Sports Law Blog
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Monday, February 25, 2008
Covington & Burling's Representation of both Major League Baseball and Roger Clemens
of The American Lawyer has a very interesting piece on concerns by Major League Baseball that one of its lawfirms, Covington & Burling, has represented Roger Clemens in his current matter with the Mitchell Report and Congress. Lanny Breuer, one of the Covington's litigation partners and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton in his impeachment proceedings, has led his firm's efforts in representing Clemens. Here are a couple excerpts from the piece:
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Earlier this year Covington & Burling decided to add pitcher Roger Clemens to its roster of high-profile clients. But perhaps it should have received approval from another client, Major League Baseball, first. Covington agreed to represent Clemens in the congressional steroids inquiry without getting the league’s sign-off—a potential blunder in the high-stakes world of sports league representation. According to a source familiar with the matter, Covington’s decision to represent Clemens annoyed the league. The official relationship between Major League Baseball and the firm has not changed but, according to the same source, a meeting between the two is imminent. . . .
[T]he Clemens assignment would potentially put Covington at odds with one its clients, MLB. Covington has a long history of representing professional sports leagues. Although the firm is known mostly for its work on behalf of the National Football League, it has also done some work for baseball, according to its Web site. Last year, for example, it represented baseball in connection with the launch of an MLB channel. However, Clemens’s interests appeared to be aligned against baseball. Breuer, like Hardin, would likely have to attack the Mitchell Report. Breuer apparently didn’t accept the Clemens assignment right away. In January, Hardin told The New York Times that Breuer said he had to get clearance first. “We’d talked to him, and we’d just been waiting a day or two to check out conflicts,” said Hardin. “He had no conflicts.”
* * *For the rest of the story, click here.
Update: a reader e-mails me a good point about a separate occasion where Covington's interests may not have coincided with Major League Baseball's: "It might be worth noting also that Covington and Burling partner Andrew Jack was lead counsel for the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission during its negotiations with MLB over the Nationals new stadium. That stadium deal, as you probably know, was one of the most generous in sports history."