Principal Owner, Pilgrim & Associates; Acting Executive Director & General Counsel, Track & Field Athletes Association, Inc.
Jill Pilgrim’s distinguished career includes decades of experience working in the legal, sports business and corporate environments, as an attorney, strategic business consultant, international consultant, arbitrator, entrepreneur, law professor, speaker, and published legal author. Ms. Pilgrim is principal owner of Pilgrim & Associates law firm, and the Acting Executive Director & General Counsel of the Track & Field Athletes Association, Inc. (TFAA). She has built a national reputation as a prominent business, sports and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) lawyer and advisor.
In the fall of 2017, Ms. Pilgrim assumed the part-time role of Acting Executive Director & General Counsel of TFAA. In this capacity, she assists professional track & field athletes build and strengthen a nonprofit organization that serves as the collective voice for professional track and field, road racing and race-walking athletes. TFAA works to improve, and raise the profile of, the business of professional track & field.
Ms. Pilgrim’s career spans a diverse array of work environments; big law, in-house counsel, solo law practice and higher education. As the general counsel of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), Pilgrim rendered legal advice and handled matters ranging from corporate governance to dispute resolution, policy matters, protecting intellectual property rights, contractual relationships, member services and athlete eligibility. Prior to joining the LPGA, she spent eight-and-a-half years as general counsel and director of business affairs for USA Track & Field (USATF), the Olympic governing body for the sport of track & field. At USATF, Pilgrim’s responsibilities included rendering business and legal advice to chief executive officer, president, board of directors and staff of the organization. She also worked collaboratively with the volunteer membership to develop and implement new business policies and practices. As such, she was part of the management team that oversaw, planned, and conducted over 150 national championships and other programs and events annually.
In the realm of ADR, Ms. Pilgrim is an independent hearing officer for the New York State Gaming Commission and an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association for commercial and domestic Olympic and sports disputes. She also served on the Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Infractions. In addition, Ms. Pilgrim is a long-serving securities industry arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (formerly, the National Association of Securities Dealers).
On the charitable side, Ms. Pilgrim is the founder and president of the Center for the Protection of Athletes’ Rights, Inc. (CPAR), a nonprofit advocacy, education and legal service provider for low income members of the U.S. athletic community.
As an educator, Ms. Pilgrim taught “The Globalization of Sports” and “International & Comparative Sports Law” as an adjunct professor in the Columbia University School of Professional Studies & Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía (ISDE) Companion Masters in Sports Management & Masters in Global Sports Law Program. She previously developed and taught “The Olympic Games & the Law” course at the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to that Ms. Pilgrim taught “Legal Issues in Sports” for the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management Program.
Ms. Pilgrim’s legal career began as a tax and corporate associate at New York City law firms, including Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Cowan Liebowitz & Latman. In 1990, she established her own private law practice, Pilgrim & Associates, which she returned to after her respective tenures as general counsel at USATF and the LPGA, after running a sports consulting agency, Precise Advisory Group.
Ms. Pilgrim was Marquette University School of Law’s National Sports Law Institute 2018 Joseph E. O’Neill Award Recipient, for making a significant contribution to the sports industry while exemplifying the highest ethical standards (October 2018). She was also recognized by the Columbia University Black Law Students Association as a Paul Robeson Distinguished Alumni Honoree (February 2018). In 2005, Ms. Pilgrim received the Larry Ellis Track & Field Distinguished Alumni Award from Princeton University’s Friends of Princeton Track alumni association.
Columbia University’s Black Law Students Association as a Paul Robeson Honoree, in February 2018.