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Women’s Soccer League Names Big Law Partner as New Top Lawyer

Aug. 18, 2022, 6:40 PM

The National Women’s Soccer League hired ArentFox Schiff partner William “Bill” Ordower as chief operating and legal officer, a week after players finalized a settlement over pay with the sport’s US governing body.

Ordower spent more than two decades working for Major League Soccer, including 17 years as general counsel, before ArentFox Schiff hired him in early 2021 to advise sporting and entertainment industry clients out of the New York office.

“I’m excited to join the league,” Ordower said in a statement Thursday. “As women’s soccer continues to gain traction in the global sports landscape, it is imperative that we remain strategic, focused, and innovative.”

Ordower’s hire comes after a federal judge this month approved a $24 million settlement between the US Soccer Federation, the national governing body for the sport, and US women’s national team players who sued over pay equity.

The soccer federation in May agreed to equalize pay for US men’s and women national team players. The following month the federation brought back Caitlin Carducci, an attorney who had been the league’s director of player affairs, as its vice president of member programs and stakeholder engagement.

The league said Ordower will be responsible all legal matters, as well as player affairs and operations. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Chicago-based women’s league in March hired a new commissioner in former Proskauer Rose associate Jessica Berman. She previously served as a deputy commissioner for the National Lacrosse League and deputy general counsel for the National Hockey League.

Berman took over from the league’s former interim chief executive officer, Marla Messing, a former Latham & Watkins associate who had been a chief organizer in bringing the 1999 Women’s World Cup to the US.

The league hired Messing after its former commissioner, Lisa Baird, and ex-general counsel, Lisa Levine, stepped down late last year amid an internal reckoning over allegations of sexual coercion involving league players and coaches.

The league retained former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, now a partner and head of the crisis management practice at King & Spalding, to conduct an internal investigation that remains ongoing.

Levine had previously been the top lawyer for the US Soccer Federation.

Latham represented the federation, a registered nonprofit, in the women’s pay equity matter. The law firm also represented the women’s league last year in settling an antitrust lawsuit filed by Olivia Moultrie, a teenage soccer prodigy, who wanted to play for a team even though she was under age 18.

Moultrie, while playing for the Portland Thorns, in June became the youngest-ever player to score a goal in league history.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com