By Ryan Carlson, 2L, CSLP Sports Law Fellow
The Center for Sports Law & Policy (CSLP) recently sent five of its Sports Law Fellows to tour one of the most important golf factories in the world, and to have a face to face with the company’s associate general counsel (AGC), Sierra Brandis.
When golfers hear the name TaylorMade, they immediately think huge, white driver heads that boost distance by 15 yards, and expensive irons that are worth every penny. To the average person, however, TaylorMade Golf is just a name. So what is TaylorMade Golf, and why did the CSLP take a trip to their headquarters? Located just 25 minutes from TJSL, in Carlsbad, California, this unbelievably successful company has been one of the leading pioneers in the golf equipment industry since 1979. From golf clubs and golf balls, to shoes and apparel, if you need it on the golf course, TaylorMade probably makes it. Since its release of the “TaylorMade One,” a golf club that revolutionized the metal-wood category as golfers know it today, TaylorMade Golf boasts several respectable achievements including: multiple years of revenue totaling $1Billion+, a brief period of 50%+ market share for drivers, and mutually beneficial sponsorship arrangements with some of the biggest names in golf (Ernie Els and Dustin Johnson, to name a few). The company also joined forces with Adidas in 1997, and is now entirely responsible for Adidas’ research and development of golf footwear and apparel. By now you are probably asking what all of this has to do with becoming a legal professional. You are also probably thinking that this was more of a field trip than anything else. Well, to an extent you are right. However, after the five CSLP fellows and CSLP Director, Jeremy Evans '11 toured the TaylorMade offices, research and development lab, factory, stock rooms, company store, and, perhaps most notably, their testing facility (aptly named “The Kingdom”) they had the chance to sit down in a very casual, yet professional setting, with AGC Brandis. Ms. Brandis is one of a small team of attorneys who comprises TaylorMade Golf’s in-house counsel. She keeps busy with, among several other things, product safety issues, copyright disputes, and contracts for their endorsement deals. In the hour-or-so that she opened herself up to questions, she shared with Rachel Travis, Shana Avery, John Young, Peter Tobiasson, and Ryan Carlson, invaluable information about what serving as general counsel for a large company involves. To call the trip to TaylorMade Golf a learning experience would be a drastic understatement. For the five CSLP members, Friday, March 21st was a game changer, an eye opener. Not only did the Sports Law Fellows better season themselves for the first tee after law school, they also branched out and made some notable connections in the sports and legal community. Experiences like these create the foundation upon with the CSLP was founded, and are the essence of what the Center will provide for years to come.