ESPN appoints next top attorney

Dec 13, 2021
Diane Morse to retire at end of 2022 after 25 years in the legal department

ESPN has appointed Eleanor ‘Nell’ DeVane chief counsel, effective next month.

DeVane has spent more than two decades in ESPN’s legal department over two stints and has been a deputy chief counsel since 2012. She will succeed Diane Morse, who is retiring at the end of 2022 after 25 years in the legal department and having led it since 2015.

In her new role, DeVane will report to Jimmy Pitaro, chair of ESPN and sports content, and the general counsel of The Walt Disney Company. Alan Braverman, senior executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of The Walt Disney Company, is retiring at the end of the month.

DeVane will head up the legal work supporting the ESPN and sports content group, which acquires and produces ESPN’s live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content for The Walt Disney Company’s cable channels, the ESPN+ streaming service and ABC.

DeVane originally joined ESPN in 1997 as assistant counsel having spent four years with law firm Wiggin & Dana in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1999 she left the company to be a senior associate with the Connecticut firm Tyler Cooper & Alcorn. She returned to ESPN a year later as assistant general counsel and in 2005 was promoted to associate general counsel before taking up her current position.

Pitaro says in a statement: ‘Nell is an optimistic, solution-oriented executive who brings a keen legal mind, proven track record and sharp business acumen to this critical role. Diane has been an incredibly valued partner and a key contributor to our success, and Nell knows she has big shoes to fill. We are confident she will succeed because of her exceptional abilities and the respect she has earned from our leadership team.’

Braverman adds in the announcement: ‘Over the years we have worked together, Nell has impressed me with her deep knowledge of the business, her skills as a lawyer and the respect with which she is held within the organization. Also, I want to thank Diane for the numerous, invaluable contributions she has made over the years. As much as she will be missed, we are fortunate to have a successor as worthy as Nell.’

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