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Erin Kearney – Texas Rangers 

Hitting a home run for the WS Champs’ legal team 

Erin Kearney has never struck out an All-Star center fielder with two runners on base in the last inning of a playoff game. She has never driven in a clutch run, with her team trailing in the late innings. And she has never turned a crucial double play to preserve a victory. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t an integral part of a team—in this case, the team that just won its first World Series title in its history. 

Erin Kearny | Senior Vice President and General Counsel | Texas Rangers 

Erin Kearney | Senior Vice President and General Counsel | Texas Rangers

As the senior vice president and general counsel for the Texas Rangers, Kearney ensures the team’s legal and business operations run smoothly and efficiently—just like the team on the field.  

“The World Series title is a huge accomplishment for the baseball operations side of the organization, but it is also a huge achievement for the entire team,” Kearney tells Vanguard during a call in early January.  

Since joining the organization in early 2020, the Rangers have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, opened a new stadium, handed out over a billion dollars in contracts to free agents and won the team’s first World Series championship. Kearney has created more efficient operations in the legal department and changed how the organization views the legal team—including how the legal team interacts with others across the business. That includes fostering internal relationships so people feel comfortable coming to legal for advice. 

“We are here to help, and while we don’t guarantee to give the answer everybody wants, we pledge to provide the best legal advice we can in the best interest of the Rangers,” Kearney explains.   

 A championship department 

In her role as general counsel, Kearney does a lot of the typical work—managing vendor contracts, handling labor and employment matters, managing outside counsel and more. But there is also work with sponsorship agreements and licensing, IP protection and support for the baseball operations department. She reminds people that the work doesn’t stop when the season ends, nor does it stop at the stadium walls.  

Erin Kearny | Senior Vice President and General Counsel | Texas Rangers 

The Rangers’ legal team includes three attorneys and a paralegal. The team is small in numbers but large regarding the scope of its work. Whether quickly adapting to changing regulations during the 2020 season that was limited to 60 games because of COVID or handling most legal matters in-house, Kearney and her team are there when the organization calls.  

“Looking back on the pandemic season, we spent much time learning about force majeure language, and orders from Gov. [Greg] Abbot’s office were different than federal mandates,” Kearney recalls. “It was a strange time because nobody had ever experienced anything like it.” 

Kearney is also the corporate secretary for the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, meaning she sits in on board meetings and gets an inside look at things the foundation does to help the community. That includes partnering with local junior high schools to help develop the leaders of tomorrow through the foundation’s Leading Off Program. In fact, the legal department has a high school intern who participated in that program in junior high.  

“Being part of the foundation is one of the most fulfilling parts of the job,” Kearney says pridefully. 

Striking deals 

When the Rangers signed shortstop Corey Seager to a 10-year, $325 million contract and second baseman Marcus Siemien to a seven-year, $175 million pact on the same day in December 2021, those deals were mostly handled by the team’s baseball operations department. While Kearney doesn’t negotiate contract length or value, her team sometimes gets involved if a player’s agent wants a specific provision included in the agreement.  

Erin Kearny | Senior Vice President and General Counsel | Texas Rangers 

The Rangers have a risk management team within the human resources function—most MLB teams don’t have that—so Kearney and the legal team don’t have to weigh in on player and baseball staff contracts often.  

But what if the Rangers wanted to sign someone to a contract similar to the one Shohei Ohtani inked with the Los Angeles Dodgers? (In late December, Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with all but $2 million per year deferred.) 

“I would definitely want to read that one,” Kearney jokes. 

Other deals cross her desk, like one the team hopes to strike soon for a jersey patch sponsorship (the Rangers are one of a few MLB teams without one). There is also the matter of what will become of the team’s local TV rights, which will definitely involve Kearney’s expertise to help solve. The team’s games are expected to be broadcast this season by Bally Sports Southwest, but that network and other regional sports networks under the Diamond Sports Group umbrella have faced financial difficulties. In January, Diamond Sports announced a deal with Amazon that will place games on Prime Video and allow the company to come out of bankruptcy.  

A fan of the law 

Kearney grew up in Massachusetts in a family of football fans, and she says she ended up in law school because of a series of happy accidents. After earning a degree in biology from Tufts University, Kearney says she didn’t want to work in a lab, so she did what a lot of people do who aren’t sure what path to take in life: move to New York City.  

Her roommate was the sister of a college friend who worked as a paralegal, and the roommate thought Kearney would enjoy that kind of work. So, she got a job as a paralegal in downtown Manhattan and spent eight years in the role.  

Erin Kearny | Senior Vice President and General Counsel | Texas Rangers 

“I kept working for them while I went to law school at night,” Kearney recalls. “Being an in-house attorney landed on my radar about halfway through law school.” 

With a New York Law School degree, Kearney worked in big law for about 11 years for Alston & Bird, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and DLA Piper. While working for DLA Piper, Kearney worked with the Texas Rangers, helping on the financial side of the project to build the club’s new ballpark.  

In July 2019, then Rangers general counsel Katie Pothier invited Kearney to Arlington for a game. The moment she walked into the team’s stadium at the time, the former Globe Life Park, changed her life.  

“It was an ah-ha moment, and I knew that working for the team was what I wanted to do,” Kearney says. “We put the house on the market quickly and moved the family to Texas.” 

Kearney joined the Rangers officially in early 2020 as senior corporate counsel and served as associate general counsel in June 2022 when Pothier left to become the chief legal officer of the New York Mets. She was promoted to general counsel in January 2023.  

Admittedly not the biggest baseball fan, Kearney says she’s spent the past several years learning about the game, the team, the traditions and everything that comes with working for a professional sports franchise. But the law is the law is the law, she reminds.  

“I am a lawyer. I just happen to be a lawyer for the reigning World Series champion,” Kearney laughs.  

As a female executive in a male-dominated industry, Kearney says she takes the opportunity to mentor female attorneys in any industry, including those looking to break into sports—though she stresses that any job has to be the right fit for a person to be successful.  

“Be fearless and passionate about what you’re doing. You don’t have to love baseball or whatever industry you’re in. But you have to love the work,” Kearney explains.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter III 2024 Edition here.

Published on: February 20, 2024

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