chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
September 24, 2020

ABA Entertainment and Sports forum to host first virtual conference, Oct. 1-15

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2020 – The American Bar Association Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries will host its 42nd annual conference over four days during a three-week period in October. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s conference will be virtual, with programming scheduled for Oct. 1-2, 8 and 15.

42nd Entertainment and Sports Industries Conference
Sponsored by ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries

Thursday-Friday, Oct. 1-2;
Wednesday, Oct. 8; and
Wednesday, Oct. 15


Civil rights and social justice issues will be the main topics at two plenary sessions: moderating the Oct. 1 opening plenary focusing on entertainment industries will be Neeta Ragoowansi, Diversity & Inclusion chair, ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries, and senior vice president, NPREX (National Performing Rights Exchange) in New York; ESPN anchor Michele Steele will lead the Oct. 8 sports plenary.

Also, on tap as keynote speakers are U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada (Oct. 8) and event safety and security expert Steven Adelman (Oct. 15).

Notable programs include:

“Plenary: Civil Rights and Social Justice Issues and Responsibilities in the Entertainment Industries” With issues ranging from leadership diversity and workplace initiatives, to police and community relationships, to building cultures of inclusion and accountability, this panel will assess recent high-profile activism in music, television, film, theater and literature. It will also examine the role of talent, production and companies in engaging in civil discourse and action on matters of prejudice, bias, discrimination and abuse. Panelists: Vernā Myers, vice president, Inclusion Strategy, Netflix, Los Gatos, California; Jeff Harleston, general counsel and executive vice president, Legal and Business Affairs, Universal Music Group, Santa Monica, California; and Binta Niambi Brown, co-president, Black Music Action Coalition & Founder, Omalilly Projects, New York.

Oct. 1, 1-2:30 p.m. ET

“For Profit Performing Arts: Financial Survival in Entertainment & Sports” — Live entertainment and sports, including film and television production, were all shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic consequences are just beginning to be fully realized. This session will address the legal and business considerations confronting the entertainment and sports industries caused by the pandemic. Panelists include Randall Etheredge, senior director, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York; Julius Erving III, CEO, Human-Re-Sources, and co-founder, Q&A, Los Angeles; Tom Ferrugia, director of governmental affairs, The Broadway League, New York; and Don E. N. Gibson, president and CEO, Kavi Sports, Phoenix, Arizona.

Oct. 1, 2:45-3:45 p.m. ET

“Disruption in College Sports: The Evolution and Issues Surrounding Student-Athletes’ Name, Image and Likeness Rights” — Industry experts in the rapidly evolving world of college sports explain and debate the latest developments in student-athlete name, image and likeness (NIL) rights. College sports insiders will share the latest insights on NIL evolution, with updates on pending lawsuits, state and federal legislation, new NCAA policies and student-athlete organizing. Panelists: Luke Fedlam, Anomaly Sports Group and Partner, Porter Wright, Columbus, Ohio; LaKeisha Marsh, chair of Higher Education and Collegiate Athletics, Akerman, Chicago; and Blake Lawrence, CEO and founder, Opendorse, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Oct. 1, 4-5 p.m. ET

“Plenary – From Play to Platform: Civil Rights and Social Justice Issues and Responsibilities in Sports” Our panel will assess the legacy of social activism in sports, its effects on commercial business, and the roles of counsel advising individual and corporate clients navigating this complicated but compelling terrain. Panelists: Jim Rooney, Rooney Consulting, Lakemoor, Illinois; N. Jeremi Duru, of counsel, Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, and professor of law, American University, Washington, D.C.; and Terri Jackson, executive director, Women’s National Basketball Players Association, New York.

Oct. 8, 1:15-2:45 p.m. ET

“Nonprofit Theatre & Performing Arts Survival and Innovation Strategies” — The nonprofit theatrical and performing arts sector in the United States is experiencing a pivotal industry-wide disruption due to the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. What strategies are being employed to keep the organizational lights on, even when the theater is dark? What operational safety protocols are being implemented? Panelists will explore these issues and more as viewed through the lens of exempt organization compliance, major metropolitan performing arts centers, arts funders, regional theatres and performing arts companies. Panelists: Michael Romy Greer, president and CEO, ArtsFund, Seattle, Washington; Adam Hess, executive general manager, Daryl Roth Theatre, New York; Kendra Whitlock Ingram, president and CEO, Marcus Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee; Myron Martin, president and CEO, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas; and Jeff Tenenbaum, Tenenbaum Law Group, Washington, D.C.

Oct. 8, 4:30-5:30 p.m. ET

“Music Modernization Act in Q4 2020 – The MLC Goes Live: A Primer for the Legal Community (and their Clients)” — This panel will explore the Music Modernization Act and what implementation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective will mean for songwriters, publishers, digital service providers and other key stakeholders. Speakers: Danielle Aguirre, executive vice president and general counsel, National Music Publishers’ Association, New York; Kris Ahrend, CEO, Mechanical Licensing Collective, Nashville, Tennessee; Garrett Levin, CEO of Digital Media Association, Washington, D.C.; and Bart Herbison, executive director, Nashville Songwriters Association International, Nashville, Tennessee.

Oct. 15, 2:15-3:15 p.m. ET

The complete conference program can be found online. For media registration, please contact Barbranda Walls at [email protected].

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.