The Talent

February 8, 2011 3:12 PM

Former MLB No. 2 Rejoins Foley & Lardner

Posted by Brian Baxter

DuPuy_Bob Former Major League Baseball president and chief operating officer Robert DuPuy has rejoined Foley & Lardner as a partner in the firm's New York office, the firm announced on Monday.

DuPuy (pictured right) made the move on February 1, three months after resigning from MLB. He returns to a firm he left in 1998 to serve as baseball's chief legal officer and executive vice president of administration. In March 2002 he was promoted to the top position in baseball behind commissioner Bud Selig. DuPuy, who first began advising MLB and Selig as outside counsel during baseball's labor woes of the early nineties, says he never intended to stay at MLB for more than a few years. With the league entering a new cycle of negotiations with television networks and the players union, the time was right to move on, he says.

Shortly before announcing his resignation from MLB on October 31--news of DuPuy's planned departure from the league broke in late September--DuPuy attended a Foley partnership meeting in Washington, D.C., where he spoke with Foley CEO Ralf-Reinhard Boer and New York office managing partner Peter Wang about returning to the firm. With DuPuy wanting to take some time off for the baseball playoffs and the holidays, and Foley's new fiscal year set to start on February 1, it was agreed that date was the right time to rejoin the firm.

Foley was the only law firm DuPuy considered in planning a return to private practice, he says. "There was no place I would rather practice, especially given Foley's expertise in the sports area, particularly baseball," DuPuy adds. "Given the growth of the firm in New York, where the league is based and there is so much institutional financing, I never even thought about going to another firm."

When DuPuy left Foley 12 years ago, the firm did not have a New York office. That changed in June 2004 after Foley merged with litigation boutique Friedman, Wang & Bleiberg. The New York office currently has almost 40 attorneys, says Wang, who was a name partner at the firm.

In addition to returing to his legal practice, DuPuy, 63, has been named a senior adviser to Evolution Media Capital, an investment banking affiliate partially owned by entertainment and sports shop Creative Artists Agency. Last year, Foley worked with EMC to advise current Reed Smith counsel Charles Greenberg on his successful acquisition of the Texas Rangers out of bankruptcy.

DuPuy, a litigator by trade who sharpened his corporate skills while working at MLB, will advise clients on the "purchase, sale, financing, and media side of their business," he says. DuPuy notes that EMC performs transactional services for clients; he will not be involved in the agent side of the business.

DuPuy hopes to assist Foley sports industry chair Mary Braza, vice-chair Irwin Raij, and antitrust head James McKeown in representing the firm's sporting clients on various matters. The sports group's client list includes the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team and Green Bay Packers, who on Sunday beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Foley's sports practice has advised on the sale of the Brewers in 2005 and Chicago Cubs in 2009.

"Anywhere I can help and can provide the types of things I did in baseball, which include a familiarity with the league constitution, the rules, and establishing the parameters for ownership, I hope to do," says DuPuy, who worked on the relocation of the Montreal Expos and a new stadium for the Florida Marlins while at MLB.

One matter where DuPuy will remain on the sidelines is baseball's looming labor talks. While the National Football League's labor woes have been getting much of the current press, baseball's collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2011 season. DuPuy says he doesn't expect to be involved in the next round of negotiations between players and owners.

DuPuy does hope to impart at least some of his nearly 40 years of legal experience to the next generation. Once a week, DuPuy will teach a course on legal ethics at Cornell, where he earned a legal degree in 1973.

According to Sports Illustrated, DuPuy earned $6 million plus bonuses in his final year at MLB. Foley's profits per partner were $840,000 in 2009, according to the firm's latest Am Law 100 financial data, and its gross revenues were $667 million. Foley has not yet submitted financial information for 2010.

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