“My daily to do list and what I end up actually doing are usually very different!”
Darren Braham’s words describe the practice of every in-house lawyer. But as General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Spartan Race, the variety of tasks on his plate is wide. One day, he might visit the site of a race (there are more than 120 of them around the world). The next, he might be negotiating with strategic partners on a project like opening the first ever Spartan Gym, which recently opened in a South Beach hotel or dealing with national sponsors such as Panasonic or TomTom. Other days, he might be on the phone with NBC. The network televises races on NBC Sports and launched a competition-based reality show, Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, last year on NBC Broadcast.
If that wasn’t enough to fill a work day, he also oversees the company’s insurance and intellectual property portfolios, as well as managing the company’s litigation working with outside counsel. Part of Braham’s work centers around liability concerns, and the safety of participants, which is paramount.
Or maybe you’ve done a race yourself. Spartan Race hosts a popular event at Fenway Park every November, one, Braham, said he loves because of the iconic status of the venue and the proximity to the corporate offices in Boston offering Spartan’s HQ personnel to experience the product. The Fenway race is a “Sprint,” which means it’s about three miles long (as opposed to Spartan’s longer Super and Beast races). The obstacles in the path of the participants range from the expected – such as ropes and walls to climb – to the unexpected, like a cargo net participants must scale alongside the
“Whether it’s the vendors, venues, sponsorships and transactional matters that go into producing a race …my to-do list is about 45 different things outstanding, and inevitably, something new comes up every day!” Braham said.
Spartan Race has four production teams in the US and Braham states “an important part of our risk mitigation process is to make sure practices are consistent at every race.”
Braham ensures the company’s trademarks are protected around the world, from competing organizations as well as well-meaning participants who may design t-shirts or other race materials that unintentionally infringe.
Braham has been with the company for nearly three years, and in that time, the relatively new industry of popular obstacle course races has proliferated.
“It’s been a fun few years since I’ve been here. Spartan Race and the sport of obstacle course racing has grown exponentially and it’s been quite a ride: personally and professionally. When I thought about moving in-house, being involved in every aspect of the company really appealed to me and this role has not disappointed,” he said.
For an attorney whose background is not in litigation – Braham practiced commercial and corporate law in a firm setting before joining Spartan Race – the learning curve was swift. But Braham embraced the challenge with enthusiasm, delving into other matters related to intellectual property, insurance, brand building and event planning that had not previously been part of his repertoire.
On moving in-house, Braham offers two pieces of advice: go to a company that offers a service or product that you can personally get behind, and remember that you will always have something to do when you get in to the office tomorrow.
“It’s very different being at a law firm where you’re billing your time and making sure that everything is perfect. You’re dotting “I”’s and crossing “T”’s – which is what paying clients expect and should receive,” Braham said. “Working in-house, I’m constantly drinking from a firehose and I don’t have the luxury to spend the same amount of time on matters as I did in a law firm setting. I make sure the company is protected, but if the formatting is off, then so be it!”
He does, however, have the luxury of being able to catch a race now and again.
“When you’re in HQ in Boston, it’s very different from being on a mountainside in Breckenridge, Tahoe, or Killington. Breckenridge’s highest obstacle is almost 13,000 feet up in the air, and we have 10,000 to 12,000 people running through a 15 mile course around the mountain,” he said. “It’s a very positive tribal atmosphere and it’s gratifying to see the legal department’s work become realized.”