NFL team Chicago Bears raids NBA’s Miami Heat for CLO

Krista Whitaker will head the Bears’ legal department following departure of veteran GC Cliff Stein in January

Soldier Field stadium, current home to the Chicago Bears Grimlya10 /

American football team Chicago Bears has hired Krista Whitaker as chief legal officer, replacing general counsel Cliff Stein, who left the franchise in January.

Whitaker joins from NBA team Miami Heat, where she was associate GC. She brings with her extensive sports law experience to lead the Bears’ legal department, where she will provide legal counsel and support across a range of matters. 

She is joined in the legal team by Andrea Zopp, who will serve as a senior advisor for legal and business affairs. Zopp joins from global venture capital firm Cleveland Avenue where she was a managing partner.

Kevin Warren, Chicago Bears president and CEO, said: “[Whitaker and Zopp’s] combined expertise and dedication to excellence will be invaluable as we navigate complex legal issues, develop innovative programmes and drive strategic initiatives, including the development of a new Chicago Bears stadium.”

He added: “With Krista’s deep understanding of sports law and Andy’s extensive leadership experience throughout Chicagoland, we are poised to elevate our legal operations to new heights.”

Whitaker spent just over three years at Miami Heat, joining as senior associate counsel in 2021 before being elevated to associate GC in 2022, providing strategic legal advice, counsel on day-to-day operations and negotiating sponsorship and media rights matters. Prior to that, she spent five years in private practice as a corporate associate at Proskauer Rose.

She said: “I am really excited to innovate with the senior leadership team and bring the Bears to the forefront in Chicago and the NFL and the sports world, generally. To be a part of that at this time is really exciting.”

Her predecessor Stein left in January after 22 years with the Bears. He joined in 2002 from Colton & Stein, where he was a partner. He has been practising law since 1994.

His departure came after the Chicago Bears finished in last place in the NFC North division in the 2023/24 NFL season.

Fellow NFL team Buffalo Bills hired Terry Gilbride as its new CLO in November after it dismissed its previous GC Kathryn D’Angelo for having a ‘professionally unethical’ relationship with chief operating officer John Roth.

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