Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Scoring a winning legal career in ‘Oil Country’      

From the bleachers to the boardroom, Edmonton’s Imran Hussainaly is a team player true to his Oilers

(April 27, 2017)

Imran Hussainaly, Law’05, inside the Rogers Place arena, home of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
Imran Hussainaly, Law’05, inside the Rogers Place arena, home of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

During the 1980s, hockey fans in Edmonton had front row seats to one of the most exciting teams ever to take the ice. Imran Hussainaly, Law’05, a born-and-raised Edmontonian, fondly remembers cheering on his hometown team. Now he’s back with a new connection – as Senior Legal Counsel with Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG). 
Given the club’s history and promising future, you can imagine he’s working his dream job. “There is no shying away from demanding hours in the legal profession, especially within the competitive sports and entertainment industry, but working for the team I grew up watching, I can’t help but smile and be thankful.”
Hussainaly, who studied economics at the University of Alberta before attending law school at Queen’s, worked in the aerospace and telecommunications industries before joining OEG in 2014. He was also joining two other Queen’s Law grads who are counsel to NHL organizations – Emilie Nicholas, Law’09 (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Chris Gear, Law’98 (Vancouver Canucks). (See QLR 2015)  

All three enjoy the variety of working in sports and entertainment. Hussainaly negotiates sponsorship agreements for the Edmonton Oilers and the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings and works on premium seating, new business ventures, broadcast and licensing agreements and hockey-related litigation.

But the job’s not all about local hockey. OEG works with international sports and entertainment companies to develop or bring significant events to Edmonton, including the Professional Bull Riders Global Cup, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup (a Canadian, Czech and Slovak hockey collaboration), the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, and concerts ranging from Kanye West to Garth Brooks. “It’s a dynamic and exciting environment!”
And yes, he can watch his beloved Oilers; the design of their new “home” makes it easy. Before moving to Rogers Place in the heart of downtown Edmonton, the Oilers played for over 30 years at Rexall Place, where management offices were separate from the arena. “Now,” Hussainaly says, “if I need to reflect on some issue, I can take the stairs from OEG headquarters, walk the concourse and even watch a practice.” 

With the arena so close, taking in its variety of events isn’t merely a perk, but an opportunity for engagement. “Any in-house counsel wants to remain connected to their business and customers. I’m just fortunate our business is sports and entertainment.” 
One of his favourite spots in their new digs is Ford Hall, an enclosed bridge structure leading into Rogers Place. Another is the new Oilers Hall of Fame Room, where last November he hosted Dean Bill Flanagan and a gathering of fellow Queen’s Law grads (see photo on pg. XX) and organized a behind-the-scenes tour. “When we host guests from across Canada and abroad it’s amazing to see their reaction to Rogers Place” he says. “To see it through a visitor’s eyes reminds you how remarkable this building is.”

He went on a tour – and enjoyed “an experience unique to Queen’s” – 13 years ago at Herstmonceux Castle, where he’d gone to study in the Global Law Programs directed by then-Professor Flanagan. Besides the “majestic setting” in the English countryside, the program had an impact on his outlook, as did the intellectually engaging cases he studied in Advanced Constitutional Law, taught by the “creative and committed litigator” David Stratas, Law’84 (Justice Stratas since 2009). 

It wasn’t any particular course that prepared him for the job he’s doing now but rather, he says, “the Queen’s environment, which is really collegial.” 

That camaraderie is part of his new job too. “Teamwork is part of our DNA here at Oilers Entertainment Group, along with integrity, innovation and excellence. For us, success isn’t just on-ice performance, although that’s important, but our entire organization is constantly striving for excellence and taking it to the next level.” 

And as far as he’s concerned, what better team could he be on? 

By Georgie Binks