Hannah Gordon is the Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel for the San Francisco 49ers. In her role, Gordon oversees Legal, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications, Risk Management, Community Relations, Fan Engagement, the 49ers Museum, and the 49ers Foundation, including its award-winning direct programs, 49ers EDU, which excites youth about STEAM through football, and 49ers PREP, which promotes wellness for youth, including through free in-school programming and free co-ed flag football leagues around the Bay Area. Under her guidance, the 49ers have been named the ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, Pop Warner Little Scholars Team of the Year, and Silicon Valley Business Journal Community Impact Award winner.
JSEL reached out to Ms. Gordon to talk about her professional journey and advice for law students…
Name, Position, and Location:
Hannah Gordon, Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel, San Francisco 49ers
UCLA – Bachelor of Arts
Stanford Law School – Juris Doctorate
What do you most enjoy about your job?
What I most enjoy about my job is the variety. The fun of being in-house in a relatively small to mid-size company, whether it is a sports franchise or something else, is that you are like the town lawyer. You end up touching every practice area. Of course, I also love games.
How did you begin working in the sports industry?
I fell in love with football as a freshman at UCLA and ended up being the first woman to cover football for the UCLA Daily Bruin. I knew I was where I belonged and have been in football for most of the last 20 seasons. The game itself is simultaneously one of the most physical and intellectual sports and the environment can be very much like a family or college.
What has been one highlight from your career?
There have been many highlights but the first time I saw fans come into Levi’s Stadium and bring the new building to life after so many people worked so hard to create that space was satisfying. The Super Bowl runs were also a highlight.
What piece of advice would you give to a current law student?
Spend some time thinking about what you want to do and why you want to do it. When you have that vision, make a game plan for yourself and follow through with perseverance but also a willingness to iterate because it’s okay to make adjustments.
What is a recent case or trend in your industry that interested law students should do some research about?
One of the toughest things about practice is that you rarely have time for research. Given how quickly the Covid-19 pandemic has moved, more quickly than the law can keep up, I expect there will be ample new subject matter for research. The other significant trend that has evolved in the last few years and will continue to move across the country is legalized sports betting.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to read, write, and mentor others which is why I wrote SZN OF CHANGE: the competitor’s playbook for joy on the path to victory. I couldn’t personally mentor everyone who asked so I wrote a playbook so that they could do for themselves what I would have done with them.