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Varnum Launches Dedicated Name, Image and Likeness Team

September 22, 2022

Multi-Disciplinary Group Reflects Cutting-Edge Experience Across the NIL Landscape

Varnum is pleased to announce the formation of a dedicated Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) practice team. Reflecting the firm’s deep experience representing higher education institutions, collectives, brands, coaches and athletes, the team consists of subject matter experts who are navigating clients on a daily basis through complex and novel issues in the burgeoning NIL landscape.

The Varnum NIL team, led by partners Rich Hewlett and Jessica Visser, includes 10 attorneys across the firm. The team’s experience is vast and includes:

  • Forming and structuring collectives, including on behalf of a Big Ten University’s football and basketball programs.
  • Group licensing deals, including with respect to trading cards.
  • Securing, protecting and defending NIL and other indicia of persona assets for athletes, including on behalf of a Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP Winner.
  • Creation and maintenance of trademark and copyright protection for athletes and coaches.
  • Negotiating marketing, licensing and endorsement agreements on behalf of brands, coaches and athletes, including with respect to apparel and media rights.
  • Advising higher education institutions on NCAA compliance to ensure athlete integrity and eligibility.
  • Representing coaches and athletes in their estate planning and asset protection needs.

“Our approach begins with strong knowledge of and adherence to NCAA guidelines, in addition to various state and institutional policies governing NIL matters,” said Varnum partner Rich Hewlett. “We’re pleased to be on the forefront of this space and gratified to be able to help our NIL clients navigate the complicated patchwork of rules in the current landscape.”

Jessica Visser, who recently joined Varnum as a partner after serving as the Associate General Counsel of a major university, said, “The NIL landscape is filled with both opportunities and challenges for higher education, student athletes and brands. Having laid the groundwork for NIL compliance at a university following last year’s Supreme Court decision, it is gratifying to bring that experience to the forefront on behalf of Varnum’s clients.”

Varnum’s NIL coverage includes:

  • NCAA Compliance
  • Corporate Structuring
  • Membership Agreements
  • Brand, Licensing and Marketing Agreements
  • Tax Structuring and Compliance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Estate Planning

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