Interview with Sports & Entertainment Attorney Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner is the Founder of HEITNER LEGAL and Founder/Chief Editor of Sports Agent Blog, a leading niche industry publication. He focuses on sports, entertainment, and intellectual property litigation and transactional work, and is the author of two editions of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association. He has been a guest on Outside the Lineson ESPN and has been a regular contributor to ESPN, Forbes, and other publications where he is able to comment on sports-related issues. Darren is also a contributing writer of An Athlete’s Guide to Agents, 5th Edition, and has authored many sports, entertainment and intellectual property-related Law Journal articles. Darren earned his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida.

Over the years, I’ve read multiple posts and articles written by Heitner. He has without a doubt informed, taught, and inspired many of those who aspire to work in sports as an attorney. Darren Heitner is one of the most respected in the sports agent/sports law profession. After keeping up with all that he has done over the years, it is clear that he will provide great insight to all aspiring and current sports attorneys. Below is the interview:

 

TASL: Could you explain your journey as far as getting into the sports law world and how you went about working your way into this type of legal profession?

Heitner:  I never thought I would practice law. In fact, I started law school in 2007 at the University of Florida Levin College of Law with the belief that I would benefit from my studies in the pursuit of my ultimate dream – to be a sports agent and run my own sports agency. I had formed an agency immediately prior to beginning my law school studies and intended to put all my energy into growing the agency’s brand as well as its list of clientele. I focused on that for four years, including all three years of law school, forfeiting excellent opportunities to clerk at major law firms during the summer in favor of staying true to my goal of putting all my effort into the agency. That goal started to change after I sat for the Florida Bar examination. I returned home to Broward County and was presented with a unique opportunity to work at a small law firm that desperately desired to build a Sports Law division. They provided me the liberty to continue to work on my own sports agency as long as it did not interfere with my billing. If I was able to capture the minimum billable hours required (which I did with ease), I was then permitted to work on my agency as well as building a book of clientele for the firm. Ultimately, I decided that I preferred practicing law over attempting to grow a sports agency from scratch. I turned many of my competitors into clients, with them having a real appreciation for my knowledge and drive, and ability to represent their best interests. In turn, many of them have put their faith in me to also serve as counsel to their athlete clients, with full knowledge that I have no interest to compete against them as an agent.

 

TASL: What advice would you give aspiring sports lawyers that are in law school now and looking to find a job in the sports law world? What should they be doing now and what steps would you recommend they take both immediately and in the future?

Heitner: I engage in this type of conversation with law students all the time. If you are searching for a “Sports Law job,” then you are doing it wrong. There are very few law firms that have a legit Sports Law division. Instead, many law firms have their particular expertise (i.e. Family Law, Intellectual Property or Criminal Law) and then become a go-to referral whenever Sports Law matters arise. I suggest to law school students that they figure out what disciplines interest them, figure out whether location is important in a job search and make sure to research potential employers to see if personalities match or clash. Become an experienced practitioner, first and foremost. And always be building your brand. Do whatever you can to network with those in the sports industry while also showing off your expertise in a particular part of the small sports business world. Writing has benefitted me tremendously and it could serve as a Launchpad for others as well.

 

TASL: Where do you see the sports law industry going in the future? Is it a growing field or do you think it has leveled out? Are athletes, teams, and other sports actors in need of one particular type of law expertise over another (i.e. antitrust law, labor law, intellectual property law, etc.)?

Heitner: I focused on intellectual property when I was in law school and have seen a boom in the number of IP issues that athletes are focused on in my roughly ten years of practice. I do not see IP protection and enforcement being curbed anytime soon, and the space probably has a lot of growth left with regard to athletes and entertainers. As a whole, the Sports Law industry is pretty small. The team and league work is primarily relegated to big law firms like Proskauer. The player and agent work is spread across a handful of practitioners, outside of the agencies that have their own internal counsel that handle the bulk of the matters that confront the agents and their clients. I think there is always growth and potential for entry when there are people who provide something that is not currently being offered and are able to differentiate themselves from the competition.

 

TASL: The role of “Sports Agent” is one of the most sought-after positions in the sports business world—would you say that it is a profession worth pursuing given the saturated market of sports agents, regulations and hurdles required by the NFLPA, and the nature of the profession (i.e., financial demands of the job, stigma surrounding agents, competition)?

Heitner: The sports agent profession is worth it to pursue to the extent that those pursuing a position in the crowded space are aware of the high barriers of entry and costs, the small likelihood of success, the low margins, the sleepless nights, the client stealing and the non-stop travel. You must really be passionate about being a sports agent and be willing to sacrifice quite a lot in order to have success. I also believe that you must dedicate yourself to the profession and not split time between it and other practice areas if you truly wish to carve out a meaningful position for yourself in the industry. Sports agency is perceived to be a glamorous profession, but in reality it is far from the case. Truly study the profession, speak to people currently in the space (both at the top and those struggling to make it), soak up as much information about being a sports agent and try to get some practical experience before jumping head first into the deep end.

 

TASL: Last question, if you could give one piece of advice to those that aspire to find a career in sports law and have an impact in sports law like you have had, what would it be?

Heitner: You simply cannot fear rejection nor be dissuaded by others. Keep your head down, strive to be the absolute best and allow the job to consume you while also never forgetting to enjoy your life.

 

To read more about Darren Heitner and his takes on sports law, follow him on twitter @DarrenHeitner or check out his websites, Heitner Legal (http://heitnerlegal.com) and Sports Agent Blog (http://sportsagentblog.com).

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; questions answered by Darren Heitner.

Open Letter to Kirk Herbstreit, Vol Nation, and Coach Greg Schiano: My Thoughts Following One of the Craziest Weekends in Recent College Football History

After I was called a “clown” by college football analyst, Kirk Herbstreit, I felt compelled to write down my thoughts regarding the situation at UT, Greg Schiano, plus a small blurb on Kirk. Hopefully this provides a logical perspective during a time of chaos. Thank you for reading and God Bless.

Open Letter to Kirk Herbstreit, Vol Nation, and Coach Greg Schiano: My Thoughts Following One of the Craziest Weekends in Recent College Football History

After what can only be described as one of the craziest weekends in recent college football history and following slight public humiliation led by one of my former role models, I decided to write my thoughts on recent occurrences involving one of my favorite college athletic programs (University of Tennessee), the near-hire of Coach Greg Schiano by UT, and college football analyst, Kirk Herbstreit.

First, the Tennessee football coaching situation. While the backlash to Athletic Director John Currie has been overwhelming, heated, and arguably warranted, it appears that all of the major media outlets and social media platforms are getting away from what started this whole debacle. It can really be boiled down to this: Tennessee fans no longer want to be subjected to a mediocre football program or led by decision makers making mediocre (at best) decisions. With the past decade of Tennessee football being what can only be described as a wild and miserable roller coaster ride that is seemingly endless, UT fans and Tennessee taxpayers feel they deserve a coach with proven excellence in terms of numbers—no, a 68-67 record is not proven excellence, no matter how many credible coaches (i.e., Bill Belichick, Urban Meyer) defend Coach Schiano. And why shouldn’t the UT faithful feel that they deserve better? They pay for tickets, watch the games (live or on television) year-in and year-out, and pay for millions of dollars-worth of Tennessee athletics merchandise. Heck, UT is one of the highest grossing programs in the country and you mean to tell me that the best UT’s athletic director can do is give UT a risky hire who shows some promise? If any other fan base with a historic track record like Tennessee’s went through years and years of mediocrity, they would feel the same frustrations. For AD Currie to believe that UT supporters would feel happy or encouraged by the hiring of Greg Schiano would be blind ignorance—especially considering the fact that Schiano has a mediocre college football head coaching record, complaints by his former players about his coaching style, and other red flag issues that would concern any fan base. Does that list of issues not sound all too familiar to the UT fan base? *cough* Butch Jones *cough*. So, bottom line, UT fans are not, nor should they be, pleased with the hiring of someone with Coach Greg Schiano’s coaching history.

Second, I’d like to address Coach Schiano, the Penn State allegations, and his character/reputation. I try my best to be well-informed, reasonable, and logical with things as serious as the allegations against Greg Schiano. My honest thoughts on that situation and the UT fan base utilizing that history as reasoning why he should not be our head coach are simply that it happened to appear on a google search when someone was doing their research. I know I will probably upset some fellow UT fans when I say this, but while this subject appears to be of great importance, I strongly believe that this had little to do with the anger that was brought out on social media this past Sunday (it had more to do with a botched job by the AD and a lackluster—or dare I say negligent—vetting process). The allegations with Penn State just so happened to be the best possible way to justify the public outrage that fans were feeling when they felt inevitable football doom brought on them by a mediocre hire on the part of UT athletics administration. While the allegations are very troubling, I don’t have a factually supported and real reason to believe Schiano is a terrible person. According to other coaches—those who know him best—he is a man of high character, and I can’t really argue with that considering I’ve never met the guy. Did he cover up something that should not have been? Possibly. But the simple fact of the matter is that we do not know. My guess is that he was placed in an extremely difficult situation given his status with the Penn State football program and did not know how to handle it at the time the scandal was taking place. Either way, I digress because I do not know all the facts—plus, fortunately (or unfortunately in some people’s opinion), I have had the opportunity to understand the rules of evidence and hearsay as a current law student and know that none of the allegations added up enough to place Coach Schiano in a prison cell (obviously this logic and reasoning does not take an expert in the law to understand—cue the American legal doctrine of “innocent until proven guilty”). The allegations are simply a red flag that UT does not need anywhere near it at this very moment given the current state of the program.

Finally, to one of my former role models, college football analyst, Kirk Herbstreit. After being called a “clown” by someone I viewed as role model-worthy, it is difficult for me to understand what warranted his response, much less understand how his response was professional in any way, shape, or form. First, in all honesty, I called the man biased—which apparently crossed the line. While I wasn’t referring to his analysis of college football in general (I really think he is an unbiased analyst with educated opinions), I was responding to his bias and tweet concerning UT fans and the Schiano hire. And honestly, Kirk was wrong in this case. After all, Kirk and Schiano share the same agent, have ties to Ohio State, and, lastly, Kirk truly believes Schiano is a great hire. Nothing wrong with admitting your bias in particular instances—just own it and try not to berate those who look up to you and value your opinion.

Takeaways: UT fans should not be happy with this hire, and Schiano is not a “GREAT” hire for the University of Tennessee. The Penn State allegations, while concerning, served as the “Lusitania” for the unhappiness of UT’s fan base. Don’t share your opinions on social media or you’ll end up as a “clown” writing about his (or her) opinion in length on a situation that will be cleared up in a few days.

 

Thank you for reading and God Bless

–Dale Hutcherson

Upcoming Event: ABA Sports & Entertainment Annual Conference

Upcoming Event: ABA Sports & Entertainment Annual Conference

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend and enjoyed some time off. Now that you’re back, I want to make sure all readers interested in sports and entertainment law are aware of an awesome opportunity just around the corner in October.

Anyone who is interested or trying to work in the sports industry knows that networking and a constant pursuit of knowledge are key components to heightening your chances of finding an opportunity in the sports world. Well, I can’t think of a better opportunity to do both than the upcoming Annual Conference for the American Bar Association Forum on Entertainment and Sports.

This year’s conference is in Las Vegas from October 5-7 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and features an unparalleled lineup of industry experts, networking opportunities, and behind-the-scenes excursions.  As you can see from the agenda below, the conference will feature high-profile sports lawyers discussing of-the-moment topics, including public and private partnerships, buying and selling sports organizations, sports general counsel issues, disruption of the sports industry, and sports-specific alternative dispute resolution.

Represented organizations who you’ll see and have a chance to meet include the: US Senate, NFL Players Association, Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, DePaul University, Fox News, US Anti-Doping Agency, SXSW, US Swimming, JAMS, AAA, WME-IMG as well as the best firms in the country—Winston & Strawn, Arent Fox, Greenberg Traurig, O’Melveny & Meyers, Shepherd Mullin, Jenner & Block… just to name a few!

The ABA Sports & Entertainment Division is especially excited to welcome law students to their conference and expect representation from large and small law schools across the country.  The conference will provide law students with the access they need to abundant networking opportunities and practical advice and education on sports law careers.

As an added bonus, because ABA Sports & Entertainment recognizes that resources are often limited in law school, they are offering a significantly discounted registration fee of $195 exclusively to law students if you sign up by September 11, 2017.  Space is limited, so follow these instructions to get in on the action with your fellow classmates before it’s too late:

  • Register for the conference here.  Below and attached you will find a full schedule of events, as well as the full slate of conference speakers thus far.
  • Reserve your hotel room here. The conference room rate is $249 a night, plus 12% tax and a $30 resort fee.  Space is limited so please get your reservation in early.
  • Share with your network.  Please share the conference announcement with any fellow classmates or sports industry colleagues and feel free to publicize it in your social media feeds.

 

For more information on the ABA Sports & Entertainment Annual Conference, please visit the website: https://shop.americanbar.org/ebus/ABAEventsCalendar/EventDetails.aspx?productId=279389349.

Also, do not hesitate to reach out to me—I will gladly help in any way I can to point you in the right direction as far as getting signed up, registered, or answering any questions you may have!

As always, thank you for reading and God Bless!

— Dale Hutcherson

Event Review: 2017 Sports Lawyers Association Conference

Event Review: 2017 Sports Lawyers Association Conference

I apologize for the delay in posts, but I have had an extremely busy schedule as of late between school, an internship, and a new position with the ABA Sports Division.

With that said, I wanted to make sure and get back on track with TASL and give you all an overview of a great event I recently attended in Denver, Colorado. As you may know, there are a few national associations that deal with sports law in particular and that strive to inform others of happenings in sports law as well as provide networking opportunities for professionals and aspiring professionals seeking to break into the sports industry. One of these organizations is the Sports Lawyers Association.

The Sports Lawyers Association is a great resource for legal professionals interested in sports law and provides an experience that is sure to assist in making the right connections which can lead to numerous opportunities.

Not only is the professional networking unlike any other events I have had the opportunity to attend, but the panels, speakers, and events are one-of-a-kind. The SLA Conference also provides an opportunity to mingle and meet likeminded people who are trying to—and likely will—find their place in the sports industry.

An event like the SLA Conference is also exactly what potential employers are looking towards when they speak with aspiring professionals. Attending these events not only provides networking and learning opportunities, but it shows that you are taking the initiative to integrate yourself into a highly sought after professional community.

Do yourself a favor and make it a point to attend this conference at some point during your law school career or future professional career—you won’t regret it!

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 10.27.09 AM

For more information, consider joining the Sports Lawyers Association and check out everything SLA has to offer at this link: https://www.sportslaw.org

As always, thank you for reading and God Bless!

— Dale Hutcherson

Sports Lawyers Association Conference: Invitation to Connect

I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday. I just wanted to give a quick update on an important sports law event happening this weekend and invitation to network. I, along with several of my colleagues and friends, will be in Denver for the SLA conference this weekend and would be more than happy to meet and speak with any other aspiring sports lawyers and sports law professionals. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at dalehutcherson@yahoo.com. I am more than happy to meet and chat. 

I look forward to meeting and networking with everyone. Safe travels! 

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

Interview with Sports Law Pro/Writer/Professor Daniel Werly

There are many useful and interesting resources in the sports law world for keeping up with up-to-date news stories in sports law. One of the most valuable and versatile blogs I have come across is The White Bronco. It is useful and provides a wide range of information from articles concerning current sports law topics to legal documents from cases to a section that lists career opportunities in the sports law field. After reading through the blog regularly, I knew I had to find out more about the man behind the website—Daniel Werly—and I was not surprised to find out just how accomplished he is.

Werly, a Georgetown Law graduate, is a seasoned sports law pro who has significant experience in complex civil litigation with top rated sports practice groups. He also has experience working with professional teams, athletes, universities, and leagues. Outside of managing The White Bronco, Dan is now a partner at the Nashville based sports law firm Sievert Werly and contributes to several national media outlets. Dan has also been quoted as a sports law expert in media publications including USA Today, ESPN, Bleacher Report, Fox Business, among others. Additionally, he co-hosts his own sports law podcast, Conduct Detrimental, which can be found on The White Bronco and iTunes (Link: http://thewhitebronco.com/conduct-detrimental-podcast/).

On top of his work as a sports law professional and skilled writer, Werly also involves himself with the academic side of the law by teaching Arbitration at Charleston School of Law. The most recent of his accomplishments includes being named the Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s Sports Division.

I knew Mr. Werly would be a great resource for advice for those of us looking to have a career in the sports industry. After visiting his website and reading much of his work, I had to ask him to do an interview for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer (“TASL”) and he graciously agreed. Below is the interview:

 

TASL: Could you explain your journey as far as getting into the sports law world and how you went about working your way into this type of legal profession?

Werly:  Like many, my journey into sports law – particularly my current position – is somewhat roundabout and unique.  I always knew that I wanted to work in sports but the law side did not come into the equation until I took a few business legal classes while in undergrad at Miami University, which put the idea of law school into my head for the first time.

Fast forward a couple years to my 2L year Georgetown for law school where I was fortunate to receive an offer to be a summer associate at the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath in Chicago.  I ended up working at DBR that summer and post graduation.  I knew I wanted to work in sports, but the idea of locking up a large law firm position – even where there wasn’t much sports work available — was too hard to pass up at the time.  Even though I was not practicing sports at DBR, I was constantly writing and keeping up with the sports law community.  The desire to work in sports never subsided and I kept my eyes open for opportunities in the sports law world.

Fortunately, a couple of years later I received an opportunity to join the Chicago office of Foley & Lardner LLP, a law firm with an established and high profile sports practice.  While at Foley I practiced part time as a commercial litigator and part time in the sports law group.

When my wife was offered her dream job as a psychologist in the US Army, which caused us to move to Augusta, GA, I tried to do the most with the opportunity, and brief hiatus from practicing law, to launch a sports legal website and teach.  When we relocated to Nashville a few months ago, my friend and fellow sports lawyer Justin Sievert and I opened Sievert Werly LLC, a law firm dedicated to working with clients in the sports industry.

 

TASL: What advice would you give aspiring sports lawyers that are in law school now and looking to find a job in the sports law world? What should they be doing now and what steps would you recommend they take both immediately and in the future?

Werly: Everyone has a different path into sports law.  I am sure everyone reading this is well aware, but it is an extremely competitive field and not easy to break into — especially right out of law school.  That said, I believe that those who are really passionate about practicing at the intersection of sports and law almost always end up there (be patient!!).

I think there are two big aspects of getting a sports law job that students and young lawyers should focus on.  First, master your craft and always do great work.  This might mean taking a job outside of sports to get the experience needed for the next step.  Make sure that you are doing nothing short of your best, even if is not your dream job.  Think of it as training for that sports job.  Also, you never know who is watching.

Second, network network network.  Get to know sports lawyers in your area and go to the big sports law conferences (I would recommend the Sports Lawyers Association annual conference in May and the ABA Entertainment and Sports Annual meeting in October).  Also, research how to network well: have a plan at events/conferences, keep in touch with people who you have reached out to, and see if there are ways for you to add value – and demonstrate your proficiencies – for those in the industry that you connect with.

 

TASL: Given your extensive knowledge in the field, what do you think employers are looking for most in a candidate for an internship/externship/entry-level position with a sports group at a civil litigation firm, professional sports team, or sports agency?

Werly: I think the biggest things employers are looking for are a passion for the industry and a demonstrated competency for the work to be done.

Look at your resume and ask yourself: does this demonstrate that I am passionate about the legal issues impacting the organization I am applying to and am going to do everything in my power to master those issues?  If not, find ways to change that.

Regarding demonstrated competency, the bottom line is that organizations have a bottom line.  They want someone who can come in and make their jobs easier.  Make your boss’s job easier and he/she will love you for it.

 

TASL: You manage The White Bronco and follow virtually every case/story happening in sports law, write for numerous media publications, work at a law firm, and even teach a law class. Most recently you were named the Vice Chair of the ABA’s sports division. How do you manage to find time for all of this? And what is your favorite position you hold and why?

Werly: Honestly, I love what I do which makes it a lot easier.  When things pick up with one role, sometimes I have less time to dedicate to another so it is a balance.  I am not teaching right now which frees up a good chunk of time!

 

TASL: What motivated you to start The White Bronco? What do you see as the blog’s purpose within the sports law community?

Werly:  It is actually my second stab at a sports legal blog.  Sometime around 2012 I started a website called SportsLaw101, which was part of a larger sports network.  I had to eventually give that up after I did not have the necessary time to dedicate to it.

However, the idea for a sports legal website never really left my head and I found myself always brainstorming how I could make something better.  When I left Foley in late 2015 for my wife’s job, I had a lot more free time for web design and content for the site.

I would like to think that the White Bronco holds a unique place in the sports law world.  There are many other fantastic sports legal blogs, but we have a few features – such as PDFs of case documents/contracts and job boards – that are unique to the space.  I have always tried to have fun with it (hence the name) while still providing useful legal commentary.

 

TASL: What do you see as the most useful class or classes that aspiring sports attorneys can take while in law school to prepare for a career in the sports industry? Any other tips for preparing for that type of career?

Werly: I always recommend any practical classes such as contract drafting or trial advocacy.  Even if those classes are not dedicated to sports, the soft skills will help you more than another traditional case law based class.  I would also highly recommend trying to gain as many real world experiences via internships or clinics as possible.  I am less of a fan of spending your time working on a law journal but some employers do value that experience.

 

TASL: Last question, if you could give one piece of advice to those of us that aspire to find a career in sports law and have an impact in sports law like you have had, what would it be?

Werly: I mentioned a few earlier.  Here is one more: Keep up with theaspiringsportslawyer.com!

 

To read more about Daniel Werly and his take on sports law issues, follow him on Twitter (@WerlySportsLaw) or follow The White Bronco (@TheWhiteBronc). Also, be sure to check out his sports law website/blog, The White Bronco à Link: http://thewhitebronco.com.

I hope this interview provides good advice and insight into the sports law industry. All feedback is appreciated and please give it a share!

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; questions answered by Daniel Werly.

 

Event Review: University of Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference

One of the missions of this blog is to be a resource for those who aspire to find a career in the sports law industry. As part of that mission, it is important to be well-informed of networking events, events where you can gain more knowledge in the field that you aspire to be in, or competitive experiences that will help you learn more about your craft.

With that said, below is a great event review of the University of Oregon Law School’s Sports & Entertainment Conference written by Garrett Robinson (contributing writer to TASL) who is a 2L at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California. He had the opportunity to attend the conference a couple weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, and he had some great things to say about his experience. Check out his review of the event below:

 

“I would much rather hire someone who I know and like rather than someone who has the greatest GPA ever, who I don’t know”.

These are the words that one of my mentors told me as I started my first year of law school. The very essence of this quote is the idea that networking is pivotal in beginning a career in law. Therefore, the various conferences involving your area of interest are important to attend.

I just recently attended the first annual Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I had heard about this 2-day conference from a friend of mine whom I met at the University of Oregon Summer Sports Law Institute last summer. The Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference covered a plethora of topics including music & entertainment, fantasy sports & gambling, agency & licensing, compliance, international sports, general counsel work, and sports & event management. Let me delve into what I gained from attending this conference.

The first panel involved music & entertainment. Now I know what you are probably thinking, “I only care about sports. Why do I need/want to listen to these lawyers”. Sports have become an enormous industry where there is now a lot of crossover between it and entertainment. Athletes today want to be more than just a sports star. They also want to be rappers, actors and even take on various business ventures. Therefore, meeting and networking with individuals in these industries is just as important as meeting someone like Leigh Steinberg or any other prominent sports agent.

The next panel was made up of agents and licensing representatives. This was a very interesting panel because we got to see both sides of a typical negotiation; an endorsement company and an agent. One of my favorite individuals in the sports law industry, Paul Loving, spoke in this panel. The insight he provides is real and encouraging. He is very charismatic and very open to hearing new ideas, which leads me to one of the other panelist, Steven Jeffrey. Steven Jeffrey is a former, professional rock-climber. One of the cool things about attending a conference is you learn about other industries and some of the obstacles that they face. In his case, it is the misrecognition of the excitement of watching his sport and how it does not generate a lot of revenue (despite its high risk). However, he is doing a good job at using his expertise and knowledge of the sport in order to break new grounds.

The next day was the longest between the two and it started with a panel focusing on compliance in college sports. These panelists primarily focused on NCAA regulations and the importance of institutional control. It was interesting to hear what the schools do to ensure that they are not lacking institutional control and how the NCCA imposes penalties when a violation occurs due to a lack of control by the school.

The next panel was about international sports. Now to be honest I usually do not have much interest in this topic. However, the Sports Law Society at University of Oregon did an incredible job of compiling a group of speakers who were extremely interesting. These speakers focused on the differences between their “sports clubs” concept versus our “league concept” and how they have a federation that regulates all of the sports in their Latin countries.

They spoke about what it takes to start a firm and even a sports team. Mr. Dave Galas is in the process of bringing a Premier Development Soccer League team (Lane United FC) to Eugene, OR. He discussed some of the challenges and the obstacles that must be overcome. Becky Mendoza brought an inspiring story from an action sports perspective. She initially worked for a renowned agency before she decided to start her own agency where she primarily focuses on obtaining visas for foreign action sports athletes. She had a ton of positive energy. I personally enjoyed speaking with her after her panel and have developed a relationship and another contact as a result.

I think largely most of us hope to become general counsel for a sports company(such as a sports team). The next panel provided us with an insightful look at what it takes to do just that.

They explained that it takes a lot of hard work, experience and, in some cases, a little luck. They also explained the roles of general counsel and how you have to be aware of which “hat” you are wearing. For example, there are some situations where you have to understand business intricacies and how certain decisions may affect the company. Then you must also understand the legal aspects and weigh the risks (if there are any) of their decision. Maya Mendoza-Exstrom also mentioned the importance of understanding what role you are in at what time become attorney-client privilege may be at risk if you are unaware. I also found J. Carlos Kuri to be very interesting as well. He is Vice President and General Counsel of Red Bull. I found him to be interesting because Red Bull is a very dynamic company. Although they are an energy drink company, they invest a lot in marketing and even in sporting events that they themselves put on. Because of how dynamic this company is, J. Carlos Kuri has to wear a lot of “hats” and must have a broad understanding of a variety of areas.

img_4922

The Univeristy of Oregon and its Sports Law Society did a fantastic job at putting this conference on. They have the most beautiful facilities as well as the most inviting students. Anytime I have an opportunity to go to the Univeristy of Oregon I know not to expect anything but great facilities and even more amazing people. The Sports law Society members there are some of the nicest and most well-organized people to put on a great conference such as this. I especially liked the fact that in between panels they scheduled a break so that attendees may speak and network with the panleists. I also want to thank these panelists for making the trip to Eugene, OR and taking the time out of their busy lives to show us what it takes to get to where they are today. Apart from personal gratification, I am sure a huge reason for why they participated was because of their knowingness of how beauitful and accomodating the Univeristy of Oregon is as well as its students. Thank you again and I look forward to attending once again next year to meet some more incredible people.

Below is a list of the Professionals/Speakers that were present:

Music & Entertainment

  • Guy Blake: Partner to Davis Shapiro Lewit Grabel Leven Granderson & Blake, LLP for Entertainment
  • Ian Humphrey: In-House Counsel for Insomniac Events
  • Kevin Mills Partner to Kaye & Mills

Agency & Licensing

  • Paul Loving: Former General Counsel to Nike and Current Managing Shareholder of Consul Group
  • Kyell Thomas: Current Agent of Octagon Entertainment
  • Adam Kelly: Current Associate General Counsel of Columbia Sportswear
  • Steven Jeffrey: Route-Setting Director of Momentum Climbing

Compliance

  • Oliver Luck: Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the NCAA
  • Gabe Feldman: Director of the Tulane Sports Law Program and Associate Provost for NCCA Compliance
  • Jody Sykes: Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Compliance Officer for University of Oregon Athletics
  • AJ Schaufler: Former Compliance Officer at Fresno State University

International Sports

  • Marcos Motta: Partner at Bichara e Motta Advogados
  • Luiz Felipe Guimaraes Santoro: Partner at Santoro Advogados
  • Sergio Ventura Engelburg: Legal Counsel for Sport Club Corinthians Paulista

Sports & Event Management

  • Dave Galas: Founder of Lane United FC
  • Felisa Israel: Founder and Owner of 10 Fold Entertainment
  • Becky Mendoza: Founder of Action Sports Law Group

General Counsel

  • Maya Mendoza-Exstrom: General Counsel for Seattle Sounders FC
  • Douglas Park: General Counsel for Univeristy of Oregon
  • Carlos Kuri: General Counsel for Red Bull
  • Ibrahima Soare: General Counsel for Federation Francaise de Tennis

 

—Garrett Robinson, contributing writer, The Aspiring Sports Lawyer Blog

 

If you have any questions concerning the University of Oregon’s Sports & Entertainment Conference or you would like your law school’s event to be reviewed and featured on TASL, please let us know and we will be glad to help out as best as we can. Please give this a share… Our hope is that these events will flourish once more people become aware of their existence and that aspiring sports lawyers will know of learning opportunities available to them throughout the country.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!