Amy Lally recently sat down with Claudia Teran, Executive Vice President & General Counsel at Fox Sports Media Group to discuss new sports distribution channels, lessons learned as a summer associate, and the importance of having, as well as being, a great mentor.
Amy: What trends are you seeing in the sports industry?
Claudia: Everybody is talking and strategizing about the impact of OTT, or “over the top” distribution of content—and that definitely includes sports. For those who aren’t familiar with the terminology, it’s distribution of content, sometimes looking like a typical cable or broadcast network, but via internet technology. You can see examples such as YouTube, Hulu and Sony launching new services that look like your old-school cable packages except they are delivered via more modern technology. In other cases, this technology allows content owners to go direct to the consumer, outside of the previous ecosystem. It is making for some very interesting conversations about what the content business will look like in the future.
Amy, when you and I graduated from college, people would ask, “What are you going to do with your first paycheck?”-- And the answer was, “I’m going to buy a big screen TV.” Now people want to buy a faster phone, a better iPad, etc. Needs have changed, as have interests. People want to be able to consume content in a lot of different ways and on different devices. As the technology has changed, it has necessitated the development of new technological advances for distribution. It certainly makes the business more exciting and challenging, as we prepare for the the future.
Amy: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Claudia: I have direct responsibility for all of the business and legal affairs in the domestic sports businesses and for global sports acquisitions. I have had the incredibly opportunity to advise these businesses (and their teams) as they grow and change over time. That experience and those relationships are what now allow me to give strategic advice—legal and non-legal. Being part of this team and their strategic decision making process is probably the most fun part of the job.
Amy: Was there anything about private practice or about working in a larger law firm that you’ve taken with you into your in-house role?
Claudia: My experience at Sidley laid the groundwork for the responsibilities of being trusted counsel to a company. It helped lay the foundation of working hard, paying attention to detail, understanding your responsibility to your client. I have also held on to the relationships that I built at Sidley, including with my fellow summer associates. I met my best friend, Heather (Skinazi) Axe, when we were summers at Sidley. We were inseparable from the very first day.
Amy: What advice would you give an attorney who’s starting their career in private practice?
Claudia: The advice that I got the very first day as a summer associate-- I think it was Peter Ostroff who said, “When you put something on our letterhead, you have to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible because you are representing the firm.” I apply that now to representing Fox. When I act in this role, I am acting on behalf of my company, my client, and that means attention to detail is critical. If you make a sloppy mistake, it calls all of your work into question. I share that advice with every junior lawyer that joins our team.
Amy: For attorneys who might be transitioning to an in-house position, what should they be mindful of?
Claudia: At a law firm, usually you’re asked for specific advice. It could be a huge project, but it’s contemplated as finite. When you become in-house counsel, you rarely get finite projects or give finite advice. Advice is ongoing—changing as the business does--—and you will likely be around to live with the aftermath of the advice you give! The best in-house counsel I’ve seen are the ones that understand they are part of the business they are advising—they don’t stand outside of it. They too are responsible in helping to move their business forward.
Amy: What would you say is your proudest achievement?
Claudia: Other than my son, it’s being at a company that would promote me to General Counsel when I was one week from giving birth. Being at a company that would promote me to this role when I was nine months pregnant—I’m proud of being associated with that company.
Amy: As you’ve come up through your career, have you felt the presence of a mentor or sponsor?
Claudia: Definitely: my boss, Rita Tuzon, the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Fox Networks Group. She is an amazing role model, mentor, and friend. She leads by example because she has two kids and a huge job. I’ve watched how she handles the travel and the emergencies and continues to make a life outside of work. She and I agree that there is no such thing as balance. You’re constantly striving to catch a ball before it hits the ground; that’s the nature of what we do. I did learn it could be done because I had a role model that was doing it. I strongly believe that if you see people succeed at things, especially when they are like you in some way, it helps you visualize that thing is possible. My hope is that I can do that for the people who work with me. I have a little sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters in the Workplace. She’s applying to colleges now and I want her to know what she can do if she puts her mind to it. I want her to see that it’s a juggle, that it’s not perfect, and that there are a lot of decisions to make along the way. A lot of these kids have never set foot in an office. They don’t know people who work in executive roles, or as lawyers, or in finance, or in television. It’s a whole new world for them. Coming in and spending time with us here—seeing that it can be done—helps them get here, if this is ultimately what they want. It’s a lot harder to visualize if you’ve never known anyone who has pulled it off!
Amy: Any good books that you’re reading right now?
Claudia: With a 2 ½ year old? Not so much—but I’ll tell you what is on my to-read list: the new Sheryl Sandberg book. For so many of us who have spoken about Lean In, her new book—Option B—talks about real life, and I think that’s a very healthy thing for people to keep in mind. It’s perspective. I’m certainly working on mine. I think we all need to.
Published July 2017 - UPDATE: VP, Deputy General Counsel and Global Head of Commercial Legal; Snap Inc.
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