The Washington football team promoted assistant general counsel Mali Friedman before her new name was announced Feb. 2, making her the franchise’s fourth-best female attorney in three years.
She succeeds Damon Jones, who joins the Los Angeles Dodgers as assistant general manager and baseball counsel. Jones spent just over a year as the top lawyer for the football team owned by billionaire Daniel Snyder.
Friedman will assume her new role on Friday as chief legal officer and senior vice president of business affairs, the Washington team confirmed. She joined the franchise last year after serving as general counsel for the rebooted XFL.
The Washington team unveils its new name after public pressure forced Snyder in 2020 to drop the club’s former nickname, Redskins, which was widely criticized as disrespectful of Native American culture.
Possible new names include Brigade, Commanders, Presidents, Red Hogs and Defenders, which was the name of the XFL team that played home games at Audi Field in Washington.
“Mali will oversee the team’s legal and business affairs function and provide organization-wide legal and strategic support,” Washington team spokeswoman Ashley Whitlock said in a statement. communicated. “Mali and Damon worked closely together to ensure a smooth transition.”
The Washington team is the latest National Football League franchise to make changes to its internal legal leadership, joining the Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans.
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Friedman, a former Covington & Burling associate, previously worked for the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association‘s Golden State Warriors.
She left the Warriors in 2019 to become Vince McMahon’s top XFL attorney, where Friedman was on maternity leave when the league went bankrupt in 2020 after shutting down operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Friedman did not respond to a request for comment on his promotion to the top legal position on Snyder’s team.
Jones was the very first general counsel hired by Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals in 2007. He left his position with the Nationals in 2020, a year after the team won the World Series, and spent eight months as a lawyer in sports practice. in Covington, Washington.
The Washington team recruited Jones to be its top attorney in December 2020 as Snyder faced mounting legal issues over the franchise’s controversial team name and allegations of sexual misconduct by employees.
Jones made an appearance in a video the team released earlier this month explaining why new team names such as RedWolves and Wolves are no longer viable options due to branding issues.
Jones was unavailable to comment on his new job with the Dodgers.
As head of baseball operations, Jones is the latest lawyer for an MLB team to transition to work requiring expertise in everything from analyzing player performance to contract negotiations.
“We are thrilled to have Damon join us and look forward to working with him,” Dodgers general counsel Santiago “Sam” Fernandez said in an email. “With his background and years of experience in baseball, he will be a terrific addition.”
Jones is among several Dodgers personnel appointments announced this week. He will primarily deal with baseball’s operational issues, said Fernandez, who joined the Dodgers in 1983 and is one of MLB’s longest-serving club legal chiefs.
While Jones will be doing legal work, the Dodgers’ in-house legal group, which includes associate general counsel Chad Gunderson and Daniel Martens, will also continue to assist with some baseball operations, Fernandez said.
The Dodgers made another addition to their ranks last year, hiring Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Courtney Moore from Munger, Tolles & Olson, where she spent nearly two years. as the Los Angeles-based law firm’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Moore is not a lawyer.
Whitlock, the spokeswoman for Washington, thanked Jones for her 14 months on the job.
“Damon has been a key leader on our team and has helped our organization through a period of significant change and transition since joining us,” she said.
More than a year before Jones joined, Eric Schaffer, who took over as the Washington team’s general counsel in 2012, stepped down in January 2020.
Schaffer was replaced by former assistant general counsel Will Rawson, who served as the team’s top legal position for more than a year until he handed over to Jones. Rawson is now an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington.
Jones, during his brief tenure as the Washington team’s chief legal officer, last summer recruited former Davis Wright Tremaine associate Ryan Appel for an attorney position.
Bloomberg Law reported on unsealed records last year in a lawsuit brought by the team’s former chief operating officer and general counsel David Donovan, who quit in 2011 and is now a retired partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, against top litigation attorney Beth Wilkinson, who was retained by Snyder and the NFL to conduct an internal investigation into the franchise.
Donovan claimed that Wilkinson used trickery to circumvent attorney-client privilege by accessing confidential records detailing sexual harassment settlements.
The NFL ultimately fined Snyder’s team $10 million, but refused to publicly release details of Wilkinson’s investigation.