Chief Counsel Pahl set to retire; Morse named successor

I have had the privilege over many years at ESPN to have worked with many smart, dedicated people who have made countless and significant contributions to our success. I am pleased to say that our friend and colleague David Pahl is unquestionably among those at the very top of that list. So, it is with a large dose of appreciation, admiration and best wishes that we announce David’s decision to retire from the company early next year.

David is today less than one month shy of his 28th anniversary with the company having served now over 20 years as our top legal officer and the head of our legal department. In that time, he has overseen massive change in the size and scope of our endeavors; the way creative content is defined, licensed and managed; hundreds of negotiations, litigations and all manner of machinations involving literally billions of dollars of deals on our largest and most important matters; coordination and cooperation with the entire Walt Disney Company legal community; preservation of the company’s brand and good name; and support for every corner of our now worldwide enterprise. It is a body of work distinguished by integrity, superb legal skill, the ability to find a way to get things done and a sense of humor and humility putting all who were involved always at ease.

Diane Morse.  (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Diane Morse will succeed David Pahl as ESPN’s Chief Counsel early next year.
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

We will have more to say about David’s sterling career here when it comes to a close next year but for now a simple “thank you,” while insufficient, seems best to mark the moment.

Of course, the hallmark of any good leader is to pave the way for those who follow and here too David has more than met the test. I am pleased to announce that Diane Morse will succeed David in the position of ESPN’s Chief Counsel upon his departure.

Diane is an almost-20-year veteran of ESPN, having joined the company in April of 1996. During that time, Diane has worked in virtually all of the areas of the company’s legal practice. In particular, her expertise in league and conference negotiations and agreements is unmatched. During her tenure, she has gone from individual contributor to leader of a strong and balanced team of professionals, the members of which she has coached and mentored, and who have come into their own under her leadership. These skills will apply seamlessly to her new role, in which she will acquire oversight for the company’s entire legal function.

Prior to joining ESPN, Diane was an associate at Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, a Washington, D.C. media law firm where she practiced in the intellectual property group. Diane previously spent time working on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Consumer Protection and Finance. Diane graduated with a degree in Film from San Diego State University and received her law degree from Duke University.

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