Assistant General Counsel, Media and Broadcast Data Amanda Oliver joined NASCAR in 2005, when she joined the University of Southern California`s Gould School of Law as an articling student after her 2L. The legal team was small at the time, which allowed him to gain knowledge about the industry and start as soon as his job became permanent. NASCAR still managed to beat the other leagues to bring fans back, which required some effort from Micallef and his direct reports, Kelsey Copeland and Kori Jessel, legal counsel and contract managers, respectively. Amanda Oliver, who joined the firm in 2005 as a media consultant, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, General Counsel. Her last promotion prior to this appointment was in April, when she was promoted to Vice-President, Commercial and Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel, as part of a broader leadership transition. License our cutting-edge legal content to strengthen your thought leadership and brand. The Florida-based National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, better known as NASCAR, has a new general counsel because the legal chief appointed two years ago resigned over a sabbatical. The legal team leading the legendary business of running through a pandemic and social justice movement is led by a diverse group of women. But the recent impact on NASCAR`s legal department, as well as the rest of the world, has been the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only was the legal team working remotely, but NASCAR had suspended all racing. There was also a need for a revised business model with separate units for competition, sponsorship, broadcasting, facilities and race tracks. Young Alan Micallef, who has been part of NASCAR`s legal team since articling at the University of Miami School of Law in 2012, was given oversight of the facilities and race tracks. It`s safe to say that Lesetar-Smith stole from her chosen profession. As GC and Senior Vice President of NASCAR, she leads legal and government affairs, from national competition series to international races in Canada, Mexico and Europe. Among her favorite accomplishments within the company, she lists the merger and subsequent integration of International Speedway Corporation (ISC) after its acquisition by NASCAR in 2019. Learn more about how NASCAR`s legal team broke new ground during COVID-19 in Working Together, Winning Together. Since then, the digital and private space has only become more dynamic. From the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 to California`s Consumer Privacy Act in 2020, the legal team seized the changes as an opportunity to work more closely with other NASCAR departments. Levy prioritized his legal team`s partnership with NASCAR`s operations team, focusing on the how, what and why of data retention. “I was never bored while here,” Oliver says.
One of his favorite projects was working with outside lawyers on the 2017 Logan Lucky heist comedy, which was filmed during NASCAR races in Charlotte and Atlanta. The experience was one where she felt like she was constantly learning, a feeling that is always present when working on NASCAR`s gaming initiatives with casinos and gaming partners. But what really sets the legal team apart is its commitment to meeting the needs of the business through evolution. Tracey Lesetar-Smith is a pioneer in sports law. Prior to joining NASCAR, she spent 10 years in mixed martial arts (MMA) and combat industries, serving as Bellator MMA`s first female GC and the first woman in the world to head the legal department of an MMA promotion. Her experience with martial arts goes beyond her legal representation, as she has also practiced martial arts. Given this hands-on experience, she has never been afraid of male-dominated industries, though she says she never intentionally sought them out. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are external online distributors of ALM`s extensive collection of current and archived versions of legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law clients may access and use ALM content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, New York Law Journal and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.
Legal counsel will be responsible for a wide range of general corporate and competition law work in support of NASCAR, IMSA, ARCA and related properties. With a family of passionate NASCAR fans, Deputy Media Advisor Jourdan Williams has always had a deep appreciation for the sport. That appreciation fueled an interest in sports and entertainment law, but his decision to pursue a position at NASCAR was inspired by his research on the legal team. “I learned how diverse the legal team was compared to other sports organizations, and that really motivated me to apply,” she says. NASCAR`s legal team includes General Counsel and Senior Vice President Tracey Lesetar-Smith; Assistant General Counsel Katie Hoffman; Amanda Oliver, Assistant General Counsel, Media and Broadcasting Data; Senior Counsel, Digital Data and Privacy, Legal Affairs Nichelle Levy; Kelsey Pincket, Corporate Counsel; and Deputy Media Advisor Jourdan Williams. It has been more than nine years of personal and professional growth, with Micallef`s early roles contributing to acquisitions, including the Automobile Racing Club of America, a stock car racing sanctions agency based in the Midwest, and tracks in Atlanta, Iowa, and Sebring, Florida. Fast forward to the ISC transaction and it would be a new and bigger role that he enjoys. After completing the NASCAR internship in his sophomore year at law school, Micallef was selected at an extremely opportune time, as the company was in the fog to acquire the American Le Mans Series in the summer of 2012. His due diligence and attitude apparently impressed General Counsel Gary Crotty and former General Counsel Karen Leetzow, Leetzow approached him a year later to tell him that an in-house lawyer had left and that he had the opportunity to join the team. Sometimes it can be lonely and difficult to be one of the few women in these spaces, but Lesetar-Smith reflects: “A more comfortable path wasn`t really where I was in life at the time.
I think I was ready to sprint off a cliff with a parachute in my hand. And when I flew, I flew, and when I fell, I voluntarily went into that jump. Lesetar-Smith sums it up best: “We went through a wall in 2020. We got through it together. In August, capacity limits were finally lifted at the 100,000-seat Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 race. Blaney won in overtime and under caution, a sinking on the final lap added to the excitement. For Lesetar-Smith, she can`t wait for her team to realize how strong they`ve become, “because whether it`s athletics or otherwise, the discomfort is where you grow up.” To view this content, please continue with their websites. Micallef and his colleagues consulted with doctors, government officials and other experts to develop protocols for resuming competition. On the spectator side, he ensured that NASCAR policies did not conflict with the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act or OSHA regulations. Part of the culture of that trust is mentoring, something the team has been able to maintain virtually, even if they can`t wait to see each other in person.
Williams shares that she looks forward to continuing these face-to-face conversations with her group`s leaders. “It`s my first year, but it`s been an amazing year, so I can`t wait to see if we can do better,” she says. Since Micallef had just passed the bar exam, he only knew afterwards that he had passed. Despite his concern about it, he didn`t think twice about the offer. Priorities had to be adjusted. Hoffman was working on a best-in-class partnership model – for the first time in sports history, moving from title sponsors for races to an industry-wide sponsorship model. The project was put on hold and Hoffman had to focus on developing relationships with partners while reconfiguring the benefits that would still be available. Diversity was also a motivator for Katie Hoffman, Assistant General Counsel, when she joined ISC.
With a decade of experience in the sports industry, including positions with the Kansas City Chiefs and female leaders in college sports, Hoffman knew she had found something special in the stock car racing company. “They don`t just hire to meet a quota; They are not afraid to promote women to C-level positions or bring them into typically male-dominated roles,” she says. Learn more about how NASCAR strives to promote diversity and inclusion in “The Fast Lane to Progress.” Less than a month later, a limited but respected group of fans was admitted to Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 46,000-seat site reserved for the 1,000 military personnel who watched Denny Hamlin beat Chase Elliott in the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400. And for Micallef, sports law, whatever it is, is a dream job, which he practiced without having to bite his teeth in private practice. He`ll admit there was a bit of luck, but still made the most of his breaks. She and Williams have also worked closely with the digital media team to develop a compliance strategy for websites that will roll out in 2021. Williams, who focuses primarily on licensing, admits she was once wary of private space, but is now eager to see how laws evolve and how they will impact her work. Levy compares the experiment to a cocoon.
She asks herself and her team, “What do you want for yourself when we get out of this cocoon?” They hope they will come out of the experience “smarter, better and stronger” than when they started it.