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Pathways to the Profession: Hannah Gerstenblatt L’14

July 17, 2012

Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the U.S. and abroad. This dispatch from Hannah Gerstenblatt L’14 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.

Gerstenblatt, who is planning a career in sports law, is working  this summer in the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball.
Last week was the Midsummer Classic, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. For some people that meant fun events to watch on TV and an opportunity to root on their home team’s players as they took on the League’s best. For others, it meant an unwanted break in the baseball season. For me, though, the arrival this summer of the MLB All-Star Game meant an empty office. Save for myself, other interns, and a few full-time employees, the MLB Commissioner’s Office in New York City, where I am working, was transported to hotel conference rooms in Kansas City.
I have been the legal intern in the general counsel’s office for seven weeks. Over these weeks, I have done interesting work, heard about MLB’s ever-growing footprint from company executives, and seen a couple of baseball games here and there.
My primary project is reading each team’s spring training lease to analyze and summarize the team’s rights, obligations, and conflicts, so that going forward, future leases, which our office has to approve before execution, are in compliance with MLB rules and regulations. In addition, my boss, the senior counsel, has included me in numerous conference calls with team counsels discussing a variety of structural and contractual topics. I’ve had additional projects, as well, such as reviewing a team’s operating agreement to make sure the ballclub aspect of the business is in compliance with baseball’s rules.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that no matter the industry, the core skills that make a good lawyer—those skills that 1L year drilled into us whether we liked it or not—remain the same: writing, communication, analytical acumen. But the sports world is unique in that the law is not as established, so there is a bit more room for creativity and interpretation. I am also realizing how many opportunities there are—and how varied those opportunities are—in the legal branch of the sports industry.
I am one of 99 summer interns at MLB, most of whom are undergraduate students. Once a week all summer, the organization has put on an event for the interns, usually a panel of speakers who work in one of MLB’s diverse departments. One week was Labor Relations; another was Baseball Operations; still another focused on MLB’s commitment to the community and promoting diversity. We took a field trip to the Fan Cave, MLB’s newest social media and fan interactive initiative, and next week we are going to the Mets/Nationals game at Citi Field.
MLB is a dynamic and diverse organization. One of the greatest parts of working here has been learning about all MLB does—and meeting the people who make everything happen. For example, I had no idea that MLB has a non-profit organization called the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT), which helps former Major and Minor League and Negro League players, former baseball employees, and their families, in their times of need. In a way, learning more about MLB beyond the familiar logo and the on-field activity has confirmed a gut feeling I have always had about baseball: It is much more than a sport.
-          Hannah Gerstenblatt