When thinking of acumen and prowess in the NBA, male basketball stars likely come to mind, but two minutes with Raquel Libman will make anyone reconsider. Educated at Yale, Oxford and the University of Miami, Libman has served as executive vice president and general counsel for The HEAT Group since 2001.
Libman’s job is connected to every legal element and detail of both the AmericanAirlines Arena and the Miami Heat, from advertising and promotion agreements to player contracts, trades and immi- gration visas. “I think of in-house counsel as the legal version of a hospitalist. We deal with constant triage and have to know enough about a very broad range of topics,” Libman says. Dealing with this kind of variation and complexity requires constant teamwork and innovative thinking, which invigorates Libman, particularly because her organization “values out-of-the-box thinking, encourages creativ- ity and rewards smart ideas.”
The HEAT Group’s support for original thinking is made clear by the fact that Libman is one of only a handful of women who serve as general counsel in the NBA. When asked about being a woman in a field often viewed as part of the male domain, Libman doesn’t flinch or falter. “You have to have guts to say no to certain people in certain situations, and I’m not afraid to do so. But it’s still so nice to work at a place that actually values that you are likely to have a different perspective, and more than that, actually counts on it.”
Ultimately, Libman is an inspiration, not only because she is taking on the glass ceiling, but also because she approaches her work in a way that buoys up other women to follow in her footsteps. “I try my best to be accessible to the younger women in the organization and elsewhere who are coming up in the ranks, to help them navigate through the challenges of professional growth. In large part, I try to encourage them to have confidence in their own voice,” Libman says. “It’s easier today than it was in my generation. Nevertheless, biases still exist in the workplace. The professional working world is not completely egalitarian, but you deal with your reality and strive to be part of the long-term solution of changing that mindset.”
Photo courtesy of Miami Heat