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Tulane sports law women build legacy symposium

March 28, 2022 9:15 PM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu

(L-R) Hanna Ryan, Jordan Reist, Kayla Williams, Lizzie Snyder, Jasmine Williams and Casey Driskill are the women of the organizing committee for the 2022 Tulane Women in Sports Law Symposium. (Photo credit: Tracie Morris Schaefer)


In small and big ways, sports have been a life-changing part of their lives.

One is a gold-medal-winning World Champion gymnast. Two were captains of their respective collegiate teams; one in rowing and the other in lacrosse. Another was a star basketball player, who not only excelled on the court, but also was her team’s representative for the university’s student-athlete advisory board. Two others worked behind-the-scenes in athletics operations, jumpstarting their professional careers by supporting their collegiate teams.

These are the women who organized the 2022 Tulane Women in Sports Law Symposium. In its fifth year, WiSLS, has been building momentum and connecting powerful women in the sports law industry to hopefuls at Tulane Law and beyond that are following in their footsteps.

WiSLS is a student-run event unlike any other, says symposium co-director Kayla Williams (L’23).

It’s a chance to celebrate the achievements of women in sports law and highlight the women professionals that are currently paving the way for us while emphasizing the importance of peer-to-peer networking, as well.

The two-day professional development and networking event brought five unique panels featuring women leaders across all facets of sport, practical skill-building sessions, and peer mentorship discussions.

“We are lucky to have such a committed and excited organizing committee dedicated to advancing this mission,” said Lizzie Snyder (L'23), who with Williams co-directed the event.

This year’s symposium was held in a virtual format, and streamed by On Location Live on March 18-19. It was sponsored by the Tulane Center for Sport through the David C. Meltzer Sports Law Excellence Fund and the Tannenbaum Family Sports Law Excellence Fund.

It drew about 200 participants and 32 law schools around the country were represented. Each panel boasted speakers with impressive resumes - ranging from front office executives, CEOs, agents, law partners, athletic directors, and commissioners from all over the country. They keynote this year, which honored the 50th anniversary of Title IX,  was delivered by Texas A&M Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach Sydney Carter a powerhouse women’s basketball coach, NCAA Champion, WNBA star and social media influencer.

Interested in supporting WiSLS 2023? Contact the committee here.

Catering to an audience of pre-law students, current law students, collegiate and pro sport professionals, and sports fans from all over the country, attendees heard from lawyers working in sports on the pressing legal issues of the industry and the how-to's of gaining success in a male-dominated industry. Unique to this year, the event included small group networking sessions where attendees were paired with peers and mentors for a more intimate networking experience, and a session on communication and interview skill development. 

"Representation matters. To see women and, most importantly to me, women that look like me in positions of leadership makes all the difference. But for representation to be most effective, the next generation of leaders also need to engage with that representation. By hosting 22 leaders in the industry of sports law, and exposing their stories to students from all over the country, we believe we were genuinely able to activate a new generation of leaders," said Williams.

Among the executives who took part in panels:

  • Kacie Wallace, Athlete Ombuds for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement;
  • Lori Williams, Deputy Director of Athletics for Leadership and Strategy at Louisiana State University;
  • Maura Smith, Associate Commissioner at the Sun Belt Conference Office;
  • Angie Torain, Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Chicago;
  • Ann Seeney, Chief People & Diversity Officer at the U.S. Soccer Federation;
  • Shameeka Quallo, Esq., Associate General Counsel for the Chicago Cubs;
  • Scott Pioli, Five-time NFL Executive of the Year who has worked for the Cleveland Browns, NY Jets and the Baltimore Ravens; 
  • Jaia Thomas, a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment attorney. 

In each session, WiSLS will address the panelists’ roles, responsibilities, and the legal landscape of their job, as well as the disparities they challenge and opportunities they create by assuming or creating, a seat at the table.

"The Women in Sports Law Symposium is an opportunity for law students to see the importance of diversity and woman leadership in male-dominated spaces like the sports industry. The goal of this event is to spotlight and learn from our panelists, while also facilitating peer-to-peer networking and relationship building” said Snyder.

See the program here

Symposium Co-directors Kayla Williams and Lozzie Snyder are rising third-year of law school students and already on track to make the event bigger and better, so that by the time the two graduate, it will become a Tulane Law legacy event.

Williams barely mentions it (it’s not even included in her Symposium bio), but she’s the first American World Champion gymnast on the vault. Her first-hand understanding of the pressures faced by women athletes brings direction and leadership to WiSLS. Snyder’s work in the several departments at Wake Forest University Athletics as a student, and later the development office at Purdue, is the foundation for the creativity and vision she contributes to the growth of WiSLS. 

Both are being mentored by a trailblazer herself, Tulane Law alumna Nina King (L’05) who last year made history when she was named the new athletic director at Duke University, becoming the first Black woman to hold the position, and only one of three Black women AD’s among Power 5 schools.

 Meanwhile, the four remaining board members, all of them rising second-year law students, have impressive sports resumes themselves and are poised to lead the event in the coming years.

Jordan Reist, former captain of the Women’s Lightweight Rowing Team at Stanford,  was involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and served as the Stanford representative to the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Team. She also did a stint with the Women Sports Foundation. She is an attendee coordinator for the Symposium.

Hannah Ryan, two-time captain of the William & Mary women’s lacrosse team, who was named to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) All-Rookie Team her freshman season.

Two-time Texas A&M graduate and basketball star Jasmine Williams (indeed, there are two Williamses on the committee, no relation to each other) represented her team for three years on the university’s student-athlete advisory council and as a community service coordinator. She is the symposium’s Sponsorship Coordinator.

Casey Driskill parlayed her media studies degree from the University of Virginia into the sports universe. She has worked with the football and women's basketball teams at UVA as a head video manager and later contributed her skills to Georgetown Basketball as a Marketing Assistant and Director of Video Operations before coming to law school. She is the Creative Coordinator of the Symposium.

 “Tulane Law and its sports law program develops our careers in sports law. As we continue to grow professionally, we see the importance of using WiSLS as a means to illuminate pathways for those that will come after us,” said Kayla Williams.

Interested in supporting WiSLS 2023? Contact the committee here.

Here is what these women in sports law say about themselves and their future lawyering goals:

Lizzie Snyder (L’23)

I am a 2L at Tulane Law, originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 2019 and worked for Purdue University Athletics in development for one year before starting at Tulane Law. I serve on the executive board of the Tulane Sports Law Society as Speaker Chair while pursuing the Certificate in Sports Law. During the summer of 2021, I was a legal intern at Fanatics, Inc. and Altius Sports Partners. I am passionate about college athletics and hope to work in the industry in some capacity after graduation. My ultimate goal is to become a Division I, Power 5 Conference athletics director.

 Kayla Williams (L’23)

I am a second-year law student, originally from Huntington, West Virginia. I came to New Orleans after a professional career in collegiate athletics. I am a University of Alabama alum for both my undergraduate (Public Relations, 2014) and Masters (Sport Management, 2015) degrees. After graduation, I utilized personal and academic experiences to contribute to multiple Power 5 conferences and the NCAA as a director at a sports marketing agency in Birmingham, Alabama. Concurrent with law school, I have mentored 2021 Olympic hopefuls through an athlete representative program, worked as a law clerk and athlete ombuds for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, interned in collegiate compliance at the SunBelt Conference, and currently serve as a law clerk for a civil rights and labor/employment practice. I will complete the Tulane Sports Law certificate in May 2023.

 Jordan Reist (L’24)

I am a first-year law student, originally from Larchmont, NY. I graduated from Stanford University in 2020 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Relations and Art Practice. While at Stanford, I was a four-year member and captain of the Women’s Lightweight Rowing Team. Additionally, I was involved with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and served as the Stanford representative to the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Team. These experiences, along with working for the Women’s Sports Foundation, were catalysts for my desire to pursue sports law. I am particularly interested in expanding access and resources for playing and watching, especially at the collegiate level.

Hannah Ryan (L’24)

I graduated from The College of William & Mary with a BBA in Marketing and a concentration in Business Analytics. While attending W&M, I was a four year starter and two-time captain on the Division I women’s lacrosse team, and was named to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) All-Rookie Team for my freshman season. I am excited to be a part of an event highlighting women in the sports industry and plan to continue my passion for athletics through a career in sports law. I, together with the rest of the organizing committee, hope to provide our attendees with an incredible experience and the chance to learn from top female leaders in sports law.

Jasmine Williams (L’24)

I am a two-time graduate of Texas A&M University from Houston, Texas. I have a bachelor’s in business finance and a master’s degree in education phycology. While in College Station, I was a four-year member of the Women’s Basketball team for three of those years I was the women’s basketball representative on the student-athlete advisory council. I was a two-year student-athlete service ambassador in charge of coordinating and facilitating community service events for the athletic department. I look forward to contributing to events that promote women in sports and provide a source of representation for young girls looking to enter this industry.

 Casey Driskill (L’24)

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2018 with a degree in Media Studies and Sociology. I worked with the football and women's basketball teams as a head video manager. After graduation, I joined the athletic department at Georgetown University where I was a Marketing Assistant before moving to the women's basketball staff as the Director of Video Operations. In this role, I had the opportunity to attend the Women Leaders in College Sports annual conferences, as well as other Big East events aimed at promoting women in sports. These experiences pushed me to pursue a career in sports law and to continue working towards greater opportunities for women in sports.