Unique Gift Foreshadows Karen Hoffman Lent’s Sports Law Career at Skadden

Dec 20, 2019

By Lauryn Robinson is a 2L at The George Washington University Law School
When Karen Hoffman Lent received a Coleco Vision system from her parents in the fifth grade, little did she know this unique gift foreshadowed her career the eSports practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Her love for sports grew with time. At Johns Hopkins University, Lent was a three-year starter on the women’s basketball team while majoring in chemical engineering. After her summer associate experience at Skadden, Lent joined the firm to tackle sports law matters with tenacity. Today, Lent utilizes her love of athletics to create a dynamic career in sports and antitrust litigation.
Lent has represented a breadth of professional teams and leagues including the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Hockey League (NHL), the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB).
In 2016, Lent was named a Power Player in sports law by Sports Business Journal, appeared in Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America and highlighted in The Best Lawyers in America. Now, Lent is the Sports and Entertainment Trailblazer according to The National Law Journal and named the 2019 Sports MVP by Law 360.
As one of the only female antitrust partners at the New York Skadden office, Lent is a leader for women in sports. She believes being one of few women doesn’t change anything but makes her “work harder to have credibility in a historically male-dominated industry.” Her accomplishments and mentorship galvanize fellow female associates to thrive in their respective industries.
Lent’s accomplishments and influence in the sports law community is exactly why we sought her out for this exclusive interview, which appeared in eSports and the Law.
Question: What market conditions led to the creation of eSports as a practice area?
Answer: As eSports grow, we anticipate the companies involved will face many of the same issues on which we have expertise based on our representation of the traditional leagues, including with respect to antitrust, intellectual property, labor, organizational structure and internal governance. For example, agreements between leagues and teams and specified player rights will likely increase as eSports continue to grow.
The eSports sector has evolved from a niche market to mainstream entertainment, generating professional leagues and over the past year more than a billion dollars in revenue from, among other factors, sponsorships, media rights and advertising, for over 400 million viewers. In fact, some eSports competitions are attracting more viewership than traditional sports tournaments. We’re seeing large and established internet media companies planting a stake in the space. Broadcast and new media rights and merchandizing opportunities, as well as new U.S. markets for gambling, raise questions to resolve regarding data rights. Ancillary, streaming service popularity will require clarity about copyright issues and potentially the value of game-related items functioning as currency.
Q: In what ways does antitrust law intersect with eSports?
A: Antitrust laws govern the conduct of virtually any industry. In the sports world, teams in a league need to agree on a host of issues ranging from the rules of the game to the location of events and how to deal with players. As eSports teams develop and organize into leagues, they will require antitrust advice on these types of issues and, hopefully, can avoid the antitrust litigation that traditional leagues faced as they grew in size and popularity.
Q: What kind of clients in the eSports industry should consider enlisting Skadden as counsel?
A: Skadden’s hallmark across disciplines is our ability to handle the most challenging issues our clients face, including many first-of-their-kind matters. Our sports practice is no different. Because Skadden has historically represented sports leagues on a wide range of challenges, we are best suited to advise eSports leagues and their teams. Our experience gives us solid foundation to understand the legal issues faced by eSports leagues and teams, while the creativity of our group will allow us to apply that knowledge in a way that addresses the differences between eSports and traditional leagues.
Q: What has been the most surprising part about your practice?
A: When I went to law school, I never dreamed that I could bring my passion for sports into my legal career, but Skadden’s practice has allowed me to do that from day one.


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