SAN DIEGO – Maidie Oliveau, a highly respected, veteran sports attorney in Arent Fox’s Los Angeles office, was honored with the Woman Sports Lawyer Award at the 2012 Sports Lawyers Association (SLA) conference in San Diego on Saturday, May 12. The day before, she served as the moderator of a plenary session that addressed the “Olympic Games as a Showcase,” drawing on her years of experience working with the organizing committee for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the United States Olympic Committee, various Olympic sports, as an American Arbitration Association sports arbitrator and with a group of arbitrators from around the world on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the ad hoc division of the CAS during four Olympic Games. The only woman and the only American to serve in this capacity, she has again been tapped by CAS for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“Thirty years ago, Maidie blazed a trail for women who wanted to specialize in sports law, which was traditionally a male-dominated practice,” said Rick Guggolz, executive director of the SLA. “This award recognizes her outstanding achievements in representing professional sports teams, leagues, owners of sports and entertainment facilities and events, individual athletes, Internet video providers, and more, as well as for her dedication to serving various courts as an international arbitrator for sports industry disputes worldwide.”
There were very few women sports lawyers in the early days of the SLA, certainly none with Maidie’s depth and breadth of experience, which surpassed that of many men. By 2011, the number of women and their proficiency in serving the industry had grown to the point that the SLA decided to introduce the Woman Sports Lawyer Award.
This year, a committee of six SLA members representing various sports entities, headed by Jessica Berman of the National Hockey League, chose to honor Maidie who is only the second award recipient. Nike counsel Stephanie Vardavas presented the award and recalled her first negotiations with Maidie when she represented MasterCard and Stephanie was at Major League Baseball. She noted that Maidie was not just one of the first women to work in sports, but one of the first attorneys, male or female, to do so for over 30 years.
Other industry professionals who attended the award ceremony and told stories about Maidie’s contributions over the years included: Kenneth Shropshire (professor and director, Wharton Sports Business Initiative), Roger Kaplan (NBA arbitrator), Jeffrey Gewirtz (New Jersey Nets general counsel), Robert Hacker (FOX Sports Media Group, counsel), Maureen Weston (Pepperdine Law Professor), Vered Yakovee (USC Law Adjunct Professor), Libba Galloway (former LPGA general counsel) and Leah Tuffanelli (MATCH Services AG, business advisor).
A highly skilled negotiator, Maidie represents clients in licensing transactions including naming rights, sponsorships, acquisitions and grants of television rights, talent and service agreements, and event-related and merchandising rights. She also provides assistance with trademark protection issues and counsels a wide range of sports entities on industry specific legal issues.
Maidie joined Arent Fox in July 2009, having established LawSports, a boutique firm in Los Angeles, in 1990. Previously, she served as senior vice president and general counsel to DelWilber + Associates (DWA), where she worked on activation of sponsorship contract commitments and handled the firm’s general legal affairs. She came to DWA from the Women’s International Professional Tennis Council (now the WTA Tour) where she was managing director. Prior to that she was part of the team that organized the highly successful Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984.
Much in demand as a public speaker, Maidie also serves on the editorial board of the ABA’s Entertainment and Sports Lawyer and is the vice chair of the ABA’s Entertainment and Sports Forum. She graduated with a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
About Arent Fox:
Arent Fox LLP (www.arentfox.com), with offices in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and New York is a recognized leader in areas including election law, complex litigation, intellectual property, real estate, telecommunications, health care, automotive, sports, white collar, international trade, and bankruptcy. With more than 350 lawyers nationwide, Arent Fox has extensive experience in corporate securities, financial restructuring, government relations, labor and employment, finance, tax, and corporate compliance.