Assistant General Counsel
Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA)
A Major League Mentor…
Jeffery Fannell, ’96, works for Donald M. Fehr, Derek Jeter,
David Wright and the countless fans of America’s National Pastime -
Baseball. In his role as the Assistant General Counsel of the
Major League Baseball Players Association a typical day for Mr.
Fannell may include interfacing with players who have been traded,
released or suspended from their team, responding to the inquiries
of agents representing the 1,200 players on MLB rosters or
negotiating contracts and other agreements for the benefit of all
MLBPA members. These general duties are designed to safeguard
a player’s rights. Today’s baseball fan may ponder, “what
rights of today’s ballplayers need to be protected?” As
the Assistant General Counsel of the MLBPA, all of the rights
outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and other
negotiated agreements need to be enforced and protected.
The road to the Major Leagues has not been an easy one for Mr.
Fannell. Married with young children while attending law
classes by day, and working at night in the public relations
industry, Mr. Fannell was determined to attain success at the only
Law School to which he applied – St. John’s. As an individual who
pursued a legal career later in life, Mr. Fannell likes to say, “I
didn’t go to Law School – my family went to Law School. We
were all focused on my success, doing well in class, passing the
bar exam and contributing to the community. This was a time
of sacrifice for me and my family.”
While studying Mr. Fannell was interested in Entertainment and
Sports Law, but career research confirmed that even the most major
law firms at the time had smaller practice areas focusing on this
niche, hence it would be terribly difficult to break into this
field. Being a sports fan that persevered through baseball,
football and hockey work stoppages and strikes, Mr. Fannell
realized that the road to sports law travelled through the
disciplines of labor relations and collective bargaining.
While at St. John’s Law, Mr. Fannell loaded up on classes
pertaining to this practice area. The effort paid off and
after graduation, Mr. Fannell accepted a position with the National
Labor Relations Board in New York City. He later moved on to
the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C. where he gained valuable practical
experience and an exposure to the concept of mentoring.
The AFL-CIO recognized early that lawyers must be leaders in
society. With this philosophy, a formal mentoring program was
established by the AFL-CIO for young attorneys and law students who
reflect the AFL-CIO’s membership base. Mr. Fannell embraced
this concept and became a regular mentor to individuals seeking
career advice through the program. After accepting a position
years later with the MLBPA, Mr. Fannell continued to participate in
the effort. Mr. Fannell has mentored over fifty young
attorneys since graduating from St. John’s School of Law.
Ever mindful that the path he traveled to being an attorney was not
an easy one, he remains committed to advancing the careers of
others, including many of the students he has taught while serving
as Adjunct Professor at St. John’s School of Law.
This emphasis on “service to others” took on a new meaning when Mr.
Fannell answered a call of spiritual origin. Always
interested in teachings of the Bible, Mr. Fannell led religious
studies in his community. In 2006, a higher calling led him to
establish the On Good Ground Christian Fellowship, a
non-denominational church in Columbus, New Jersey. In April
of 2006, On Good Ground Christian Fellowship was officially
recognized by the State of New Jersey as a not for profit
organization, with Minister Jeffery Fannell as its pastor.
During this time, Mr. Fannell wrote his first book, Ministry
Brings the Blessing.
Mr. Fannell, ever the mentor, offered the following advice to
today’s law student, “keep your focus on attaining the skills
needed to be a sound attorney. Research, writing,
presentation and client skills are essential in the practice of law
regardless of the name of the firm on the door or on your business
card. With these and other skills in hand, there will always
be a market for your services.”