The lawyers get the boot, again

Getty Images

When reports emerged on Tuesday that the lawyers had re-entered the negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA*, some saw it as good news.  Though we recognize that, at some point, lawyer involvement will be necessary to turn the terms of a business deal into the wherefores, heretofores, and hereinafters of a formal settlement agreement, we instantly feared that bringing the lawyers back into the bargaining process would be the equivalent of parking a pack of pit bulls in a meat locker and whispering, “Stay.”

Our instincts, for a change, were right.  According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the lawyers nearly “blew up the process” on Tuesday.  Ultimately, NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith was compelled to instruct Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn to “stand down.”

And so the lawyers are once again out.  What will happen when they inevitably return remains to be seen.

At some point, it makes sense to wonder whether the client will hire new lawyers.  Or whether the lawyers will find new clients.

With so much riding on getting this deal done, it may not be a bad thing.

57 responses to “The lawyers get the boot, again

  1. Nothing like bringing a gas can to put out a fire. Thankfully it looks like De and Goodell are wising up and working for the good of the sport.

  2. Sorry, but I have to think of Shakespeare. Kill all the lawyers. Although I don’t mean it literally. Maybe he did. I never read a Shakespearean play where he didn’t kill somebody.

  3. SIGN PAPERS!!!

    I need Sundays….Im dreading…”Well Honey since theres no game on We can go visit my parents…and then Costco”

  4. The first right move De Smith has made yet. I guess there is a real reason for hope, even if we’re not out of the woods yet.

  5. If Kessler can’t be counted on to be part of the solution then he needs to go. He works for the players. Their elected representative wants to do a deal. Kessler has no business standing in the way of that. If he’s actively working against the wishes of his client for the benefit of himself and his firm – and he is – then he and his team should be fired.

  6. This is really disturbing and distressing. I am proud to be a lawyer…and I know many fine professionals with whom I am able to work in a productive and reasonable fashion to actually get things done. Unfortunately, I know all too many lawyers who think their job description is to do all they can to blow up the other side, the process, or whatever stands in their way. There are way to many of them with a really perverse perspective on the law and their role in society…and it’s not only unproductive, but downright destructive. As a nation of laws – which we are, and which makes us a much better place than those countries who seem to occupy the evening news every night – this is a dangerous situation.

    That said, there also comes a time where a client needs to recognize that they are doing themselves no favors by employing pitbull lawyers who measure every aspect of life with wins & losses, and don’t seem to understand the notion of the common good. In this case, it seems patently obvious that the teams of lawyers involved are the worst stereotype of the profession & accomplishing nothing but getting in the way as they line their pockets with fees that I am sure would make a hardened criminal blush.

    PLEASE – NFL & NFLPA…get yourself some new lawyers…deal making lawyers who will not be involved in the litigation if the case doesn’t resolve, so they have nothing to gain by short-circuiting what was sounding like productive meetings toward a settlement. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…fire the sharks & pitbulls and GET A DEAL DONE….for the common good!!!

  7. This is what I said on Tuesday and it is exactly what happened (See below). What we need to take away from this IMO is that De Smith is actually being a leader and shutting them down. For the first time I feel like De Smith is working for the players and not Jeffrey Kessler.

    “bobwhitequail says:Jun 14, 2011 3:39 PM

    Kessler will do his best to blow everything up. That is almost a certainty. I commented earlier about how he may try to worm his way back into control.

    This will be a test to see who really runs things on the players side, (a) Kessler and his desire to blow up all NFl rules and to continue to sue to build on the millions he has already made, or (b) the players who probably want a fair deal (instead of endless lawsuits) and want to play football.”

  8. Not cool Kessler… not cool. At least Demo reeled them in before things got out of hand… I must say I’m a little shocked.

  9. LMAO he kicked them out are we sure that they are really needed i mean if a deal is struck and both sides agree fully the owners will lift the lockout anyways and the court won’t have to rule or anything i believe the judge could just dismiss the case right there

  10. A plan with 50 attorneys on board went down in the Rockies. The good news, none of the 50 survived. The bad news, there were 3 empty seats.

  11. Good to hear they’re really trying! The fact they said to “stand down” is great! Keep it going guys, keep us fans happy. Knock this thing out!

  12. great job de smith you earned back a little of my respect with that but i don’t know if you can get it all back i never liked you ever since you first got elected and they did article that said you were a redskin fan…i knew this was gonna happen at that point LOL

  13. Kessler looks like the geek who was not athletic enough to play football so this is his chance to blow the whole dang thing up. Plus he has the face that just makes you want to say, “I can’t hear a word your saying right now, because I just want to punch you in the face.”

  14. pastorinisflak

    I love that picture. He’s got the “you’re paying me thousands of dollars to not do anything” face.

    Yup, that’s the same face JaMarcus Russel made when he got drafted.

  15. why don’t they set up a payment program with these jackass lawyers that pays them based off of how QUICKLY this deal gets done, as opposed to paying them by their standard rates for as long as it DOESN’T get done?

    I mean, doesn’t that just make sense? And if the current apes won’t go for it, go find new ones.

  16. PFT wrote “Ultimately, NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith was compelled to instruct Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn to “stand down.””
    —————————————–

    Wow! This is the very first indication that D. Smith might be willing to make a deal. Maybe something can be worked out.

    I am still waiting to hear that D. Smith has made some concessions. When I hear that, then I will believe that they are serious about resolving this mess and not just talking for PR reasons.

  17. A good deal-making lawyer should facilitate a deal, not get in the way of it.

    One of my proudest memories was a several hundred million dollar deal that was about to fall apart. As both sides started gathering their papers and prepared to walk away, I stopped them and offered a different way of looking at things. It wasn’t exactly what either side wanted, but it was close enough that they were each willing to live with it. It got the deal done.

    That’s what a deal-making lawyer is supposed to do. Wringing every last penny out of the other side, at the risk of blowing the deal up, is NOT what a deal-making lawyer is supposed to do.

    The two sides here, particularly the union, should ditch their attack dog lawyers and get some lawyers who know how to make a deal happen.

  18. A well trained dog will sit and stay no matter what the distraction. I well trained lawyer should to the same. It is up to the handler to properly train his dog, or in this case Demo to properly instruct his lawyer on why he is there. If not, the dog gets a correction until he learns the correct behavior. Demo just needs to put a shock collar on Kessler and when he starts misbehaving, just give him a small correction. My German Shepherd learns quickly after about 3 times. Kessler should be no different.

  19. bobwhitequail says: “For the first time I feel like De Smith is working for the players and not Jeffrey Kessler.”
    ————————————————-

    I agree. Remember that D. Smith is a lawyer and that he started this whole legal mess by walking out of the CBA negotiations, decertifying the union, and then having certain players file suit. However, maybe he is finally learning that, as head of the NFLPA/NFLPA*, he is not suppose to be their lawyer, but he is suppose to be their leader and look out for the players best interest.

  20. So many things have to happen before we get football, that I would say the season is still at risk.

    Training camps are late-July. Some number of weeks for the 400+ free agents to sign contracts and for all the rookies to sign must be accounted for.

    The court case must be settled with the NFLPA reformed and both the players and owners voting for the newly negotiated CBA which will take at least a few weeks.

    I think that the owners are all meeting next week in Chicago. It would be great if they had something to vote on and if the players were working through the process of reforming the union in parallel.

  21. Is anyone else concerned that De Smith is now the ‘voice of reason’??
    Perhaps he realized hiring Kessler was the “worst idea in the history of sports”

  22. Actually, Mike, lawyers are not needed to draw up the agreement either! Too many people rush to the lawyers to draw up contracts, wills, and other documents that they can do perfectly well and legally on their own.

    With the exception of criminal procedings lawyers aren’t really necessary (and even with some criminal procedings, they aren’t necessary.)

    In other words, NFL and NFLPA*, saver yourself a few million dollars and just tell the lawyers “we don’t need you guys anymore.”

  23. Hmmmm, let me think. Anti trust judgement with triple damages. $4.8B dollars missed wages for one season, triple damages = $15B+ award. 30% to attorneys = $5B+ split to attorneys. Now why would they possibly try to blow it up? Three guesses, or 5 billion.

  24. Isn’t DeM in fact an attorney? Then he, of all people had to see (and apparently did) that these schmucks in lawyer suits were hindering the process.”If you hired’em, you can fire’em” so DeM Ol’Son, do that and be done with it.

  25. “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” is actually from Henry VI, Part 2, and it is a line uttered by a bad guy trying to start a revolution, who realizes that lawyers are essential to a functioning society.

    That said, businesspeople need to know how to use lawyers to the right ends. They, not lawyers, need to drive the bus. You would think the big shots at the NFL would have that down pat by now.

  26. Ok….I’m actually going to write this…… Good job De smith……and…..gulp….good job Commish….

    Understandably lawyers will be needed at some point, perhaps hiring new ones would be best? Kick the idiotically selfish ones to the curb!

  27. I’d guess that Kessler doesn’t have a strong view of Smith given the comparison of Kessler’s and Smith achievements/pedigrees up to this point – Columbia better than UVA, Dewey way better than Patton Boggs. And yes, to many lawyers pedigrees is a very important aspect of how they view other lawyers. It doesn’t mean they are worse or better only there is a preception and I’d bet Kessler is a pedigree snob.

    I’d also guess that Upshaw had Kessler in his place and let him know when he was needed. I’d also wager that Kessler believes since he has been around alot longer than Smith that he should have more power than he should.

  28. You know what the NFL doesn’t need?
    “…the wherefores, heretofores, and hereinafters.”
    Lawyers, go home.

  29. “willycents says:Jun 15, 2011 12:57 PM

    …= $15B+ award. 30% to attorneys = $5B+ split to attorneys…”

    Totally agree and that totally explains Kessler’s attack, attack, attack (don’t negotiate) policy we have seen up until the lawyers were kicked out.

    The only thing I would add is that Kessler is also making millions right now, even if they don’t win an anti-trust suit. In 1998 he told Larry Kennan the cost of such a suit would be $3 million. Who knows how much it would be now, 13 years later. We do know that Kessler has made $25 million from 2006-2010:

    “Kessler’s payoff is considerable — according to documents filed with the Department of Labor, Kessler’s law firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, was paid more than $25 million for representing the N.F.L. Players Association from 2006 through 2010. More than $11 million of that was termed “C.B.A. Matters,” even before negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement hit full stride this year. ”

    from NY times article “N.F.L. Players Put Faith in Lawyer’s Bold Move”

  30. Keep them all out of it. Isn’t DeMo supposed to be a lawyer? Kick him out immediately.

  31. If lawyers got paid per task instead of by how much of everyone’s time they waste, two-thirds of the world would run smoother. Why do you pay people who obstruct your progress? Why do you do that?

  32. This is so ridiculous. Lawyers work for their clients. They are required to follow the wishes of their clients per the ethics rules. While there may be disagreements about strategy, the end objective is always determined by the client as long as it does not conflict with other ethics rules. To make these guys (and all lawyers) out to be these out of control rabid dogs is just plain silly. Hell, De Smith is one of the worst and now that he is reportedly all smiles we just don’t talk about him anymore? Give me a break. How gullible are you people? This is all just part of the lame ass show. It’s called “good cop, bad cop” dummies. Shut up and play football.

  33. People hate on unions for working to ‘not kill the job’ so they keep on getting paid for as long as possible, I just realized that is what lawyers do with Billable hours. Every one of my dealings in my business that invloves lawyers takes an average of five to ten times longer. They just make it harder and longer, so they do not ‘kill the job.’

    Email after email about the same thing over and over and over again, so they can keep ringing the cash register.

    I never thought I would be making a comparison between the worst traits of unions and attorneys but it fits.

  34. Lawyers screw up everything. They can take an amicable separation of a marriage and make folks completely hate each other by the end. I can totally see how they are screwing up the negotiations.

  35. This goes to show that Kessler (The NFL hating lawyer) has his own agenda. And that is he wants to be the guy who killed the game of football. The game we all love just the way it is.
    So NFL FAN’s beware not to bend over for Kessler (The NFL hating lawyer) wants to shove it you know where.

  36. Thank god…. Common sense is beginning to prevail! Common sense tells us fans that the relationship of both sides seems to be bonding with the pitbulls out of the room, get new ones to negotiate a deal. These guys are too deep into their own agendas to do this properly!

  37. I wonder where the NFLPA and the NFL owners are getting these ambulance chasers. These lawyers obviously don’t want to get anything done because all they do is mess sh** up.

Leave a Reply