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Volume 21 No. 2
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Forty Under 40

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For Proskauer partner Jon Oram, several years of labor that was often difficult and often anonymous all came to fruition in a few short weeks this past fall.

First, Oram in mid-November helped Houston businessman Jim Crane close on a $610 million purchase of the Astros, ending months of back-and-forth negotiations involving outgoing owner Drayton McLane and Major League Baseball. With the Astros, Crane finally landed a team after coming up short in prior pursuits of the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

Less than two weeks later, Illinois businessman Shahid Khan announced a deal to buy the Jacksonville Jaguars for an estimated $760 million. Khan, similarly, had coveted team ownership for several years and previously had pursued the St. Louis Rams.

Each deal contained numerous complications, and at various points came close to not happening. The Astros were tagged to move to the American League as part of a collectively bargained realignment between MLB and the MLB Players Association. And that switch carried significant added costs with additional travel and player salaries moving over to the higher-rent AL, prompting a tense negotiation to lower the franchise sale price.

Khan, meanwhile, walked into a delicate situation in which the Jaguars frequently have been mentioned as a prime candidate to move to Los Angeles. Khan has made a verbal pledge to stay in Jacksonville.

“I’ve been repping each of these guys for four, five years, and it was incredibly rewarding to see them both achieve their desired results,” Oram said. “They’re both frighteningly smart. But it was quite something to have both of them come together basically at the same time.”

Oram also has done work for a wide range of clients including the NBA, NHL, Major League Soccer, ATP World Tour and Major League Baseball, among others. But on the merger-and-acquisition front, Oram has won many plaudits for deftly navigating a financial and legal environment that following the global economic meltdown of 2008 has made dealmaking more difficult than ever.

“Jon is brilliant at executing an M&A transaction, and the perfect complement to [Proskauer] firm chair Joe Lecesse,” said Astros Chief Executive George Postolos.

Oram last year also spent significant time aiding MLB on its fractious legal battle with Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. During the season, the Dodgers under McCourt filed for bankruptcy and spent much of the summer challenging the authority of Commissioner Bud Selig before ultimately coming to a settlement in early November, just weeks before Oram’s flurry of team deals. As part of the settlement, McCourt agreed to sell the club, the league’s paramount goal throughout the saga.

“The Dodgers were a fascinating and exciting experience,” Oram said. “Putting a team into bankruptcy to avoid league rules is something we in the legal community have worried about for a while. But fortunately, the authority of the commissioner’s powers were ultimately recognized. So hopefully, that precedent has now been set.”

Privately, Oram has chafed a bit at the term “sports lawyer,” preferring to think of himself more as a lawyer who happens to be working in sports. But after more than 15 years and a wealth of high-level contacts throughout the industry, Oram has come to some peace with the notion.

“I still pride myself as a transactional and business lawyer who could do any type of deal,” Oram said. “I also think I’m known for my skill but also my relationships. I think I’ve always had good relationships, and that’s a core part of the practice.”

Age: 38
Title: Partner
COMPANY: Proskauer Rose LLP
Education: B.A., Stanford University, 1996; M.A., Stanford University, 1996; J.D., Yale Law School, 1999
Family: Wife, Lisa Rubin; daughter, Emily Oram (2)
Career: Served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Peter Leisure 1999-2000; joined Proskauer in 2000; elected partner in 2007
First job: Ben & Jerry’s (fired after one day)
Last vacation: Amagansett, N.Y., in August
what's on your ipod? The Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Springsteen,
the Backyardigans, the Fresh Beat
Band and plenty of Elmo and Dora
guilty pleasure: Shake Shack
best stress release: Spending time with Emily
pet peeve: Voicemail messages on my cell phone
fantasy job: Athletic director, Stanford University
what keeps you awake at night? Friends who tell me they’d rather watch the game on their flat screen than go to the ballpark.
business advice: Everyone is a potential client.