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College Sports, Education, General Announcements, High-School Sports, Miscellaneous

Buckner Expands, Rebrands, Relaunches Sports Law Practice

POMPANO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 18, 2013 – Sports attorney Michael L. Buckner has rebranded, expanded and relaunched his sports law practice formerly known as the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm under the new singular name of Buckner.  As part of the expansion, his firm has merged with Pilgrim & Associates’ sports law practice, added several veteran attorneys to the firm and formed an affiliation with Precise Advisory Group for client consulting services.  Along with the new brand identity, the firm has launched a new website, www.bucknersportslaw.com.

Jill PilgrimLori Williams and Claire Zovko are the newest additions to the Buckner roster of attorneys.  Pilgrim is senior counsel on issues relating to sports law, higher-education law and corporate and contracts law; Williams is senior counsel on issues relating to intercollegiate athletics, risk management and higher education law; and Zovko is of-counsel on issues relating to sports law, intercollegiate athletics and higher-education law.

“This is a very exciting time for our firm and for our clients,” said Michael L. Buckner, founder and shareholder of Buckner.  “Through our merger with Pilgrim & Associates’ sports law practice, the addition of new personnel as well as our affiliation with Precise Advisory Group, we are able to expand the resources we offer to our clients while helping them with their most complex cases. We remain committed to providing the highest-quality legal counsel to our higher education, intercollegiate, and high school sports clients, but now also bring a wealth of global sports business, Olympic and professional sports perspective to enhance the services available to our growing client base.”

Buckner’s recent merger with Pilgrim & Associates’ sports practice, added Pilgrim, the former general counsel for USA Track & Field and the Ladies Professional Golf Association, as well as Pilgrim’s colleague, Claire Zovko, founder of Sports Law Chat and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, to the Buckner staff.

Williams comes to Buckner, from her firm L. Williams Consulting Group, LLC, which specializes in NCAA initial-eligibility, high school eligibility, entertainment law, and grant writing. Prior to launching her own company, Williams was the associate athletics director for risk management at the University of Kansas, was on staff at the NCAA for more than eight years and was the assistant director of compliance at the Big 12 Conference. As a member of the NCAA enforcement services staff, Williams successfully investigated, processed, and presented over a dozen cases to the Division I and II Committees on Infractions.  She also served as a director of membership services and was later named the director of academic certification and review at the newly established NCAA Eligibility Center where she was the point person on all legal matters and worked closely with the NCAA Office of Legal Affairs.

“This infusion of broad and diverse new talent provides our clients with additional perspectives as we collectively work on their behalf to solve issues and to maximize opportunities,” commented Buckner.  “We are a seasoned boutique sports law firm that just got a little bigger and a little stronger.  We now offer an even stronger knowledge base and a global footprint of experiences and personnel to service our clients at every level of the complex world of sports business.  Additionally, having an attorney on our team with previous general counsel service with two sports organizations enables us to offer knowledge-based support services to general counsels throughout the sports world, while adding a seasoned NCAA enforcement and legal specialist reinforces our resources and commitment to support our collegiate sports clientele.”

Buckner also formed an affiliation with Precise Advisory Group to provide Buckner clients with business and legal consulting services. Precise Advisory Group, which operates globally via offices in Miami, New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil, does not provide legal services.

“The broad scope of experiences among the Buckner and Precise Advisory Group teams will enable Buckner clients to receive exceptional legal counsel and advisory services from proven leaders in legal, higher education, international sports and the general sports business environments.”

About Jill Pilgrim

  • Jill Pilgrim is senior counsel to Buckner. Pilgrim’s distinguished career includes decades of experience working in the sports business and corporate environments, serving as an attorney, arbitrator, entrepreneur, international consultant, speaker, and published author of several legal articles in national academic and trade publications. She has built a national reputation as a prominent sports and entertainment lawyer having served as the former general counsel of two national sports organizations: USA Track & Field (USATF) and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). She spent 33-plus years in the Olympic sports world: eight-and-a-half years as general counsel and director of business affairs for USATF; 10 years as a volunteer for USATF; and more than 15 years as an athlete. Pilgrim received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Princeton University in 1980, where she also was a nationally ranked sprinter for the Princeton Track and Field Team, and studied at the Alliance Francaise and Sorbonne in France prior to graduating with a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1984. Pilgrim also is co-founder of Precise Advisory Group. Pilgrim resides in Miramar, Fla., and New York City.

About Lori Williams                                        

  • Lori Williams is senior counsel to Buckner on issues relating to intercollegiate athletics, risk management and higher education law.  Before establishing L. Williams Consulting Group, LLC, which specializes in NCAA initial-eligibility, high school eligibility, entertainment law, and grant writing, Williams served as the associate athletics director for risk management at the University of Kansas (KU).  At KU, Williams worked with department and university-wide constituencies to ensure effective processes among areas impacted by risk management, including information technology, compliance, student services, human resources, facilities, event management, and academic support.  Williams was formerly with the NCAA where she was on staff for eight and one-half years. Prior to her stint with the NCAA, Williams was the assistant director of compliance and legal assistant to the associate commissioner at the Big 12 Conference in Dallas.  Williams began her career in athletics during law school where she was instrumental in creating the University’s first athletics compliance manual.   Licensed to practice law in the state of Texas, Williams earned her B.B.A. degree in Management Information Systems from Baylor University and her doctorate of jurisprudence from Texas Tech University School of Law.

About Claire Zovko

  • Claire Zovko serves as of-counsel to Buckner on issues relating to sports law, intercollegiate athletics and higher-education law. She also is the founder of Sports Law Chat, which is a Twitter chat and blog dedicated to informed discussions on relevant topics of sports law. Additionally, she teaches a new course within the University of Miami Sport Management program titled the Globalization of Sport and co-teaches the Olympic Games & the Law course at the University of Miami School of Law.  She has worked with the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and the University of Miami athletics compliance office. Zovko received a B.A. in Business Administration and a Mathematics minor from Pacific Lutheran University and a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. Zovko, a resident of Miami, is licensed to practice law in Florida.

About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)


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