NFLPA spending on outside lawyers shows there’s no labor peace

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The 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement signed four years ago by the NFL and the NFL Players Association created a decade of labor of peace. Unless it didn’t.

Via Am Law Daily, the NFLPA spent millions on outside lawyers from March 1, 2014 through February 28, 2015. Jeffrey Kessler’s firm, Winston & Strawn, saw its fees rise from $2.7 million to more than $3.5 million, presumably as a result of high-profile fights involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.

Latham & Watkins received more than $683,000, Norton Rose Fulbright pocketed more than $425,000, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher received more than $405,000, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice made more than $322,000, Groom Law Group received more than $284,000, and Berens & Miller made more than $134,000. Ten other firms received less than $100,000, with three under $10,000.

It all adds up to more than $6 million in legal fees — more than twice the compensation of roughly $2.5 million paid to executive director DeMaurice Smith.

That’s a healthy sum for Smith, and some would say the union could find someone else who would do the job competently for a lot less money. That’s the same argument often made regarding the NFL, which has paid Commissioner Roger Goodell $44 million and $35 million over the last two years for which the numbers have been disclosed.

On one hand, the compensation for both jobs needs to be high enough to attract someone who could make as much or more in another line of work. On the other hand, there’s a practical limit to how much the job is worth. Either way, it still pay a lot better to be the head of the league than the head of the union.

27 responses to “NFLPA spending on outside lawyers shows there’s no labor peace

  1. The disparity in pay for the respective leaders of the NFL and the NFLPA, simply shows, where the real money is. It should be no surprise that the NFLPA paid for outside legal counsel.

    Imagine what it would cost to hire such legal muscle, full-time. Fans tend to hate the money Goodell makes, until they get a chance to bash De Smith. The hatred always seems to pivot to Smith, when it’s players vs. owners.

  2. Another thread that is a gift to the NFL suits.

    Wells is reported to have charged the NFL $5MM for the Brady investigation so the NFLPA is getting bargain prices in comparison, right Mike?

    You know, the Brady investigation is the one where there was no ball deflation other than from natural causes, the NFL admits Brady didn’t deflate anything, and the NFL admits ball deflation had no impact on the AFCCG.

    Despite those facts, the NFL went public with a preliminary finding of guilt before the investigation; completed a 4 month investigation that was a sham; and Commissioner Goodell refused to let an independent arbitrator hear the appeal.

  3. Ironic how litigation works. The more incompetent your adversary is (in this case, Goodell repeatedly), the more you’re forced to pay to vindicate rights that should have never been abridged in the first place (Rice, Bountygate, Peterson, ..jeez there’s a lot).

  4. The NFLPA made a very specific strategic play with the CBA — Do not look for concessions in areas that the NFL says are off the table (because those counter-concessions would be expensive). Instead, attack the legitimacy of those concessions in federal court — hoping for a federal judge to limit the NFLs authority in those areas.

    Right now it looks like the NFLPA is winning on that strategy. While it’s expensive ($6M/year), it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the concessions the NFL would have required at the bargaining table.

  5. The NFLPA is not the only one spending on lawyers. The NFL spent more than $5M to have a New York corporate lawyer smear its Super Bowl winning team and MVP quarterback!

  6. Rookie players should not be in the union, they weaken the power of the group. The owners have the power because there’s fewer of them and they have money.

    Until the union can stick to what they need and not give in, then the owners will sit back and laugh.

  7. 6 million in lawyers fees to one firm is about $3400 per player. For the highly paid stars; chump change. For the average player who never gets the big 4th or 5th year contract, it’s still not a big percentage, but what did they get for it? Not much that I can see.

  8. For a layman like me it’s difficult to understand why both parties works so hard to reach an agreement only to contest how the agreed upon practices are applied. Oh wait, it must be because lawyers are involved in these agreements. I just confused myself.

  9. cobrala2 says:
    Jun 4, 2015 11:46 AM

    Unions are never satisfied. Once they are they have no purpose.

    ++++++++

    As it should be

  10. tskocpol says:
    Jun 4, 2015 12:25 PM

    The NFLPA is not the only one spending on lawyers. The NFL spent more than $5M to have a New York corporate lawyer smear its Super Bowl winning team and MVP quarterback!

    +++++++++++

    Smear is absolutely the word for it.

  11. justintuckrule says:
    Jun 4, 2015 12:21 PM

    Ironic how litigation works. The more incompetent your adversary is (in this case, Goodell repeatedly), the more you’re forced to pay to vindicate rights that should have never been abridged in the first place (Rice, Bountygate, Peterson, ..jeez there’s a lot).

    ++++++++++++++++++

    The American Way, that.

    Just another example of why corporate power must be permanently curbed.

  12. Look at the money they would save if they just told their members to stop beating their kid, wife or girlfriends. And of course, stop cheating.

  13. that’s a bargain compared to what the NFL spent and got in return:

    Wells report, top of page 52: “Although Anderson‟s best recollection is that he used the Logo Gauge, he said that it is certainly possible that he used the Non-Logo Gauge.” This line referred to footnote 30, which reads: “For the reasons described in Section VII.B, we believe it is more probable that Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge for his pre-game measurements.”

    (it should be noted that EVERYING in this report is based on people’s best recollection unless there was documentation)

    Section VII.B, mentioned above, indicates on page 116 how Exponent concluded that Walt Anderson most likely used the non-logo gauge.

    On page 44 of Exponent’s report, the first sentence under “Pre-game gauge: Logo vs Non-logo” reads, and I quote “According to information provided by Paul, Weiss, (Wells’ law firm) some uncertainty remains as to which gauge was used by Walt Anderson during his pre-game check of the footballs.”

    Nowhere is this report is it described why there is an “uncertainty”. Everything that was not documented is based on best recollection.

    This is circular logic. Wells Team: despite Walt saying he used the logo gauge, we believe he used the non-logo gauge because that is what Exponent determined.

    Exponent: Wells’ team told us they don’t know what gauge was used, so we conclude that the non-logo gauge was used.

    (by the way, this doesn’t even get into all the assumptions that were made by Exponent in making the conclusion on the non-logo gauge)

    And the NFL supposedly paid $5 million for this?

  14. Can’t trust the Leadership of the NFL
    The owners think they are the Ranch, the Players the cattle.

    Never trust management

    When was the last time the NFL came down hard on a owner as the do on players ? Irsay ? Wilf? Haslam? All got either no punishment or a slap on the wrist.

  15. mtrhead269 says:
    Jun 4, 2015 2:06 PM

    When was the last time the NFL came down hard on a owner as the do on players ?

    ———

    Bob Kraft got a $1 million fine and lost a 1st and 2nd round draft pick for……let me see here….. for having a couple employees that may or may not have let air out of a football after the officials tested it, and having another employee that may or may not have been generally aware that the other two employees may or may not have let air out of a football. oh, and for not allowing one of those employees to be questioned for a 5th time, in conformance with an earlier agreement, unless it was first addressed what the question was going to be.

    so yeah, the NFL does go after owners, just not the right ones. which is no surprise

  16. Pat’s punishment was harsh, and it was harsh because of spygate and the failure to fully cooperate. The second incident’s punishment is always harsher even if the second incident is considered minor compared to the first. And so goes. That is life. The Pats got spanked for a pattern of berhaviors.

  17. limakey says:
    Jun 4, 2015 2:51 PM

    Pat’s punishment was harsh, and it was harsh because of spygate and the failure to fully cooperate. The second incident’s punishment is always harsher even if the second incident is considered minor compared to the first. And so goes. That is life. The Pats got spanked for a pattern of berhaviors.

    ————

    they didn’t even prove anything happened. and they did cooperate. there was an agreement on interviewing, and when Wells’ team goofed on that, they went against the agreement and wanted to question more, in person. Patriots lawyers offered to forward any questions to McNally, Wells’ team never responded. Why didn’t they even try? Probably because they didn’t have much to work with in the first place and needed a “failure to cooperate” angle.

    In all honesty, I suspect that at some point the Patriots’ lawyers knew this was a one-sided investigation – not necessarily trying to find the truth but more importantly (for the NFL) trying to dig up anything they could on the Patriots, and they weren’t going to go along with it.

  18. ” when was the last time the NFL came down hard on an owner?”

    When Jim Irsay was caught ” bombing” around population centers doing 10 mph in a 40 mph zone, high on oxycodone and alcohol, carrying 11 different prescriptions and 29k in cash, Roger Goodell lowered the boom.

    He suspended Irsay from his owners box for 6 games and fined a billionaire 500,000 ( that’s $28.50 to ordinary people).
    .

  19. Paul, Jim is a diaster to the Pats case. I don’t blame them for not letting him be interviewed again. I think Pats decided to take the failure to cooperate hit. No matter how the Pats word it, they did not fully cooperate. I think the Pats knew they were in trouble and they shut it down with McNally.

  20. Now show how much money Goodell spent on Ted Wells to investigate air in footballs? Smh

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