Just before Opening Day this month, Valerie Alou made the tough decision to leave her role as director of risk management for Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants—a team her father, legend Felipe Alou, once played for and managed.
She took a new in-house legal job at IMG Worldwide Inc., one of the world’s largest talent management agencies. She now works at IMG Academy headquarters, a 600-acre campus in Bradenton, Fla., where the company provides athletic and academic training to promising young athletes.
Alou said it was difficult to leave behind a job in a game that made her family name famous, noting, “I grew up around the sport.”
In switching from the Giants to IMG, she moves from the management side to a business focused on player interests. Alou will handle events-related compliance issues and report to IMG associate general counsel John Dooley in Atlanta.
The coronavirus pandemic, which brought Alou back to Florida from the West Coast, helped accelerate her exit process from the Giants.
During the past year, Alou was one of many lawyers within professional baseball working around the clock on risk management-related matters as Covid-19 delayed MLB’s 2020 season and scuttled all minor league games.
While working remotely, Alou said staying in the Sunshine State for work began to make sense. Alou enjoyed her time with the Giants, and her ties to baseball remain strong, but the opportunity at IMG was one she said she couldn’t pass up.
Alou is one of Felipe Alou’s 11 children, one of whom died in 1976. Many have gone on to make their own names in baseball. Her brother, Moisés Alou, played 17 years in the big leagues, ending his career with the Giants and New York Mets. Her half-brother, Luis Rojas Alou, just started his second year managing the Mets.
She’s fluent in English, French, and Spanish, having grown up in Montreal, where her Dominican Republic-born father spent nearly a decade managing the now-defunct Montreal Expos, and where he met her mother, Lucie Gagnon-Alou.
The elder Alous have since retired to Florida, a hub for spring training baseball.
Alou had been a legal intern for the team in 2013 before going on to work at Florida-based law firms Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer and Banker Lopez Gassler.
Alou returned to the Giants in mid-2019 in the risk management role she just gave up. She spent almost two years working with an in-house team for the ball club led by chief legal officer John “Jack” Bair and general counsel Amy Tovar.
IMG is a subsidiary of Endeavor Group Holdings Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based sports, media, and entertainment giant that in late March filed to go public after shelving plans for a previous listing in 2019.
Earlier this year, former IMG general counsel John Cooper was promoted to legal chief of Endeavor’s experiences, events, and right businesses. Prior to joining IMG, Cooper was the first-ever team counsel for MLB’s Atlanta Braves.
Endeavor, whose chief legal officer is Seth Krauss, saw former deputy general counsel Joel Karansky leave last year to become general counsel for HRS Management LLC, the family office of Apollo Global Management Inc. co-founder Joshua Harris, who owns several professional sports teams.
Courtney Braun, another deputy general counsel at Endeavor, was promoted in December to general counsel and head of legal affairs for the company’s client representation group, a key unit within William Morris Endeavor.
Around the Horn
IMG itself was founded by Mark McCormack, an attorney and super-agent once branded by Sports Illustrated as the “most powerful man in sports.” McCormack died in 2003, but the empire he created lives on.
WME Baseball, a unit of Endeavor, is currently representing Houston Astros star Carlos Correa in his quest for a new contract. The labor union that represents all MLB players has retained its own legions of lawyers as it prepares for a new round of collective bargaining talks with the league.
Some of the MLB teams that Alou competed with while working for the Giants have recently made changes to their own in-house ranks.
The Washington Nationals, which after their 2019 World Series win appointed a new general counsel last year, added staff attorney Michael Scott in March. Scott, a 2018 law school graduate, initially joined the Nationals as a legal extern in October.
The Baltimore Orioles, owned by prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer Peter Angelos, saw attorney Michael Shapiro depart in February to become commissioner of the Pioneer Baseball League, a new independent partner league of MLB.
Shapiro, who spent nearly a decade as general counsel for the Giants and was once senior vice president of business affairs for the Nationals, had joined the Orioles in 2018 as an executive vice president for planning and development.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who in 2020 tapped a former Big Law partner to help run their baseball operations, promoted vice president of human resources and business affairs Marcy McGovern to senior vice president of legal, people, and culture in January. McGovern, a Littler Mendelson alum, has worked for the Pirates since 2015.