Major League Baseball’s New York Mets will soon have a new top lawyer in Katherine Pothier, who is leaving her post as general counsel for the Texas Rangers.
Pothier will make somewhat of a homecoming as she is a New Jersey native and graduate of Rutgers Law School. She confirmed in an email that she’ll transition to chief legal officer for the Mets later this month.
She takes over a role that longtime Mets legal chief David Cohen vacated last year, following an internal workplace review conducted by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. The investigation focused on allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination by former Mets employees.
Pothier “will be a great leader,” said Richard “Sandy” Alderson, president of the Mets and former general counsel for the Oakland Athletics, in a March 30 statement. “Her legal and baseball experience make her a welcomed addition to our team.”
Prior to being hired by the Rangers in 2016, Pothier spent eight years as general counsel for the San Diego Padres and a half-dozen years as a litigation partner at San Diego law firm Wilson Turner Kosmo. Alderson served as chief executive officer of the Padres from 2005 to 2009.
David Cohen, the Mets’ previous legal chief, is unrelated to team owner Steven Cohen. The hedge fund mogul bought the club for $2.4 billion in 2020 with the assistance of Debevoise & Plimpton, after retaining Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Under Cohen’s ownership, the Mets have recruited former Katten Muchin Rosenman associate-turned-counsel Ennis Coble and brought on Jane Son, a former director of banking legal at Barclays Capital Inc.
Son now serves as co-head of community engagement for the team and its nonprofit foundation. Neal Kaplan, a former general counsel for the Mets, last year became the club’s vice president of strategy.
The inquiry by WilmerHale led the team to promote longtime in-house lawyers James Denniston and Jessica Villanella to co-general counsel and executive director. Both lawyers remain with the Mets.
In February, the Mets hired former Ropes & Gray associate Nicholas Spar as director of baseball operations. Spar most recently held the same role with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, a talent agency he joined in October after spending two years as a baseball operations assistant for the Los Angeles Angels.
William Morris and the Angels previously employed the Mets’ general manager, Billy Eppler, who signed a four-year contract with the team in November. Eppler beat out other candidates for the Mets’ top baseball personnel job that reportedly included Adam Cromie, a Pittsburgh-based Jones Day associate who once was an assistant general manager and director of baseball operations for the Washington Nationals.
Rangers spokesman John Blake said the team hasn’t yet chosen a successor for Pothier as its top lawyer.
The Rangers, which play their home games west of Dallas in Arlington, Texas, are partially owned by former Exxon Mobil Corp. in-house lawyer Neil Leibman, who is the club’s chief operating officer and president of business operations.
Other in-house lawyers currently employed by the Rangers include senior corporate counsel Erin Kearney and corporate counsel Robert Fountain, a former deputy general counsel for Minor League Baseball who was hired by the team last year.
While with the Rangers, Pothier oversaw all legal functions for the team and its affiliates. She helped the club open a new ballpark in 2020 in Globe Life Field, having previously done the same for the Padres and Petco Park in 2004.
“I leave the Rangers with many great friends and memories,” Pothier said in a message posted to LinkedIn. “I am thrilled to join the New York Mets at an exciting time for the team and look forward to the opportunities that lay ahead of me.”
Blue and Orange
The Mets, based in Queens, N.Y., have roots that are tied to the practice of law. The late William Shea of New York’s Shea & Gould, a now-defunct firm, helped secure an MLB expansion team in 1962 that replaced the Dodgers and Giants, two franchises that relocated to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
The Mets’ primary colors—blue and orange—are taken from both of those legacy New York teams.
The Mets said Pothier is a member of MLB’s Diversity Pipeline Program Committee, an initiative focused on improving the recruitment and development of diverse and female employees for executive leadership roles in the baseball operations departments of the league’s 30 franchises.
In January, MLB saw its former human resources and diversity and inclusion head Michele Meyer-Shipp be named chief executive officer of Dress for Success Worldwide, a New York-based nonprofit that provides professional attire and job counseling to women from low-income backgrounds.
Meyer-Shipp is an attorney and former chief diversity and inclusion officer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and accounting firm KPMG.
MLB’s Opening Day for the 2022 season is less than a week away—April 7. The Mets will play the Nationals in Washington.