Jill Pilgrim’s distinguished career includes decades of experience working in the sports business and corporate environments, serving as an attorney, arbitrator, entrepreneur, law professor, international consultant, speaker, and published author of several legal articles in national academic and trade publications.
Pilgrim, a Precise Advisory Group co-founder, has built a national reputation as a prominent sports and entertainment lawyer. As the former general counsel of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), Pilgrim rendered legal advice and handled matters ranging from corporate governance, dispute resolution, policy matters, protecting intellectual property rights, contractual relationships, and member services and eligibility. Pilgrim utilized her many years of Olympic sport drug testing expertise to assist the LPGA with the design and launch of professional golf’s first player drug-testing program in 2008.
Prior to joining the LPGA, she spent 33-plus years in the Olympic sports world: eight-and-a-half years as general counsel and director of business affairs for USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body for track and field; 10 years as a volunteer for USATF; and more than 15 years as an athlete.
While at the USATF, she was responsible for overseeing in-house legal and business affairs departments, handling event, sponsor, supplier and other contracts as well as disciplinary and grievance procedures. She gained valuable experience as the staff liaison to a variety of United States Olympic Committee and national governing body committees, including the Anti-Doping Task Force, Age Verification Task Force, Diversity and Leadership and Committee on Sports for Disabled.
Pilgrim is a highly sought after expert in alternative dispute resolution matters. In 2014, she was appointed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Infractions, the body that presides over administrative hearings related to allegations of NCAA rules violations. In 2015 she was appointed as a hearing officer for the New York State Gaming Commission, and Ms. Pilgrim has served as an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. for over a decade (1992-2006) and is currently a long-serving an arbitrator for the NASD’s successor organization, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (2009-Present). Pilgrim previously served appointments as an arbitrator on the USA Track & Field Doping Hearing Board and the Doping Appeals Board for athlete drug cases (1991-1998) and was appointed to United States Olympic Committee Out-of-Competition Drug Hearing Board (1991). Ms. Pilgrim successfully represented an athlete in arbitration before the Court of Arbitration for Sport during the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games.
Pilgrim’s teaching history includes her current principal lecturer role creating and teaching the “International & Comparative Sports Law” course in the Columbia University School of Professional Studies & Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía (ISDE) Companion Masters in Sports Management & Masters in Sports Law Program (Spring 2016); creating and teaching “The Olympic Games & the Law” course at the University of Miami School of Law; and teaching “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.
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 law private practice, Pilgrim & Associates. During her work in private practice, she serviced clients in nonprofit, sports and entertainment industries and handled real estate, estates, guardianship, and corporate transactional legal matters.
Pilgrim is a frequent speaker and panel participant at leading academic and professional institutions, and is often requested for national media commentaries and interviews as a result of her decades-long experience in entertainment, sports and general business practice issues. Throughout the years, she has appeared on The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Court TV, CNN, CNBC, BCAT, and Channel 13 (NYC Public Television) among others. Pilgrim also has authored and co-authored numerous published legal articles on topics related to sports law.
Pilgrim is a current or past member of the American Bar Association, Sports Lawyers Association, Women in Sports and Events and the Black Women Lawyers’ Association. She also has a long history of serving and holding leadership roles on numerous boards and committees, including: as a Princeton University Alumni School Committee member (2010); Advisory Board member, National Sports Law Institute of Marquette University Law School (2006-present); Princeton University 30th Reunion Committee, Class of 1980; Columbia University School of Law 25th Reunion Committee, Class of 1984; Board member, Jobs for Florida’s Graduates (2007-2008); Board member, Central Indiana Tennis Association (2005-2006 Marketing Committee); Board member (1999-2005), Sports Lawyers Association (2002 and 2003 Conference Chair; 2003-2005 Membership and Public Relations Committee Chair); Strategic Planning Task Force (2005-2008), Women’s Sports Foundation; Board member, National Junior Tennis League of Indianapolis (2001-2003); Indianapolis Bar Association Entertainment & Sports Section Executive Committee (Chair 2001); founder and president, The Center for the Protection of Athletes’ Rights, Inc.; Chair, Friends of Princeton Track (1989-90;) Princeton University Alumni Council (1987-91).
Pilgrim was born in London, England. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Princeton University in 1980, where she also was a nationally ranked sprinter for the Princeton Track and Field Team. She studied at the Alliance Française and Sorbonne in France, prior to graduating with a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1984. Pilgrim works and resides in New York City.