Jim Lawson (sports executive)

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James J. Lawson is Chair of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Football League, a businessman and lawyer.[1] Lawson has served twice as interim Commissioner of the Canadian Football League.

His father, Mel Lawson, was a quarterback for the Hamilton Flying Wildcats leading them to a victory at the 31st Grey Cup championship game in 1943,[1] becoming the youngest quarterback to win the Grey Cup.[2] His grandfather, Charles C.Lawson was the owner of the Hamilton Wildcats in the 1940s and was one of the key engineers in merging the Wildcats and the Hamilton Tigers to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1950.

Jim Lawson is a graduate of Brown University (AB 1980) and the University of Western Ontario (LLB 1985) and signed with the Montreal Canadiens after being drafted by the Canadiens as the 120th selection overall in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft, playing for two seasons with their affiliated American Hockey League team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, before retiring to pursue a career in law.[1]

Lawson was appointed CFL Board Chair in 2013 and served as interim Commissioner of the Canadian Football League from January to April 2015 following the departure of Mark Cohon and until the hiring of Jeffrey Orridge.[3] Lawson served again as acting Commissioner of the CFL upon the departure of Orridge on June 15, 2017 until the appointment of Randy Ambrosie on July 5, 2017.[4]

Lawson is also currently the Chief Executive Officer of Woodbine Entertainment Group, Canada's largest racetrack operator, having previously served as its Chair (2012-2015).[1]

A lawyer by profession, he has been partner at Torys LLP and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. [1] He has served as a director of Algoma Steel, Zargon Energy Trust, Countryside Power Income Fund, Sleep Country Canada.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Jim Lawson appointed Chair of the Board of Governors". Canadian Football League (press release). September 16, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  2. ^ "Lawson heads parade into horse racing hall". Toronto Star. August 18, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  3. ^ "CFL names Jeffrey Orridge as new commissioner". Toronto Star. March 17, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  4. ^ http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/sports/cfl-commissioner-jeffrey-orridge-step-june-article-1.3048946