ESPN taps new top lawyer as network's legal leader retires

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ESPN+ logo is displayed in this illustration taken on July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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  • Eleanor “Nell” DeVane succeeds Diane Morse, who is retiring at the end of the year
  • ESPN parent company Disney also set to lose top lawyer
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(Reuters) - ESPN Inc. has promoted Eleanor “Nell” DeVane to the top lawyer role at the sports network, ahead of its current chief counsel's retirement at the end of the year.

DeVane has been the deputy chief counsel at Walt Disney Co.-owned ESPN for the past nine years, the network said Thursday. She'll take over for outgoing legal chief Diane Morse in January.

Morse has led the law department at Bristol, Connecticut-based ESPN for six years, the company said.

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DeVane will report to ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro and Disney’s general counsel.

Alan Braverman currently holds the general counsel seat at the Burbank, California-based company, but is due to retire at the end of the year along withother Disney executives. The entertainment and media conglomerate has not yet named Braverman's successor. Disney representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on plans after Braverman's retirement.

ESPN first hired DeVane as assistant counsel in 1997 from Connecticut law firm Wiggin & Dana. In 1999, she took a brief break from the company to become a senior associate at now-defunct firm Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn, but returned a year later as assistant general counsel, and later associate general counsel.

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Xiumei Dong covers legal industry news, with a focus on law firm strategy and growth, in-house counsel and the Washington, D.C., legal market. Reach her at Xiumei.Dong@thomsonreuters.com.