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Volume 21 No. 1
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Forty Under 40

Karen Hoffman Lent found herself drawn to the world of sports law after a summer associate position at one of the top law firms in the country. That summer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom introduced Lent to the firm’s sports cases while working with associates in the antitrust group.

“I really had a dream that I could combine my desire to be a lawyer with my love of sports,” Lent said.

In addition to fueling her growing interest in sports-related cases, Lent, a former high school and collegiate athlete, enjoyed the camaraderie of the firm’s antitrust group.

“I ended up playing basketball with them every Monday night … and talking more about the kinds of sports work they do, which sounded great to me,” she said.

Lent joined Skadden in 1999 and has spent her entire legal career at the firm, becoming involved in numerous high-profile sports cases. From team relocation to player-eligibility disputes, Lent has built an extensive portfolio of sports-related law, representing the NFL, NHL and NBA during that time.

In her work with the NBA, she was instrumental in obtaining a dismissal of breach of contract claims filed by the Spirits of St. Louis against the league. She also represented the NBA as lead counsel in a class-action lawsuit during the 2011 lockout, ultimately playing a role in helping the league to reach a new collective-bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Players Association.

Lent’s breadth of work additionally includes representing the NHL during the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy case. Lent’s work on the case helped the NHL maintain its power in determining the owners and locations of its clubs.

As the only actively practicing female antitrust partner in the Skadden New York office, Lent serves as an informal mentor to her fellow female associates.

“I think it’s important to let them know that being at Skadden as a woman and succeeding doesn’t mean you just have to be an attorney and an attorney only,” Lent said. “I try to make it clear to them that you can have priorities outside of work. You can have a family that you see; you can take your kids to school; you can put them to bed at night; you can be involved in their lives and not sacrifice the quality of legal work you do.”

— Anna Hrushka

Age: 39
Title: Partner
COMPANY: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
EDUCATION: B.S., chemical engineering, Johns Hopkins University; J.D., Fordham University School of Law
FAMILY: Husband, Scott; children Jackson (6), Madeline (4) and Josie (1)
CAREER: Entire legal career has been at Skadden: summer association in 1998, started as an associate in 1999

FIRST JOB: Summer basketball camp counselor
HOW DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?: I am up front with my priorities with respect to my family and am as flexible as possible to make sure that I can fit everything in.

  BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: Responsiveness to client needs is the highest priority.
IPOD PLAYLIST: Everything from Psy and Justin Bieber to Frank Sinatra
PET PEEVE: Bad grammar
FANTASY JOB: GM of an NBA team
FAVORITE MOVIE LINE: “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” (“Say Anything”)