W. Stuart Dornette, co-chairman of the litigation practice at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, flew to Los Angeles from Cincinnati on Thursday to attend Super Bowl LVI.
But Dornette didn’t fly commercially from Cincinnati. He and several law firm colleagues took one of several flights chartered by the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League, who are scheduled to face the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s big game.
“They offered each employee a few tickets, transportation and accommodations,” said Dornette, a veteran attorney who called the occasion a momentous occasion in the 45 years he was a key legal advisor to the Bengals. Another lawyer for Taft drafted the team’s incorporation documents in 1967, Dornette said, a year before the club entered the field.
The franchise belongs to mike brownHarvard Law School graduate who inherited the franchise from his Hall of Fame football coach father Paul Brown. Mike Brown’s daughter, Katherine Blackburn, is a Bengals executive vice president who began her career as an associate at Taft, where she met her husbandfellow lawyer and current Bengals vice-president, Troy Blackburn.
Dornette and his wife were in Miami about 33 years ago when the Bengals made their last Super Bowl appearance, a 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The team, now led by star quarterback Joe Burrow, is considered an underdog as it prepares to face the Rams on the team. home stadium.
Cincinnati, unlike other NFL teams, does not have a general counsel among its reception staff on the team’s website.
“We do a lot of legal work for the team in different areas,” Dornette said, when asked if he’s basically the Bengals’ best lawyer.
This includes sponsorship agreements, workers’ compensation and pension issues, as well as contracts with suppliers and customers, he said. Player contracts are governed by the NFL collective bargaining agreement, which reduces the need for outside counsel, Dornette said. He managed the construction, development, financing and leasing of Paul Brown Stadium, the home ground of the Bengals since 2000.
Taft, a Cincinnati-based firm that has expanded in recent years throughout the Midwest, is approaching the top 100 law firms in the United States by gross revenue. Taft acquired Minneapolis-based Briggs and Morgan in 2020, a move that brought in sports clients like Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, Dornette said.
“We have a pretty solid group of people who play sports,” Dornette said. Taft’s other sports clients include the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns, and the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dornette said he and the other Taft folks going to the Super Bowl bought their tickets through the Bengals. Taft’s partner is optimistic about the teams’ chances in the big game. The two teams are at somewhat opposite ends of the NFL spectrum, in terms of the size of their hometowns and the means by which they built their championship-level rosters.
Todd Davis, the Rams’ longtime vice president of legal affairs, did not respond to a request for comment on his team’s legal advisers. Neither does Marlene Nations, a former Dentons real estate associate who advised the franchise on the January 2016 offer this allowed the Rams to leave St. Louis and return to the Los Angeles area. The Rams had previously moved to St. Louis from Anaheim, Calif., in 1995.
Nations is now general counsel for Hollywood Park Management Co. LLC, an Inglewood, Calif.-based development whose property slate includes the $5.5 billion SoFi Stadium that open in 2020 and is the site of Sunday’s Super Bowl.