The New York Giants, who have secured their first postseason berth since 2016, are looking to advance to the Super Bowl with a new head of their legal entity.
Richard Hernandez was named General Counsel of the National Football League this month. Hernandez, who did not respond to a request for comment, confirmed his promotion in a recent message posted on his LinkedIn profile. The front office page of the Giants website also lists his new role as legal chief.
Hernandez, a former chairman of McCarter & English’s antitrust and sports practice, was hired by the Giants last year as assistant general counsel. He takes over as the club’s chief legal officer from William Heller, a former McCarter colleague who the Giants brought on in 2010.
A Giants spokesman and Heller, whose name was removed from the team’s website this month, did not respond to requests for comment.
Heller was named as a defendant in a 2021 lawsuit by a former video director who claimed he was fired by the Giants in retaliation for complaining about alleged workplace violence. The lawsuit was settled in a confidential settlement after the team tried to have the case dismissed.
Heller and the Giants were represented by attorneys at McCarter. Based in Newark, NJ, the law firm enjoys a longstanding client relationship with the team, which handles everything from real estate matters to memorabilia disputes.
In December, a US federal judge recommended that a proposed class action lawsuit filed last year against the Giants and New York Jets for using “New York” rather than “New Jersey” in their names be dismissed.
Both NFL teams, who play their home games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, are represented in this case by Haynes and Boone.
Giants President and CEO John Mara, the eldest son of the late Giants owner Wellington Mara, is a former labor and labor law trial attorney at the now-defunct New York firm Shea & Gould. John Mara preceded Heller as the club’s general counsel.
Hernandez, the Giants’ new general counsel, began his legal career in 2001 at what is now Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. He joined McCarter in 2004 and was made a partner in February 2012, the same month the Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. During his tenure as private chancellor, Hernandez specialized in antitrust and financial services litigation and franchise law.
The Giants aren’t the only NFL team in the market for legal expertise.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who just pulled off the third-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history, hired associate general counsel Brittni Fabinak earlier this month.
Fabinak, most recently senior corporate counsel for healthcare automation startup Olive AI Inc., said via LinkedIn that her first week with the club was crowned with a win over the Tennessee Titans.