In-House Counsel

NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals hire first in-house counsel in team's history

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The National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals—which made an unexpected run to last season’s Super Bowl but ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Rams—have hired the first in-house attorney in the team's 55-year history.

Emma Compton, who graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law in 2020, grew up in Cincinnati and has long been a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Bloomberg Law reports. She worked as an associate at Keating Muething & Klekamp in Cincinnati before joining the NFL franchise in May.

Bloomberg Law also reported in February that the Cincinnati Bengals were among the few NFL franchises that didn’t have in-house counsel.

Mike Brown, a graduate of Harvard Law School who inherited the team from his father, Paul Brown, had hired lawyers in nonlegal roles. This includes his daughter, Katherine Blackburn, who began her career at Taft Stettinius & Hollister before becoming the Cincinnati Bengals’ executive vice president; and her husband, Troy Blackburn, who also worked at Taft and is the team’s vice president.

Compton is now working alongside outside counsel from Taft on a deal that involves the Cincinnati Bengals selling naming rights to their 65,500-seat Paul Brown Stadium to Paycor HCM Inc., a human resources software company. According to Bloomberg Law, the 16-year agreement could generate between $8 million and $12 million annually for the team, which was incorporated in 1967.

Compton, who also worked as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals’ game-day staff when she was in college, told Bloomberg Law that she made an effort to gain experience in business, intellectual property and real estate law before moving into an in-house role in the sports industry.

“Pigeonholing yourself to one area of the law when you’re so young doesn’t necessarily work for long-term career success,” she told Bloomberg Law.

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