Jennifer Gottschalk ’16, IRONMAN Counsel, Walks the Walk

  • Alumni

“The fact that I can be an attorney and have time to train for IRONMAN races is an ideal balance to strike in life,” Gottschalk said. “People out there should know they can have their IRONMAN too, whatever that is for them.”

“When I compete in these races, I can’t see a single sign or aid station without thinking about the sponsorship agreement we drafted to go along with that.”

Jennifer Gottschalk ’16 began the 2019 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championships in Nice, France, with a 1.2-mile swim in the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Coming out of the water, she and her competitors proceeded to a 56-mile bike ride featuring a steep climb up the Col de Vence, which was part of the sixth stage of this year’s Tour De France. It was the most difficult bike course Gottschalk has raced.

After an intense descent winding back down the mountain, the championship athletes concluded the race with a 13.1-mile run along Nice’s historic Promenade des Anglais waterfront amid enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

Gottschalk’s husband, Devin, was on hand to place a finisher’s medal on his wife’s neck after she crossed the finish line.

“I remember telling myself towards the end of the bike ride and as I was starting out on the run, ‘No matter what, when you cross that finish line you have something to be super proud of today,’” Gottschalk said. “That is definitely how I felt.”

Another special part of the triathlon for the UC Hastings alum was that Gottschalk works for IRONMAN and competed alongside some of her co-workers in the event held in early September. Her role as contracts counsel at the company’s Tampa headquarters is another reason why more than just the stunning scenery caught her attention during the race. 

Always the Attorney, Even in Competition

“When I compete in these races, I can’t see a single sign on course or an aid station without thinking about the sponsorship agreement we drafted to go along with that,” Gottschalk said.

She drafted all of the athlete waivers for the main events, as well as associated events in France. Her role at IRONMAN also includes drafting and negotiating host venue agreements, event license agreements, sweepstakes rules, and various operational and service agreements.  

Because IRONMAN is a global company that hosts events all over the world, Gottschalk said she regularly deals with international law, working with colleagues in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It has all made her experience at the company, which she joined in March 2018, exciting and fulfilling.

“Much like our IRONMAN athletes, I’m passionate about what I do and am grateful for the people I get to work with and learn from every day,” Gottschalk said.

Gottschalk knew she wanted to work in sports when she arrived on campus at UC Hastings in 2013, so she diligently sought out internships and externships that would help make that a reality. She said the Bay Area was a great location to do so because there are so many sports entities based here. 

In her 2L year, she worked as a law clerk for the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. In her final year of law school, Gottschalk externed with the Pac-12 Conference and Networks. She said drawing on that experience has been incredibly valuable in her work at IRONMAN, especially because the conference is comprised of universities in six states.

“When I was performing research or drafting contracts, I’d have to keep in mind the laws of six states, just like now I have to consider the laws of different states and countries,” Gottschalk said.

Joining the UC Hastings Moot Court team and the Association for Communications, Sports, and Entertainment Law was also beneficial to her future success, she said, as both opportunities helped her build important connections and prepare her for the work she does now.

Life Work Balance and Paying It Forward

In order to help pay it forward, Gottschalk has judged some Hastings Moot Court practices since graduating. She also has agreed to mentor Hastings students who may be interested in pursuing careers in sports law or working in-house, noting that she benefitted from great mentors both at the law school and through her work experiences.

Gottschalk said she hopes her story serves as an inspiration to law students wanting to chart a similar course while maintaining a manageable work-life balance. In early November, she completed her first IRONMAN 140.6® in Panama City Beach, Fla.

“The fact that I can be an attorney and have time to train for IRONMAN races is an ideal balance to strike in life,” Gottschalk said. “People out there should know they can have their IRONMAN too, whatever that is for them.”