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

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

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Published by RogerCroft

Mark S. Levinstein is a partner and Co-author of Sports Law Cases and Materials with Williams and Connolly, LLP.

Mark S. Levinstein is a partner and Co-author of Sports Law Cases and Materials with Williams and Connolly, LLP.

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Published by: RogerCroft on Feb 06, 2013
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1. 800.973.1177
continued on back
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 lawyersince he was 12 and that he was inspired by his grandfather to enter the legal field.
“My dad was a scientist,” he said. “When Isaid, ‘Should I be a scientist?’ my dad said,‘You aren’t really interested in science.You don’t take things apart and put themtogether.’ And it was my grandfather; he wasa lawyer and seemed to help people. Kidstoday don’t have any clue what they want todo, but I always wanted to be a lawyer.”Levinstein stuck to his career plan and hashad asuccessful lawpractice for 23 years.He handles civil and criminal matters, andhis practice covers a wide range of areas,including antitrust, arbitration, commerciallitigation, franchise law, intellectualproperty, trademark, false advertising, andunfair competition, labor law, and RICO. Inaddition, he has a thriving sports law practicerepresenting a number of high-profileclients. However, Levinstein didn’t initiallyset out to become a sports lawyer.“When I came to the firm, it was to dolitigation, generally with a focus onantitrust,” he said. “It never was to be asports lawyer. But the firm was founded byEdward Bennett Williams, who was probablythe most famous trial lawyer of the 970sand 80s. And he also owned the [Baltimore]Orioles and part of the [Washington]Redskins. So as a summer associate here, Isaw that our firm had a lot of sports-relatedlitigation. I knew there were a lot of sportsantitrust cases, and so I figured,
Well, one of these days the boss is going to walk in and say, ‘Okay, you know a lot about antitrust, but do you know about sports antitrust?’” 
Levinstein said that there were very fewbooks that covered sports law at the time,so he did a Lexis search for all the antitrustcases involving sports. “I read them and tried to make sense ofthem, so that one day when somebodycame along, I’d know what was goingon,” he explained. “And then I handled acouple of big cases that involved sports andantitrust, including a four-year case involvingprofessional tennis.”After that, Levinstein’s sports practice tookoff. And over the past years, he has handleda broad spectrum of sports-related cases.His sports clients run the gamut fromprofessional athletes, players associations,sports teams, and owners to leaguesand league properties, Olympic athletes,organizations, amateur athletes, sportsassociations, and boxing managers andpromoters, among many others. His sportscases have involved professional baseball,basketball, football, golf, tennis, skiing,volleyball, boxing, fastpitch softball, golf,hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, wrestling, andmany more sports.In addition, he has represented a numberof famous athletes, including figure skaterNancy Kerrigan. Levinstein was Kerrigan’sattorney during the infamous knee-clubbing incident back in 994, when rivalskater Tonya Harding allegedly conspiredto have Kerrigan injured to prevent herfrom competing in the U.S. Figure SkatingChampionships.Levinstein said he kept a very low profileduring the Kerrigan case because he did notfeel it would be in his client’s best interestfor the media to focus on her attorney. Hesaid he refused when Kerrigan’s agent askedhim to appear on
Larry King Live 
.“We didn’t want anything in the papersabout Nancy Kerrigan having a lawyer,” hesaid. “As soon as someone says that NancyKerrigan has a lawyer, there would bespeculation about who she is going to sue.Nancy Kerrigan was a skater with an agentwho got hurt. She was just a victim and didnothing wrong.”“The key is to focus on your client and decidewhat’s in your client’s best interest,” heexplained. “Was it in my best interest to bein the media all the time as Nancy Kerrigan’slawyer? Maybe. But that wasn’t in her bestinterest, and we didn’t do it.”Levinstein also represents all the membersof the U.S. National Soccer Team.“I unionized them in 996,” he said. “Theywere the first national team to become aunion, and I’ve represented them for tenyears.”Cyclist Lance Armstrong is also one ofLevinstein’s clients. Levinstein recentlyrepresented the seven-time Tour de Francechampion when a French newspaper allegedthat he had used EPO, a performance-enhancing drug, during the 999 Tour deFrance. Armstrong was later cleared of all
1. 800.973.1177
accusations that he used any performance-enhancing drugs during the race.Additionally, Levinstein and his colleaguesrepresented the Los Angeles Rams when theteam moved to St. Louis in 994.“We were the lawyers for the Rams,convincing the league that they didn’t wantto have an antitrust lawsuit,” he said. Theleague decided to let the Rams relocate.Levinstein said that he and his colleaguesrepresent a number of teams attempting torelocate.He also serves as outside counsel for theU.S. Olympic Committee and represented theArena Football League players for a coupleof years in a labor and antitrust disputeagainst the Arena Football League.Levinstein discussed what’s involved inbecoming a sports lawyer:“Basically what makes someone a sportslawyer is that you have a client in the sportsindustry, and he or she comes to you andhas a legal problem,” he said. “And then youcould say you’re a sports lawyer. It could bea criminal case, it could be tax, it could beintellectual property, it could be labor law,and so on.”Levinstein said he likes to keep up-to-dateon what’s happening in the sports fieldswith which his clients are affiliated so hecan represent them more effectively. Forinstance, one of his clients was the Royaland Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, andeven though he’s not a golfer, he subscribedto eight different golf magazines to stayapprised of what was going on in the golfworld in order to better serve his client.He said that two big parts of a lawyer’s jobare helping clients deal with all aspects oftheir problems and taking responsibilityfor solving those problems, to the extentpossible.“There was a character on
Star Trek: The Next Generation 
named Deanna Troi, andshe was an empath,” he said. “She couldtake your pain or your stress or whateverunpleasant emotion you were experiencing.She would touch you and absorb all the bademotions and suffer for you. That’s what alawyer does sometimes. A client comes inwith terrible stress and a major problem,and then it becomes your problem, too. Andyou do the best you can to take responsibilityfor the problem, so it no longer troubles yourclient to the same extent.”He added that good attorneys don’t alwaysrush their clients into litigation; they discussthe pros and cons before they move aheadwith any kind of action.“Clients often come to see their lawyer andwant to sue somebody, and it may be your job to advise them not to file the lawsuit,”he said. “We take them through the prosand cons of litigation and what would beinvolved—what it would cost, to what extentit would cause non-financial costs, whatrelief they could reasonably seek, what is theprobability of success, how long it could taketo take the matter to completion, and whatthe client would have to endure for the nextyear or several years. And we say, ‘Wouldour firm get paid if we sue them for you? Ofcourse, but we do not want to do somethingthat’s not in the client’s best interest. Wehave plenty of work to do, and we do not needto take money for handling matters that arenot in our clients’ best interests.’ Part ofwhat your clients are paying you for, even ifthey do not know it, is for you to advise themnot to get involved in litigation when it’s notin their best interest to do so and they canreasonably avoid it.”Levinstein majored in economics at theUniversity of Virginia and graduated withhonors in 979. He went on to earn his lawdegree, also with honors, from Harvard LawSchool in 982. After law school, he workedas a law clerk for Judge W. Arthur Garrity,Jr., of the United States District Court for theDistrict of Massachusetts. Judge Garrity waswidely recognized for implementing “forcedbusing” at Boston-area schools in an effortto battle segregation in 974. Levinsteinclerked for Garrity for a year; he then joinedWilliams & Connolly in September of 983and has been with the firm ever since.In addition to practicing sports law,Levinstein writes about it. He coauthored asports law casebook titled
Sports Law: Cases and Materials 
with Michael J. Cozzillio, a lawprofessor at Widener University School ofLaw in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The bookwas published by Carolina Academic Pressin 997, and Levinstein said that he andCozzillio are currently working on a secondedition.Levinstein has taught as an adjunct professorof antitrust law, sports law, and advancedantitrust at Columbus School of Law atThe Catholic University of America, GeorgeWashington University National Law Center,and Georgetown University Law Center. Hestopped teaching full courses in 999, but hestill teaches classes occasionally and saidhe may return to teaching courses againin a few years, once his children are off tocollege.He said law professors apply many of thesame skills they need in court when theyteach.“When you’re a trial lawyer, you’re talking to judges, and you’re discussing and explaininglegal issues in the subject of the case, andin many ways, it involves the same skills asbeing a law professor,” he said. “You needto learn how not to be condescending, toacknowledge that others may have differentviews; you need to learn how to explain acomplex legal subject when you have morefamiliarity with it than the judge or yourstudents. That does not mean that you aresmarter than your students or the judge—youhave just thought about the issues more thanthey have, and you have to try to persuadethe judge and have to teach students how

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