This month, U.S. Soccer and its men’s and women’s national teams announced new landmark contracts that provide equal pay for both squads, ending a protracted fight by the women’s team for equal and fair treatment.
The agreements equalize FIFA’s World Cup prize money between the two teams and provide a first-ever revenue-sharing framework for the women’s and men’s national team players.
Behind the negotiations was a battalion of law firms and lawyers. Chief among them, as reported by Reuters. was Karen Leetzow, who took over the role of chief legal officer for the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s official governing body in the U.S, in mid-2020. At the time, the federation was facing an equal pay and gender discrimination lawsuit by current and former members of the women’s national team. Leetzow was credited with helping bring about the successful labor agreements, which paved the way to end the lawsuit.
Leetzow had plenty of support. For the labor negotiations, she relied heavily on Morgan Lewis, led by Nicole Buffalano. She also had support from Latham & Watkins, led by Jamie Wine, as defense counsel in the equal pay lawsuit.