Kelleigh Fagan, a partner at Church Church Hittle + Antrim, started the firm’s sports law practice in 2015. Here’s a quick question and answer interview on Kelleigh’s path to creating the only all-female sports law practice in the US.
- Initial business thoughts, ideas, and how business came to fruition
Answer: I was an extern with enforcement as a college student before law school and ever since then, I had been interested in the infractions process. I reconnected with some former colleagues after law school who had since left the NCAA, particularly LuAnn Humphrey and Julie Roe Lach, and we started to talk about how to get into the “defense” side of the infractions business – representing schools, coaches in NCAA investigations – and that there was an opportunity to assist schools with staying out of trouble.
- How did you assemble the team?
Answer: Our team has grown organically and we have been very lucky for the right people to come to us at the right time. After we convinced Julie to partner with CCHA, we began working with Jenna LeClere, who had a compliance background at Indiana and Texas. Jenna was instrumental at the outset of our practice. She is back at Texas today. As we started to get busier with work, there was a need for more attorneys. Molly had significant experience at the national office in enforcement and was a perfect fit for the team. Katie had a law clerk with CCHA and had great experiences on Division I campuses in compliance. Natalie knew one of the partners at our firm and had great experience as a coach and former professional athlete. Jane’s experience filled a void on our team experience wise given she spent several years in the eligibility center. We have not set out to be an all-female practice group but its ended up that way and something we are proud of.
- Biggest successes over the last 5 years?
Answer: The general growth of the practice. Each year, we make strides and in roads into the business. We grow our client and contact base. The team we have developed is top notch in my opinion. We challenge each other and bring different experiences and skill sets to each client to allow to serve each client in the most productive and efficient manner.
- Lessons you’ve learned about growing a successful practice?
Answer: It takes time, patience, hard work, and some experimentation. You can’t rush growth but you can take the right steps to position yourself in the best way to make it happen. And sometimes ideas fail, which is great if you learn from them. Biggest key though is ensuring the people and clients you work with share your values and approach to problem solving.
- Future of CCHA Collegiate and CCHA Sports Law Practice?
Answer: Very bright. We continue to serve our core client base of institutions and coaches in NCAA compliance matters while remaining nimble to provide services on the ever-evolving issues in collegiate sports. We are appreciative of our clients and look forward to new meeting new ones!