the players, the coaches, and all our staff. The most challenging part of my job right now is probably having to keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of NFT’s, cryptocurrencies and the metaverse. It’s an exciting and riveting genre, but I need to learn more about it.”

Q: How do you think we get more women involved in careers in sports?

A: “We keep doing what you have been doing: hosting and attending panels, networking, connecting through different avenues such as through law school. But it’s also really important to talk with women who are working in careers in sports so that we can keep creating opportunities for other women. We need women helping women. The Clippers organization is about 50% female, which is a wonderful thing, our President of Business Operations is a woman. It’s important to get more women into the higher positions, but it’s equally important to get more women into lower positions as well, to bring up through the ranks.”

Q: What is some advice that you would give to young girls or women aspiring for a career in professional sports?

A: “Every pro sports team and league has internships. Also, we have Game Night Staff, the people who work at the games, tossing t-shirts into the stands, or helping move props and gear for halftime performances, which may not be the most glamorous job, and it’s a lot of hard work, but it can be a lot of fun and a great way to get into the sports industry. I know several people who started their sports careers in that position. It’s a great way to learn the business hands on, build connections and possibly turn it into a permanent position. It’s important to also explore sports-related businesses outside of professional teams that partner with teams, such as apparel or sneaker companies, or large brands such as Coca Cola or Pepsi, car companies, insurance companies, and different local health care providers. There are also opportunities to work in sports through working for a university athletic department, a minor league team, or a national governing body of sport.”

Q:  Is there any other aspect of your career path that I have not asked about that you would like to share?

A: “I think it’s important that people know that there is no “right” path. Regardless of the career you want, getting where you want to go doesn’t mean you have to go the right schools, or know the right people, or have inside access to the right internships or jobs. All it takes is hard work and the confidence to put yourself out there to try and connect with the people who are where you want to go, and ask for help. I was in my 40’s when I went back to law school, I had already had more than one career, and I didn’t go to a top tier school, but I went to the right school for me, and they were able to provide me with the support and guidance I needed to succeed in 2 years. I was able to use my entertainment connections to meet people like Hayley at Lionsgate, and I basically stalked Alanna at Wasserman until she hired me as her intern, and they both helped get me where I needed to go. I spoke up and participated (probably too much) in Howard Jacobs’ class and he ended up hiring me for my first attorney job. Not to be cliché, but anything is possible if you put in the effort – I am living proof. And for the slightly older folks out there – just know that it’s never too late.”

Thank you so much, Ms. Brock, for this wonderful opportunity. Your empathy and hard work is infectious and I know it will inspire many young girls and women to pursue their dream career. Thank you for all you have done to help pave the way for other women and girls looking to get into a career in sports and entertainment.

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