Jenner & Block’s Carissa Coze has a practice that sits at the intersection of sports, entertainment and innovation. Fox Entertainment Group hired Coze to structure FoxNext, an enterprise that holds Fox’s interactive entertainment assets. She’s since advised FoxNext on its June 2017 acquisition of Aftershock Studios, establishing a foothold in the $40 billion mobile games market. She also represented an equity fund that invested in SportsMedia Technology, a company that provides data integration technology and real-time graphics enhancements for live sporting telecasts. She recently described to The Recorder how she developed her niche and built her relationship with Fox.
What were your professional highlights of the past year? What made that deal or those deals stand out? I really enjoyed working with Fox Entertainment Group on structuring FoxNext to house its video game, augmented/virtual reality and location-based assets and continuing to work with FoxNext as it develops next-generation entertainment experiences, including this past summer’s acquisition of Aftershock Studios. Fox has been a longtime client for whom I have had the opportunity to work on some groundbreaking transactions, but it’s particularly exciting now to be working with Fox as it seeks to leverage the changes in media and technology that are creating new opportunities to engage consumers of entertainment, including in the realms of AR/VR, esports and social media. It is extremely gratifying to be a part of that journey along with them.
Which clients do you have the longest relationships with? How far back do those relationships go? As a third-year associate in Northern California, I worked on the 1995 IPO for Advanced Energy Industries, a semiconductor capital equipment company, and I continue to represent that client today, advising on securities matters, M&A deals and corporate governance.
I have worked with 21st Century Fox since 2003. My early work with the company on deals involving Major League Baseball teams led to a role in 2006 in the $11 billion asset swap between Fox (then known as News Corp.) and Liberty Media involving ownership in DirecTV and three of Fox’s regional sports networks. This, in turn, has since led to the opportunity to advise on numerous, often innovative, transactions as Fox has forayed into digital media and social media; partnered with institutions such as the National Geographic Society and The Big Ten Conference; grown the cadre of Fox Sports regional and national sports networks; and ventured into new markets through OTT streaming, video games, augmented/virtual reality and location-based entertainment.
Having the opportunity to continue to work with clients as their businesses grow and evolve is quite possibly the most rewarding part of this job.
Why do you think clients come back to you? What can they get from you that they don’t get from someone else? Clients have told me that they value my judgment and willingness to question—even challenge—their reactions and proposals. There’s a high level of mutual trust needed to make that work. I think the fact that I care as much as they do about achieving the goals they have for their deals, and their businesses as a whole, plays a part as well. My long-term clients know that I am genuinely “client first and foremost,” and I don’t think that approach is as common in the legal industry as it should be.
What’s more important in the current market and why: offering bespoke services or being efficient? The best lawyers know they have to both deliver bespoke services and be efficient, but for each matter we need to find the right balance between the two. Efficiency is important, for more reasons than cost, but in many circumstances providing commoditized legal services is not appropriate, especially by outside counsel. Bespoke services, which capitalize on the creativity, experience, judgment and engagement of counsel, can be critical to the ultimate outcome of a deal or litigation, but need to be tailored to the matter at hand and needs of the client. Virtually always, one of those needs is to manage budgetary pressures, so bespoke billing arrangements also need to be on the discussion table to ensure alignment of the client’s and counsel’s interests.
Outside your partners, who is another corporate lawyer you admire and why? Faiza Saeed at Cravath [, Swaine & Moore], for her courage to stick to her own style and her success in earning the confidence of her clients, including industry titans who look to her for strategic counsel.