PGA Golfer Gets Sponsored by Big Law Firm

Should marketing departments of law firms consider cutting sponsorship deals with professional athletes?

In a deal that became effective Jan. 1, Cozen O’Connor has signed a two-year agreement with veteran PGA golfer William McGirt, stipulating, among other things, that the 37-year-old North Carolina native wear Cozen swag, as he did for the first time this past weekend at the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

At all PGA tour events, with the exception of the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup, McGirt will wear the Cozen logo on his left chest.

In addition, Cozen is entitled to two corporate events per year, where Cozen lawyers and clients can tee off and get pointers from the golf pro, as well as a number of meet and greets throughout the year at PGA tournaments.

“He’s a real blue collar, hard working guy,” said Michael Heller, CEO of Cozen O’Connor, of the decision to sign onto the sponsorship deal, which has a third-year option, the pricing of which will be based on his performance in the second year.

Cozen O’Connor did not disclose financial terms, but the the Philadelphia Business Journal, which earlier reported the deal, said that shirt sponsorships for PGA golfers can range from more than $4 million for top players like Phil Mickelson to $10,000 for a rookie, citing McGirt’s agent, Brett Falkoff.

Heller said that he met McGirt through a friend in October at a golf outing in Philadelphia and that his story resonated with him.

“I learned about his family and his history on tour,” said Heller. “He is a journeyman, a tour player who has toured on the PGA tour for years with varying degrees of success… All of a sudden something clicked last year and he ended up winning the Memorial Tournament.”

 JANUARY 07: William McGirt of the United States reacts on the 18th green during the third round of the SBS Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 7, 2017 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

JANUARY 07: William McGirt of the United States reacts on the 18th green during the third round of the SBS Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 7, 2017 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

It makes sense for a law firm to go with a golfer, of any professional athlete to sponsor. The sport is likely well-viewed by the upper class, white demographic their lawyers are selling into in corporate America as it’s been a longstanding means of networking for business professionals.

The move isn’t entirely unprecedented, although it is somewhat unusual for a law firm to cut a sponsorship deal with a professional athlete. In 2014, King & Wood Mallesons announced that it had signed a long-term strategic partnership with Olympic cycling champion Anna Meares to become the firm’s brand ambassador in Australia. And in the world of golf, Thompson & Knight announced in 2005 that it had landed the first player in the PGA to be sponsored by a law firm. That golfer was Harrison Frazar.

We’re always on the prowl for quirky items like this, as they pertain to the business of law. If you come across a news item of interest, pass it along to BigLawBusiness@bna.com.

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