Sunday Insider: The McCourt case whiz

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 1, 2011 - 12:19 AM

While the owner of the Dodgers goes through a bitter divorce, a law student at the U of M keeps tabs via a popular website.

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Josh Fisher, who will graduate this spring from law school, set up www.DodgerDivorce.com as a personal exercise. Fisher made English of all the legalese because “I knew the words.”

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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University of Minnesota law student Josh Fisher wasn't sure what to expect 18 months ago when he started www.DodgerDivorce.com, but thousands of readers now turn to him for insight into the astonishing divorce trial of Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.

Fisher, 25, has been a guest on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and a regular on Los Angeles radio shows. He has more than 1,650 Twitter followers, and his website has generated more than 77,000 unique visitors.

"Josh knows his stuff," said Bill Shaikin, who has covered the divorce story for the Los Angeles Times. "His site has become a must-read for fans wondering what happened, and what it means."

It all started when a friend e-mailed Fisher the first court filings in the divorce case. As journalists started wrestling with all the legalese, Fisher quickly decoded the meaning, analyzing the impact each proceeding could have on the Dodgers.

The McCourts' outlandish spending habits -- they had seven mansions and reportedly skimmed more than $108 million from the team for personal use -- came to light as the team was raising ticket prices and slashing payroll.

Would the Dodgers be able to sign their 2010 first-round draft pick? How about those long-overdue improvements to Dodger Stadium?

"I think the situation was this perfect confluence of celebrity and baseball and gossip and law and high-end business," Fisher said. "I came into this at a perfect time because I knew the words. That's really all it was; I knew the words."

Following the case from Minnesota, Fisher's own interest was piqued because he had grown up as a Dodgers fan. Born in Minneapolis, he moved to Southern California with his mother as a youngster after his parents divorced.

Fisher majored in English with a minor in business at the University of Kansas. Between his junior and senior years, he worked for Wells Fargo Capital Finance in Minneapolis.

After returning to Minnesota for law school, Fisher found a way to make a bigger name for himself, providing expertise on the trial.

"I saw a door open, and I walked through it," he said. "I think the education of that is, now I know those doors exist."

Last year, Fisher took time away from class and a job with a Wayzata law firm when he twice paid his own way to attend the McCourt trial in Los Angeles.

What, exactly, has been in all this for him?

"The practical skill that has served me well as an accidental journalist," he said, "is that I've developed an ability to manage information very well and use information as currency -- buy it, sell it, trade it, knowing when to use it, when not to use it."

Fisher graduates this spring. He has finals this week and will soon start his new job as an associate with the Bryan Cave law firm in Kansas City. He'll take the bar exam in July and pledges to continue following the McCourt ownership saga.

Last week, commissioner Bud Selig appointed former Texas Rangers President Tom Schieffer to oversee the Dodgers' business operations, and Frank McCourt fought back, calling Selig's actions "un-American."

"The site will go on for as long as there's a utility to it," Fisher said.

His readers are counting on it.

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