Alumni Spotlight — Meet Maggy Carlyle

by Anna Sago

Growing up, Maggy Carlyle ’11, was always surrounded by football. She remembers cheering first for the Dallas Cowboys and later for the Chiefs after she and her family moved to Kansas City.

After receiving a degree in strategic communications from the University of Missouri and spending time working as a teacher, Carlyle never saw herself working in sports — especially after she made the decision to return to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri Law School.

“I didn’t go to law school thinking I would go into sports law. My only experience with law was litigation and criminal justice law,” Carlyle said.

At Mizzou Law, she toyed with the idea of pursuing a variety of practice areas, including criminal and civil rights law. However, Caryle’s academic interests and an internship experience ultimately led her back to sports.

“My favorite classes were probably Contracts,” Carlyle recalled. “That was surprising to me. I wasn’t expecting to like Contracts, but I loved it.”

Her interest in contracts, combined with her experience at the University of Missouri athletic department and an internship in the Kansas City Chiefs General Counsel office, ultimately led her to build a career in sports law. Throughout her career, she has worked for a variety of teams and leagues, including the NFL, the San Jose Sharks and the Pac-12 Conference. Currently, she serves as senior vice president and general counsel for the Detroit Lions.

In the roles Carlyle has held within teams and conferences, she has assisted with a variety of legal tasks, from negotiating player contracts to enforcing new rules to dealing with fan emergencies. While the tasks have remained somewhat similar from position to position, Carlyle’s favorite thing about her current role, she said, is working with other team members.

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to work with one team, one sport in one in one location … and figuring out how to work with and support all the different stakeholders in our organization — whether it’s the folks who sell tickets or the coaches or our personnel or our facilities.”

Throughout her career, Carlyle has learned new skills as well as improving upon the ones she learned as a law student. One of the most critical lessons she took from her legal education was the ability to organize a legal argument, she said.

“One of the most applicable classes I took, and probably most law students take, is legal drafting,” she said. “If you organize something well, then it will be more effective in communicating, whether or not you’re arguing or advocating for something or drafting a contract in and of itself.”

Looking back, Carlyle would tell law students to expand their view of the law. The law touches so many facets of daily life, she said, that there are opportunities in countless fields.

“There are lawyers for everything,” she said. “There’s some aspect of society or some interest that applies to every aspect of it, whether you’re into music, or you’re into fashion, or you’re into sports, or you’re into criminal justice or social justice.”