To say that Alan Rothenberg has made a significant impact in multiple industries over the course of his career only skims the surface of his enduring influence in sports, banking, business, and law. Rothenberg, whose resume includes the establishment of a major sports league, the co-founding of an international law firm, the creation of two successful banks, and leadership in one of the nation’s top sports consulting firms, spoke to the Fowler School of Law community on Wednesday during the first Chapman Dialogue of the season.
The Chapman Dialogue Lecture Series is the law school’s signature speaker series, where lawyers, judges, professors, and leaders in business and politics come to campus to engage with our community and in particular, our students, helping to provide them with the well-rounded, practice-ready education the law school is known for. Fowler School of Law Dean Matt Parlow commented, “By bringing to campus giants in the legal field like Alan Rothenberg, our students learn from, and have the opportunity to network with, distinguished guests who have used their law degrees to reach the heights of their respective professions.”
During his talk, Rothenberg recounted highlights from his impressive career. He shared vignettes from the early days of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the international law firm he helped launch; discussed his work as an executive with the Los Angeles Lakers that included securing the deal that helped bring Magic Johnson to the team; and shared insights into his role in the wildly successful 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Rothenberg also advised attendees about the importance of building a solid reputation.
“I equate it to creating a mosaic,” he said. “It is one tile at a time until you have the whole picture, and that whole picture is who you are. But, also like a mosaic, you can lose a tile here or there around the fringes, but if you ever lose one from the middle, it all collapses.” He also encouraged guests not to let fear of failure impede their goals. “When you approach something, don’t be afraid to fail,” he said. “Calculate your risk, and go for it.”
To focus on only a few of his many accomplishments, Rothenberg spearheaded soccer’s rise in the U.S. as chairman and CEO of the 1994 World Cup (the most successful in FIFA history), chairman of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup (the most successful women’s sporting event in history), leadership in the U.S. Soccer Federation and U.S. Soccer Foundation, and, ultimately, the founding of Major League Soccer. He is also a former president of the State Bar of California who practiced law for over 35 years. He was a co-founder and named partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (formerly Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg, & Phillips) and a partner at Latham & Watkins. Rothenberg also founded and served as chairman of 1st Century Bank and has served on the boards of numerous companies, public entities, and civic organizations.
Currently, he serves as chairman of Premier Partnerships, an industry leader in the sponsorship of sports and entertainment properties, with clients that include professional sports leagues, universities, and major sports arenas across the country. He previously served as a top executive in the NBA and has represented a “who’s who” of sports clients, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Supersonics, Bruce Jenner, Amy Alcott, Steve Garvey, and Greg Louganis,
The Chapman Dialogue wrapped up with a question and answer period moderated by Dean Parlow. The discussion provided an opportunity to glean Rothenberg’s expertise on the evolving business of sports, ranging from issues related to naming rights to his work with the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Rothenberg’s parting