Lawyers Involved in the Next BIG Event | Kobi Wright & Eric Neuberger

Season 2, Episode 1 | January 5, 2022

00:00:00 00:00:00
Show Notes

All eyes will be on Indianapolis as the College Football Playoff National Championship Game is scheduled for Jan. 10, at Lucas Oil Stadium. On this Leveraging Latitude episode, Tim Haley talks to Kobi WrightChief Legal Officer & Business Operations Director for the Capital Improvements Board of Managers (CIB), and Eric Neuburger, Attorney & Stadium Director for Lucas Oil Stadium, about their unexpected career paths and their work to bring this game (and other high profile events) to the city of Indianapolis. They also talk about remaining open to opportunities that may come into your life as you never know where they will take you.


Kobi Wright 00:00

Find a way to get involved politically. Doesn’t mean you have to be a true partisan person, but that doesn’t hurt either. But get involved in some kind of way because when you do as a lawyer, you become helpful to people and that opens the door to other opportunities that you never imagined you’d have.

Candice Reed 00:17

This is Leveraging Latitude: Cultivating a Full Life in the Law. And we are your hosts, Candice Reed.

Tim Haley 00:29

And Tim Haley.

Candice Reed 00:30

Please join us on our journey as we discover how to leverage the hard work of becoming a lawyer to achieving success and leading a rich and fulfilling life in the law.

Tim Haley 00:45

Well, Candice, it’s 2022. How are you feeling?

Candice Reed 00:50


Tim Haley 00:51


Candice Reed 00:51

Tired, but ready to go. Ready for a new year. Happy New Year, everyone.

Tim Haley 00:55

Happy New Year. We have a very cool show today, and we’re going to be talking some sports. And I’m going to discuss the Power I Formation in football, transitioning your offense from a more traditional running game into the spread game that’s taken over the pros. And Candice is going to talk about the defensive adjustments to counter everything that I don’t know about. So what do you think, Candice, are you good?

Candice Reed 01:17

Yeah, I’m good. I’m good.

Tim Haley 01:20

So the funny thing about that is –

Candice Reed 01:22

I do know what defense does, they’re the ones trying to keep the other team from scoring. So I did grow up, or I did go to school at a big sports school. At the time, we were considered a football school. It’s the University of Tennessee. That hasn’t necessarily been the case in recent years as anyone who follows college sports knows. And sadly, my husband, who is a Georgia fan, follows college sports and he reminds me of it every season.

Tim Haley 01:54

Probably every Saturday, right?

Candice Reed 01:55

Yeah. Right. Every Saturday in the fall. But I have watched a number of football games in my day and so, all those words make sense just not together.

Tim Haley 02:06

Well, I don’t want you to feel like I’m poking fun at all because anyone who knows football would listen to that and say, that was just gobbledygook, it was just gibberish.

Candice Reed 02:16

Isn’t that what people think about what we say most of the time?

Tim Haley 02:20

You’re right. Like lawyerspeak. That’s right. Like, “Oh yeah. Well, maybe.” Anyway. So what we have today, we’ve got a giant college football game coming up on Monday, it’s the National Championship Playoff culmination, National Championship game. It is located here in my city, just down the street from where I’m sitting right now at Lucas Oil Stadium. So today, we’re going to talk with…I mean, one of the things that, you and I talked about it a little bit, Candice, is, I mean, yeah, these are cool events and they’re fun, but we’ve got lawyers working these things.

Candice Reed 02:50

Yeah, it really is interesting to hear and to realize just how involved the lawyers are in events that we don’t necessarily consider to be legal events, right? I mean, these are, like you said, sporting events. And I’m sure there are a number of other events that take place at Lucas Oil Stadium as well as all of the other sports venues across the country. And it is interesting to hear and to learn how lawyers are involved in making sure that these events are successful and just the different types of jobs that some lawyers have. We heard about all of those non-traditional jobs when we were in law school, and you’re going to be talking to two people who are actually living that dream.

Tim Haley 03:38

Yeah. Yeah. It’s exciting for me. Today we’re going to talk to Kobi Wright, who is the Chief Legal Officer for… Let me make sure I get this right because his title is pretty long. He’s the Chief Legal Officer and Business Operations Director for the Capital’s Improvements Board of Managers, which is a municipal corporation here in Indianapolis. He’s their general counsel effectively. And then, also Eric Neuberger, who is a lawyer, but also the stadium director for Lucas Oil. So let’s dive in and see what they’re doing this week.

Candice Reed 04:09

Sounds great.

Tim Haley 04:17

Well, hi, and welcome back to Leveraging Latitude. I have two very special guests today, first is Kobi Wright. Kobi is the Chief Legal Officer and Business Operations Director for the Capital Improvements Board of Managers as we know it locally here in Indianapolis, the CIB. Hi Kobi. How are you?

Kobi Wright 04:35

Wonderful. How are you doing?

Tim Haley 04:37

I’m great. And Eric Neuberger who, take off the fourth wall here, I think I’ve known Eric since we were in preschool together. Eric is the stadium director of Lucas Oil Stadium, so he’s also an employee of the CIB here locally. Welcome Eric.

Eric Neuberger 04:54

Thanks Tim. Yeah, you’re my oldest friend, so I appreciate the intro.

Tim Haley 04:58

Now I’m old. I like it. Now the, CIB, Capital Improvements Board, let’s start there. Kobi, this is for people that are outside of Indianapolis, maybe even some people who are here in Indianapolis. What is the CIB and what exactly then is your role within it?

Kobi Wright 05:17

The CIB, its legal name is governed by an Indiana statute that creates us, it’s called the Capital Improvement Board of Managers of Marion County. It is a part of what’s called Unigov that was created, I believe in the year I was born, in 1971 or ’72. And Unigov is the government that is the unique form of government that’s in place for the City of Indianapolis in Marion County in which you have the City of Indianapolis government, then you have the Marion County government of which is geographically, that’s almost all the counties in the City of Indianapolis. And then, there are six municipal corporations that are attached to the City of Indianapolis and Marion County, that’s the CIB, the airport, the bus company, the library, the Bond Bank and Health and the hospital, which is Marion County Health Department, people have come to know it now, and Eskenazi Hospital.

Kobi Wright 06:10

Those municipal corporations are in some cases quasi-governmental entities, which is where we are. And they call it quasi because we’re supposed to operate as if we are a for-profit business, given that we have clients that use our spaces such as the Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium and then other for-profit entities such as the Pacers – Indiana Pacers – and the Indianapolis Indians who lease the other building, the Victory Field.

Kobi Wright 06:37

So it’s a quasi-governmental entity that has nine members of a volunteer appointed board appointed by the mayor to the governor to the city county council. And what I do at it is I chiefly negotiate contracts, I oversee litigation to the extent we have any and risk management, including the insurance portfolio, and recently became the diversity equity and inclusion officer for our corporation. So it’s a mouthful.

Tim Haley 07:09

So you have a lot of hats in a really big organization. And just to recap quickly, I think, so we have under your purview then as the stadium where the Indianapolis Colts play, the Indiana Convention Center, which hosts a lot of conferences annually, at least pre-COVID anyway, and the Gainbridge Fieldhouse where the Pacers play, also Victory Field, where the Indians play. Is that it? That seems like a lot.

Kobi Wright 07:34

That’s correct.

Tim Haley 07:39

And Eric, we’ll zoom in a little bit. I mean, this is the week of the College Football Playoff National Championship game, at least leading up to it, and you are the director of the stadium in which that game will be played, which is the next in a long line of big events that we’ve hosted here.

Eric Neuberger 07:55

Yeah, it’s a real honor to be part of this event in particular. It’s going to be the first time that the College Football Playoff National Championship game has been in a northern city. And so we’re ready to make sure that the visitors coming to town and the local folks have a lot of things to do and they’re going to walk away feeling really good.

Tim Haley 08:14

That’s awesome. I mean, Lucas Oil, everyone knows it nationally, probably, primarily because of the Indianapolis Colts. That’s not all you do either, there’s a lot of other things that fall under your purview. Can you give us a sample of some of the stuff you do on a day-to-day?

Eric Neuberger 08:28

Yeah, I mean, here at the stadium, our primary tenant, of course, is the Indianapolis Colts, and that’s governed by a 35-year lease that began back in the early-2000s and when the building opened in 2008. So we spend most of our time trying to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward and making sure that those events go really well. Because unlike a lot of NFL stadiums, we operate this as the governmental entity and the NFL franchise does not operate it directly. So we work together. And what that leaves is many other dates throughout the year that we can coordinate with the other venues around town with Visit Indy and the Indiana Sports Corporation to really try to maximize all the spaces that we have in the city so that we can get the biggest and the best events to Indianapolis. And I think we have a long tradition of doing that, especially with our Final Fours and most recently, the entirety of March Madness here in Indianapolis.

Tim Haley 09:25

Yeah, that was amazing. So you guys both have really cool jobs. This is a podcast for lawyers. How is it — I mean, both of you would sat on the stair, maybe in the auditorium or whatever, got on the stage at your law school and graduated — How is it that you got from that day to this one? I mean, what was it planned? Did it just happen or what was your path? Kobi?

Kobi Wright 09:49

I can tell you, without a doubt, it was not a planned. My plan was, by no means, to be where I’m at today. But I’m very happy that serendipity and good luck and some other folks, and the Lord himself, I guess, divined to put me in this place. I grew up in the far northeastern part of Indianapolis with the intention of leaving Indianapolis and never returning home. And so, I was educated in college and law school in New England. Spent a little time overseas in between law school and college and thought I was going to practice law in New York City or the District of Columbia. I had a family illness, so I came home and started work at a big law firm, so that’s not too atypical, as a corporate transaction attorney.

Kobi Wright 10:38

And then, I got a phone call one day from the then lawyer to Mayor Bart Peterson who said, “We just bought the water company. How would you like to go and work as general counsel for the newly acquired water company for Mayor Peterson?” And as a result of that, that led me down a road where I kept going in and out of the public sector. Half of my career has been in the public sector in Indianapolis, half of it has been in the private sector, either in-house at a Fortune 500 company or at the law firm. And I came back to the public sector in 2017 or 2016, and then, ultimately, came to work for the CIB, which is something I never even thought was a possibility, I didn’t even know how you could get to become an employee of the CIB when I was a kid growing up here. I knew what it was, but I never thought of being an employee here, but I’m very happy about it. But it was definitely not planned.

Tim Haley 11:35

And Eric, how about you?

Eric Neuberger 11:36

Well, I’m a guy who’s always wanted to work in sports my entire life and so, went to Indiana University here where I studied public affairs and then, did graduate work at Ohio University studying Business and Sports Administration, and went to law school later here in Indianapolis at the IU McKinney School of Law. And really did that for a number of reasons, one of which, I saw how important being able to speak the language, being able to solve problems, being able to identify risks and exercise, good judgment. And so, I never thought I would be running a venue, never in my wildest dreams. I spent most of my time either working…

Eric Neuberger 12:20

Unlike Kobi, I’ve actually spent my entire career in the public sector, first, for the State of Indiana, working for the Indiana Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness and Sports, and then, for Indiana University in the athletic department there where I left as senior Associate Athletic Director. And then, really very, very quickly and unexpectedly ended up here at Lucas Oil Stadium when my predecessor who had been managing the NFL venues in Indianapolis for over 30 years left for another opportunity. And very quickly I found myself back in Indianapolis moving up from Bloomington and have really enjoyed. This is now my fifth NFL season at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Kobi Wright 12:58

And I would add – if I can really quick, Eric – and I, I’m going to say, we become brothers from another mother in our employment here at the CIB. Eric started two weeks before I did.

Tim Haley 13:13

Oh my gosh.

Kobi Wright 13:15

And the CIB has a good workforce, but people tend to stay here for a while. So we were the newbies that came on together in leadership positions, so we’ve coalesced a bond as a result of that. And he’s underselling himself because he is no less than the person who oversaw either the development or the renovations of all of the sports facilities that currently exist in Indiana University, including what I call the shrine of the state of Indiana, Assembly Hall, which I would never have wanted to be in charge of renovating that. But he did and he lived to tell about it and it was a success. So yeah, Eric’s come a long way.

Tim Haley 14:00

That’s awesome. Now, Kobi, I’ll apologize to Purdue fans on your behalf for that. Assembly Hall is quite a facility for sure.

Eric Neuberger 14:09

You don’t have to worry too much about them, Tim. There’s no law school in West Lafayette.

Tim Haley 14:16

So here we go. We’ve got a giant game coming up, but it’s not just a game. And so, Eric, I think this question’s to you. I mean, what all is activated in Indianapolis in the anticipation for the game and what all are you going to be spending your time on this week as the game approaches?

Eric Neuberger 14:34

Well, I’ve had the opportunity to be in a leadership role amongst the host committee throughout the entirety of the process, so Kobi and I, back early when we started at the CIB, worked on the bid for this. And it really is more than a game, and that’s right up the alley of Indianapolis where we’ve spent decades really making things more than a game. So the idea here is that people visiting from out of town, and people from in town, can be a part of it because there’s only 68,000 tickets available to actually watch the game. But we expect to have many more people feel like they’re a part of it, either the thousands of people who are volunteering or by attending some of these ancillary events.

Eric Neuberger 15:13

So a few of those are the Playoff Fan Central, which is the fan fest, and that’s taking place at the Indiana Convention Center. We really think that that is going to break all sorts of records in terms of folks attending. It’s really fun. The activations are of the highest quality from all the sponsors that take part in the CFP. There’s also the Championship Tailgate, which is another kind of extreme tailgating type of experience that happens outside where people can be part of the environment that these big events bring to the city. There’s Media Day, which is a whole ‘nother event on a different day where you can actually get your earpiece and listen, change amongst the channels and listen to what’s going on. There’s a 5K, encourage people to sign up for that because the medals are really cool and you get to basically get a tour of all the cool venues in town. And there’s a Taste of the Championship, which is a food and beverage showcasing local food. And then, of course, there’s the concerts. We got Doja Cat and 21 Pilots and everybody that are going to be performing on Monument Circle in Indianapolis. So hey, whether you have tickets to the game or not, there’s something for you and some surprises up our sleeves as well.

Tim Haley 16:24

The fun thing for any Southerners out there that might be scared of the cold or the wind or the weather, a lot of these venues are connected indoors. So if you wanted to and if you stayed at the right hotel, you could never go outside, if that’s what you wanted or you could go outside and have a blast.

Kobi Wright 16:43

That’s one of the things that the actual convention center – for those folks who don’t know, the Indiana Convention Center where I’m sitting right now and the building where Eric is sitting, the Lucas Oil Stadium, are connected, but the convention center is connected to most of the hotels that are in Downtown Indianapolis, and that’s by design. So we market ourselves to the world as the most connected convention center in the United States. And so, you’re dead right on.

Tim Haley 17:12

Yeah. So this week, again, leading up to the game, Eric, what are you going to be working on? Is your schedule just putting out fires? Is the hay in the barn or are you still trying to finish something out?

Eric Neuberger 17:25

Yeah. Well, so starting right after the Raiders game, we start preparing all the physical pieces that go into it that we haven’t been able to do before the NFL season ends. So there is a whole lot that is happening this week, and we think we have it all planned out. And my philosophy on all of this, and it’s not unlike lawyers planning their strategy for trial or for anything, is that you try to get all the things you can control under control so that when the inevitable curveball comes your way, you can put your attention to that.

Eric Neuberger 17:59

If all is going well, I’m really making sure that the quality is up to our standards and that the building looks great, that the teams and the students that are taking part in the event are having an amazing experience. And if there is something that goes awry, I’m working to solve it because we have a great set of problem solvers in this town. And that’s where being a lawyer, I think, really helps being able to understand the situation you’re in, make good judgment calls, and be able to move on, hopefully, without notice of anybody in attendance.

Tim Haley 18:33

Yeah. And Kobi, how about you? I mean, you’ve done a lot of work already, what are you working on this week?

Kobi Wright 18:40

Well, for me, my goal is to be invisible, not only because it just helps doing work, but it also is a matter of operations at a facility during the event. As you mentioned before, my title is Chief Legal Officer, that effectively makes me general counsel to the place. I shouldn’t get involved in anything at this stage unless a real problem comes about, unless we’re amending the agreement. But the agreements are all in place. The vendors are here.

Kobi Wright 19:11

The other role that I have, the business operations director piece, which I didn’t clarify earlier, means that human resources and health safety and environmental report to me as well for the CIB. So in that sense, if there is an HR issue from some of the folks who are working on setting up the stadium and the Convention Center for the playoffs, then I’ll become involved. But even then, I shouldn’t be visible, the folks who work underneath me should. And health and safety, hopefully, that doesn’t come into play at all. And the way we’ve done things here, particularly COVID related in terms of the investment of millions of dollars over the past year, that shouldn’t be an issue as well. So I remain busy doing other stuff and then if Eric needs something, he’ll tap me on the shoulder and say, “I need something now,” and then, I’ll drop what I’m doing.

Eric Neuberger 20:07

And we’ll hope that that doesn’t happen because then we know we’re in trouble.

Tim Haley 20:12

So Kobi, you mentioned COVID, it’s the 800-pound elephant in the room and has been for the last two years. Is there anything about where we are anyway with COVID that is — I mean, I’m sure there’s contingencies on contingencies, is there anything that you’re particularly worried about or hopefully, we know enough to at least be ready for this, at least whatever it is?

Kobi Wright 20:35

It’s not in my disposition to say that I’m not worried, especially since I’m paid to worry, but I’m not that worried. And the reason why I’m not that worried is because Eric’s staff has been living with COVID since we opened back up. After the quarantine lifted last year and during the quarantine and after the quarantine was lifted by the governor in Marion County Health Department, the CIB has spent so much money to make the facilities even safer than they were. For example, the Convention Center right now is the busiest it’s ever been since it opened in 1972. That doesn’t seem to make sense, but the reason is because everybody who had their events planned in the first and second quarter of this year, they rescheduled them all for the third and fourth quarter of this year, and they’re trying to make up for last year having no event. So we’re very busy and we have this 360-degree Clorox cleaning system, hospital-grade filters, more cleaning schedules and touchless bathrooms that are in both facilities, all of which cost millions of dollars. So we’re in a good place.

Tim Haley 21:49

That’s great. And I mean, to hear you summarize it all in two minutes or three minutes or whatever, that belies the hours and hours and weeks of work that went into doing it from you, but also a lot of people, I think that’s something to be proud of.

Eric Neuberger 22:04

Hey Tim, I would add in there that Kobi’s been so instrumental in making sure that our plans make sense and that they’re smart and safe. We started doing publicly ticketed events in July of 2020, if you can believe it, when we had our USL team that was playing at this venue at the time. And we’ve really just been on a build ever since. And I’d say March Madness became a really big feather in the cap of the city, but it also proved that the things we were doing were working. And now we are almost through the regular season of an NFL season. And we’ve remained a very safe environment, and that had to do with testing, that had to do with cleaning, that had to do with education, had to do with staffing, all those things. But here we are. So we’re tracking on COVID because we’d be foolish not to, but we believe that we have a setup that will allow fans to safely gather here.

Kobi Wright 23:05

And I would add that as a tax paying citizen of the United States and the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana, I think that our tax dollars have gone to good work. Remember, we’re a governmental entity and we have gotten the help and may continue to get the help of the City of Indianapolis, the State of Indiana, and no less than the United States, the federal government to try to right the ship as Eric and others went back to work in July of last year. Because it was tough times for us and we lost quite a bit of money, but for the generosity of those entities, we would’ve faced tougher times and we wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things that Eric and I are talking about.

Eric Neuberger 23:50

Tim, you need to know too that we took a really reasoned middle approach to many decisions that had to be made last year so that we kept our staff working. That’s very unique in this environment that there were many venues that completely shut down, furloughed, laid off. I’m not saying we didn’t have to make very painful cuts, but we smoothed out those highs and lows during those difficult times and that really helped us restart this engine much quicker than others might’ve been able to.

Tim Haley 24:23

Yeah, no, that’s all fantastic. And we’re talking about COVID and everyone kind of knows the timeline of COVID like March 2020, right? When did you guys start working on this game in particular? Because yes, we’ve had the massive COVID issues that has hit everybody, but the hospitality industry particularly hard, but you guys were already planning when that stuff started, right?

Eric Neuberger 24:49

Yeah, I’d say back in November of 2017 when we were awarded the event, we immediately began trying to think of the creative things that our community is going to do. But in terms of really planning the nuts and bolts of what happens at the stadium for this game, for all intents and purposes, you start about two years out putting together plans and then refining that. Well, that got interrupted big time, so while we started, we paused and reassessed. And they did have the National Championship game in Miami last year, it was different. And this is going to be more like what people are accustomed to, but still there are differences. So we’ve gone through iterations upon iterations. Our friends from Dallas that own the CFP have spent a lot of time in Indianapolis working with our team on the ground to make sure it fits our city, which is different than doing this in Los Angeles or New York or wherever else you might be able to put on a big event. Indianapolis is uniquely situated to be able to do this the way that event owners want it to be executed.

Tim Haley 26:01

Kobi, your role in this probably also began early on in 2017. When was the peak? And understanding that like most lawyers, you’ve got multiple things happening at the same time – but at what point in time were you spending the biggest portion of your day working on the events coming up here for the Championship?

Kobi Wright 26:21

The peak was when Eric mentioned we first realized that we were in running in November of 2017, getting the bid together, putting the bid documents together, putting together the agreement and supporting documents. And I’m a contract lawyer by training and I’ve only appeared in a courtroom as the general counsel of an entity that I’m employed by, but I’ve never tried a case, I’m not a litigator. So I started drafting as soon as we heard that we were in the running. So most of my work was at the very beginning. And it’s only been afterwards when there’s been issues that come up and questions that come up about the agreement and what we have to do in terms of getting certain labor unions in place to do what they’re supposed to do to staff the facilities during the event and interpreting their contracts to see how they’re supposed to service the event. That may continue all the way up until shortly before the actual event itself. But the majority of my work was early on.

Tim Haley 27:34

That’s interesting. It’s interesting how that all kind of shifts out. Yeah. So here’s a question leading up, and this is probably more for Eric for this week, and Kobi, I’ll ask you too, for periods of time that you’re swamped: how do you manage stress in those periods of time? And Eric, I mean, are you going to do anything special this week just to keep it under control or are you going to plow through?

Eric Neuberger 27:55

Oh, a little of all the above. I’m lucky I’ve got a great support system at home with my wife and our family, so that really helps. I do try not to be sleeping in my office because I don’t do my best work in that situation. So I really try to make sure that I have everything I can control controlled beforehand and then that really limits what I have to stress and worry about. Now, the days are long and I know myself enough to know at what point sleep becomes absolutely critical and so, I really work to try to make sure, especially on days where I can do it, to make sure I get that sleep in the bank, so to speak, because that week’s always difficult. But at the same time, it’s fulfilling and it’s enjoyable and so, that kind of smooths out the highs and the lows of stress. But as you know, we have stressful jobs, we kind of thrive in it, but if you don’t do the things you know work for you, then you’re going to find yourself making poor decisions when the going gets tough. So that’s my approach.

Tim Haley 29:09

How about you, Kobi? I mean, I know if all goes well, this week is easy for you. But how about in high stress times?

Kobi Wright 29:09

In high stress times — fortunately, I’ve had my primer on how to deal with stress before in this as a lawyer. One of the jobs that I had in the public sector in Indianapolis was serving as Mayor Peterson’s Corporation Council. So in that capacity, I felt like I was never sleepy, but I had to eventually learn to go to sleep because my mind was always racing as to what the next shoe is going to drop. Inevitably it’s going to drop. There’s a million-plus people here and that live in the city and I’m the mayor’s lawyer – something’s going to go wrong, and I’m trying to think ahead before it goes wrong.

Kobi Wright 29:46

And so, what I learned to do when I was up in the middle of the night pacing in my head, or pacing literally, was just to try to find a way to slow my brain down. So if I wind up waking up in the middle of the night, I get online and read the New York Times, the Washington Post, and then after a while I see what’s going on in the world and then, dose on off to sleep. Or if need be, as I’ve gotten older, I’ll get up and go outside and take a walk regardless of what the time is. And I did that this morning at five in the morning. I don’t normally do that, but I found myself needing to relieve some stress that way. So I’ve learned to listen to my body, I used to not to, I would just soldier on through and pound it out and that’s what a tough lawyer does, but that’s not the contemporary health and wellness approach. So I’m trying to approach things a little different.

Tim Haley 30:40

Kobi, there’s a lot of research that backs you up on all of that, so no, that’s great. Two more questions, maybe three. But as we’re preparing for this particular event, what are you looking forward to most?

Eric Neuberger 30:53

Well, for me, I love college football and so, when I think about this event, I think about the bands, the marching bands, the things that differentiate college football from professional football. I love those elements. The thing about this, the College Football Playoff Championship game is that it honors teachers, so the people that get honored are near and dear to me. I just look forward to the festivities, that big event energy. That big event energy has been slowly building back after a period of decline due to the pandemic, but it is going to be back for this. And so, I’m really excited to feel that crowd and to feel the energy in Indianapolis.

Tim Haley 31:37

Awesome. Kobi, how about you?

Kobi Wright 31:39

Yeah, to quote my mom, I’m going to amen what Eric said and say there’s no question. I found myself during the quarantine phase of the pandemic when I was watching, like a number of us who were sports fans, watching either the Michael Jordan special series. One of the main things I enjoyed about the series was just looking at the crowd in the stands and I was lusting the sight of the crowd and hearing the crowd because of course, that was not happening and it was becoming depriving to not hear it and see it.

Kobi Wright 32:16

So for me, I’m a football fan, but I love the fact that you have, I mean, of course, you have Alabama, this is what they do, but it’s still very impressive and all their fans that are going to show up and as well as the other entities. And you’ve got Michigan, who it’s been a while, and they’ve got the former quarterback from the Colts being the heir apparent – over there leading the university. And then, you’ve got the Bearcats, I mean, those guys, you’ve got to anticipate that their fans are going to be unhinged because when has that happened? And then, the Bulldogs, I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what Eric mentioned: the roar of the crowd and all those fans who are rabid to support their teams in their university and their alma maters or their current and enrolled status of students. It’s going to be wonderful.

Tim Haley 33:12

Yeah, loyal listeners of our podcast know that connectivity, one of the things they never talk about in law school and we probably never hear about when you’re working, but just being connected with other people, how important that is to being a good lawyer, but also being fulfilled and happy as a human. And I hear you guys both talking about the massive connectivity that you’re looking forward to most. And I think that’s right. I mean, having lived in the Super Bowl here and March Madness and just feeling as though we’re all a part of something huge, it’s really cool.

Tim Haley 33:45

So last question. We might have some younger attorneys listening to this or even mid-career attorneys or even maybe experienced attorneys, any advice for them based on your experiences with this game, but just coming up in the sports world? Anything that you think, if you could give one piece of advice to the lawyers out there, what would it be?

Kobi Wright 34:04

I hope it doesn’t sound trite, but stay open-minded. Like I said, I grew up here. I went to Brebeuf Jesuit and then went to Brown University and Cornell Law School. I fully intended to never step foot in Indiana again other than to visit my folks. And then, I got the education to do that. But life has a way of going differently than you planned, so I stayed open to opportunities and I had to come home. And sure enough, like I said, I got that phone call that I definitely didn’t expect. And I certainly at no point expected to be Mayor Peterson’s lawyer ultimately. And I never expected to go work for a diesel engine manufacturer and work on a billion-dollar lawsuit. And then, culminating eventually to coming back to public service and working alongside Eric who’s managing an NFL stadium. There’s no way that I planned on doing that, but I’m very happy with that.

Kobi Wright 35:03

And the only reason that it worked out that way is that I did not just stay in a lane. There are those who can do that, I realized I couldn’t, and I’m glad that I didn’t. So if this is a path that someone would think they want to do and a vocation that someone would think they would want to do in their future, I just will remain open. And then I do have one plug. I had a former reporting partner or a reporting partner as my boss at my old law firm who counseled young attorneys or people midway through their career to get engaged. Find a way to get involved politically. Doesn’t mean you have to be a true partisan person, but that doesn’t hurt either. But get involved in some kind of way because when you do as a lawyer, you become helpful to people and that opens the door to other opportunities that you’d never imagined you’d have.

Tim Haley 35:58

That’s great advice. That’s fantastic.

Eric Neuberger 36:00

I’d give advice that’s parallel to that because everything Kobi said is spot on in my opinion. And then, one other thing that I always relied on and has helped guide me is volunteering, whether it’s politically or just something you care about. I always cared about events and sports and amateur sports in particular. And so, if you charted in more detail than we would talk about on here the path of my career, there was always some element of volunteering, doing something I wanted to do that turned into something that also provided for my family. So all of us have those, whether it’s music, whether it’s church, whether it’s whatever it is, sports, in my case, you find these paths and they lead places and it’s been an awesome journey so far.

Tim Haley 36:53

That’s great. Yeah, Kobi, I will share this briefly, I was like you, I left home. Eric knows this. I left home when I was 18, in my mind, I was never coming back, but here we are. It’s just funny how it happens.

Kobi Wright 37:08

That’s right. My brother who lives in New York City teaches me about the fact that I literally live, if I was in great shape and I actually had a good arm, I could throw a stone and hit my elementary school from where I live now.

Tim Haley 37:25

That’s amazing.

Kobi Wright 37:25

Quite not a turn of events.

Tim Haley 37:27

Well, Kobi and Eric, thank you so much for joining us today. Good luck in the days to come and with the event, the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Yeah, enjoy it. And I’ll talk to you guys soon.

Kobi Wright 37:40

Thank you.

Eric Neuberger 37:41

Thanks so much for having us, Tim.

Candice Reed 37:51

Wow. Thank you, Tim. That was such an interesting conversation. I really enjoyed hearing from both Kobi and Eric, and I appreciate you giving us that behind the scenes look into the big game as well as their careers and how they got to the point that they are at.

Tim Haley 38:10

Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I do have to make a confession to you and to all of our listeners, just a little one, we’ll break the fourth wall a bit, I actually recorded that conversation well before New Year’s 2022. So the time we recorded, we didn’t know who was going to be in the National Championship, but that makes sense because there’s no way, as you hear, there’s probably no chance I’m going to get an hour of Eric’s time the week before the big game.

Candice Reed 38:37

Yeah. I’m assuming that they’re a little busy right now, hopefully, Kobi isn’t, as he said, hopefully, he’s like on a beach somewhere reading a book. Do you think that that’s what he’s doing?

Tim Haley 38:47

I don’t think it’s that relaxing.

Candice Reed 38:50

Yeah, maybe not. One interesting point that they both made in different ways, I think, is a good mantra for 2022 for all of us is to keep an open mind. Kind of remain open to the possibilities, not just in your career, but the possibilities and opportunities that may come forward in various domains of your life. I think that that’s a good place to start for 2022 and some good advice that we could all take.

Tim Haley 39:24

Yeah, it’s a beautiful sentiment. We are roughly five days into a brand new year, resolution season as I say, so yeah, why not? Let’s open our minds a little bit more and see what else is out there for us.

Candice Reed 39:38

Sounds great. I can’t wait till the next conversation.

Tim Haley 39:41

Have a good one. See you everybody.

Tim Haley 39:44

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