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.

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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!

Join Your Law School’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society or Found It Yourself

One of the coolest and more beneficial things I have stumbled upon since being in law school is the idea of a Sports Law/Sports and Entertainment Law Society.

For anyone that is in the same boat as me—i.e. looking to have a career in sports as an attorney—the Sports and Entertainment Law Society at your respective law school (or undergrad if applicable) is a good start as far as putting yourself out there and trying to discover more about the field.

Through this organization, networking opportunities that would not otherwise be available become available. You’re able to meet experts in the field that can provide advice and interesting stories on their experiences in their work as an attorney in the sports industry. On top of that, you are getting the opportunity to work with likeminded people that are in the same position as you and who also love sports.

Many law schools have these types of organizations so it is as simple as going to an introductory meeting and joining through signing up and possibly paying dues. Once you sign up, continue building up the program and carrying on what is hopefully an already successful and worthwhile organization.

For those of you who do not have a Sports Law/Sports & Entertainment Law Society, this presents an even BIGGER opportunity. If it’s not there, nothing should stop you from forming it yourself—if you are passionate about it. This presents—not only a great resume booster—a great opportunity to build something special and fun for not only yourself, but others in the law school who may not have thought of the idea of a sports law society. It also provides a path for those that come along after you have left that will undoubtedly be interested in the sports law industry. Whatever the case, joining will allow for opportunities that lead to careers, contacts, or more.

As for my experience, I had the chance to be a co-founder of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society at the University of Memphis Law School.

A few months ago, one of my friends at law school approached me and a few others with the idea of founding/re-starting the Sports & Entertainment Law Society at our law school because he knew that he and I have similar aspirations. I immediately was interested and could already see the benefits of starting something as great as a society that combines the law with sports—especially with friends in my law school class that shared the same interests.

Before I knew it, we had been granted allowance to re-start the society and we drafted our constitution for approval (it was approved). After that, we advertised the society and tried to get as many people to join as possible. Much to our astonishment, there was a great amount of interest among the law school student body, which was a pleasant surprise because we knew we now had an opportunity to build something worthwhile.

So far, we have had a very successful beginning to the Sports & Entertainment Law Society. Not only have we attracted many other law students to want to join, but we have put together programs with speakers who have taken their law degree and have had an accomplished career in the sports world.

Since we are in Memphis, we have tried to utilize all local connections in an effort to build a strong home base and connections within the city. Guests have included Zach Kleiman (General Counsel for the Memphis Grizzlies), Lionel Hollins (former head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies), and Greg Gaston (former founder of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society at Memphis Law/Manager of Business Development for the Memphis Tigers Sports Properties with Learfield Sports). All have provided valuable insight into the sports law world and into different professions post-law school. We already have several more guest speakers scheduled and know that the society will only grow bigger and better in the years to come.

This was not accomplished without some help, however. We also had the opportunity to reach out to friends at different law schools that had already established Sports Law Societies and they provided valuable insight into starting it up (many of the friends we asked came from our connections at the Oregon Law School Summer Sports Law Institute).

With that said, I highly encourage all readers—if interested—to join your law school’s Sports Law Society or start your own. It is well worth the time and can only help you grow in your potential. If you are looking to start your own, I also welcome any questions on how we went about starting ours up at Memphis Law. My contact information is in the “Contact” tab and I am glad to answer any and all questions.

As always, thank you for reading and God Bless!

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar

—Dale Hutcherson

 

Motivation Monday: Never Peak

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is having an even better start to a new year (for law students, I hope you survived finals). With the new year in the works, I’d like to begin by making some improvements and more frequent posts on TASL Blog. I have had many ideas over the past month since finals have ended and really want to be able to make some big and positive changes in many facets of life.

With that said, one of the new ideas I have for the blog is “Motivation Monday” where I would like to write an article that encourages, inspires, and provides some motivation for those pursuing their professional dreams—particularly those that want to pursue something in sports law. And what better forum to do this? A blog about sports and law should definitely have some sort of motivational aspect given that we as a society associate sports with motivation, determination, and a means to learn something greater than a game and apply the lessons in our daily lives.

In today’s Motivation Monday post (hopefully the first of many), I want to touch on what I believe is a very important lesson to remember in our daily lives and in our constant pursuit of a dream—the concept of never peaking. And what does that mean to “never peak?” Well, the best way to explain it came to me this past December as I was watching my youngest brother and my high school alma mater play for a state championship—and win—in football.

As I was sitting in the stands and watching a great team full of really solid athletes play for a state championship I thought, “Wow, what an experience and chance of a lifetime. They’ll never get to experience something like this again. It doesn’t get much better than that.” But then I thought back to my playing days… I had a great experience.  I had a pretty good career. Heck, I was even named first team all-state and went on to play four years of college ball. But looking back—though they were great experiences and nothing is wrong with appreciating it—none of it really matters anymore. Outside of the relationships built and the friendships made, none of the records matter. None of the accolades amounted to anything much. Honestly, I think I was the first quarterback (or one of the firsts) from my high school to ever be named to the all-state team and literally no one has mentioned it to me since I received the honor. This is not to say I want them to or that I am asking for praise—I’m not. I simply say this to prove the point that all of that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of life. The lessons that are taken away from the games are what matter.

The same can be said for anything else as well. Valedictorian of your class? Great. Chess Champion? Awesome. State championship in football? Love it. But, all those things really should do is help to set a higher expectation for something greater later. This is not to say that those types of accomplishments are completely meaningless and that you shouldn’t be proud of your accomplishments—you should. Nothing is wrong with taking pride in accomplishing something that you have worked so hard for; however, use it as a stepping stone to continuously succeed and move on to bigger and better things—plus it’s also a good thing to leave a legacy behind that will be continued by others (different article for a different time).

So, with that said, I continued thinking about what I wanted my little brother and his friends to get out of their experience—plus I started thinking about my life and how I want to approach my dreams and the process of attaining my goals.

In my research of professionals that are in the type roles that I aspire to be in one day, I have come across some great people who offer great advice for not only career stuff, but for life as well. For those of you not familiar with a sports law pro by the name of Andrew Brandt (ESPN Legal Analyst; interviewed him earlier), he has a hashtag in his twitter bio that says, “#NeverPeak.”

To me, never peaking is like a daily life motto each of us should live by in this fast-paced world where succeeding requires constant work. You almost have to approach dream chasing and goal setting with a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. This allows you to not dwell on past accomplishments, but to move forward in life so that you can continuously succeed at new things and continue to accomplish new goals. Sure, celebrate the victories; but continue to approach the next day as if there is a whole new agenda—I truly believe this is what many successful people do in their careers.

For my little brother and his teammates; for myself and others pursuing a career: let today be a new day with new goals to get you to a better end goal. Do not dwell on past accomplishments—appreciate them and take lessons away from them as you move forward. Never Peak and move on to the next phase so that you will be a constant success in whatever it is you want to do.

To finish this Motivation Monday up, I encourage myself and others that are willing to read into these posts to Never Peak. Constantly strive for something greater than what you’ve already accomplished. It is a good thing to have a constant hunger to be more than you were the day before and to constantly improve. It will allow you to have a higher ceiling in all that you do and will provide a constant ambition so that you may accomplish your goals, dreams, and aspirations.

I hope that this post has provided some sort of motivation—please give feedback—as I think this Motivation Monday thing will be a good theme throughout the year. There will be more to come including these types of posts, interviews from sports law professionals, and other experiences I am facing in my pursuit of a career as the year comes along.

Again, all feedback is appreciated and I hope you feel like sharing this post as many could use words of encouragement and motivation on any given day—especially Mondays.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

#NeverPeak” – Andrew Brandt

—Dale Hutcherson

Interview with Family Man/Sports Executive/Keynote Speaker/Humanitarian David Meltzer

As I go further into my journey to find a place in the sports law world, I have had the opportunity to network and research many great sports law professionals. This has led to finding interesting and role model-type people to model my journey after. One of those people that is extremely influential on aspiring attorneys and business professionals is David Meltzer.

David Meltzer is as versatile a person as you will find in the sports industry. He is the CEO of Sports 1 Marketing, a Forbes “Top 10 Keynote Speaker,” a national best-selling author, humanitarian, life coach, and most importantly, a family man.

Meltzer, like several successful people in the sports law world, received his Juris Doctorate Degree from Tulane University Law School. He also has over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive in the legal, technology, sports, and entertainment fields.

As far as Sports 1 Marketing goes, he is the co-founder along with Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. With Sports 1 Marketing, Meltzer has grown his clients’ marketing and endorsement potential and represented clients in many different sports. Some of his projects with Sports 1 Marketing have included the NFL Player’s Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Super Bowl, and The Master’s, just to name a few.

David began his career in sports with Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment (Jerry Maguire is based off of Steinberg) where he helped in negotiating over $2 billion in sports and entertainment contracts. Meltzer is also a media personality with many national publications including Forbes and ESPN. As far as his humanitarian work, David was recognized for his efforts and honored at Variety’s Unite4:Humanity event as the Sports Humanitarian of the year.

Outside of the sports industry, he is known as a successful entrepreneur, best-selling author (books include: Connected to Goodness, and Compassionate Capitalism: A Journey to the Soul of Business), and life coach. On top of all of that, David is a family man with his wife and four children.

A friend I met at Oregon’s Sports Law Institute told me all about David, and I knew I had to secure an interview with him for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer Blog. I hope you enjoy and can take away valuable, meaningful, and motivational advice from one of the leading executives in the industry:

 

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

Meltzer: While I was in undergrad at Occidental College, I visited my brother in med-school at UCLA. I quickly realized I did not want to be a doctor so I went to Law School instead. I got my law degree from Tulane University and then got a job in the technology industry. Westlaw, the newest division (at the time) of West Publishing, the world’s largest legal publisher, had an opportunity for me to sell legal resources on the Internet. I was with Westlaw for seven years where I became the Sales Director before leaving for Everypath, eventually meeting the CEO of Samsung. I was hired as the CEO of Samsung’s PC-E Phone Cyberbank Division, which would eventually become the world’s first smartphone. I chose to semi-retire and leave the company to become an entrepreneur at only 35 years old. I was rich and became a venture capitalist, creating my own businesses, buying tons of real estate, and invested in new businesses. I eventually went bankrupt and was forced to start over. I was connected with Leigh Steinberg to complete a simple one-time contract but ended up getting hired as the COO of his famous sports agency. I had always secretly dreamed of being a sports agent so this was my chance to at least get close to living that dream. My first day, I stepped into my new office that was between Leigh and Hall of Fame Quarterback, Warren Moon. Warren and I ran Leigh’s business for him as he was in and out of rehab throughout my time there. I was eventually promoted to CEO and ran the whole operation. Warren and I knew we were enabling Leigh and needed to get out which is when we left and started Sports 1 Marketing in 2010. We were profitable within the first month of business and have only continued to grow until today.

TASL: You are clearly well-rounded in many different areas including the business, legal, marketing, and public speaking/writing realms. How has getting your J.D. helped you in accomplishing all that you have done?

Meltzer: Getting my J.D. forced me to hone my critical thinking skills, which are critical to success in any arena. Being able to understand and effectively communicate different frames or viewpoints can help you in any industry. I also think my understanding of contracts has been very beneficial to the businesses that I operate.

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?

Meltzer: I like to have people take a good look at their friends and associates, because your friends are your future. If you want to be a sports lawyer, start associating with individuals who are (or have been) sports lawyers. Find out where they hang out or what charities they work with, and then seek them out. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they will mentor you and share the knowledge that they have gained throughout their careers. They have already paid a “dummy tax” and you can avoid it yourself by being more interested than interesting.

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 professional sports team or sports agency?

Meltzer: It is a pretty hackneyed piece of advice to tell people “make sure you stand out from the crowd”, but I think it is really applicable to the sports industry. Especially true in entry-level positions in sports organizations, you are going to need to be recognized as someone who brings unique assets to the team if you want to advance. At Sports 1 Marketing, we are looking for employees who stand out in four specific areas. Those are gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication. If you can use the principles that set you apart to get your foot in the door and stay there, you are going to be ahead of the game.

TASL: It is clear that you are a professional that wears many hats—especially considering you are a keynote speaker, life coach, CEO, humanitarian—what is your favorite position that you hold and why?

Meltzer: I’m going to cheat and say two related positions: teacher and student. I really relish having a bunch of young people in the office with whom I can share the situational knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career. I say a prayer every day asking for ten people to be put in front of me to help and I think teaching is a big part of that. The flip side of the coin, of course, is being a student. I advise everyone to have at least three mentors to learn from and I’ve got some great ones, including Hall of Famers, best-selling authors, and business tycoons. I try as much as I possibly can from people, especially if they have some mastered some skill that I need help with.

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 make an impact in sports law like you have, what would it be?

Meltzer: Get inspired. If you really want to do something, being inspired to accomplish it and remaining connected to that inspiration can and will make a difference.

 

To read more about David Meltzer and his many positions and accomplishments, check out his bio here: http://www.meltzermission.com/david-meltzer-bio/. Also, give him a follow on twitter for motivation, advice, and his take on sports and the sports industry @davidmeltzer.

Sports 1 Marketing website: https://sports1marketing.com.

Also, here is a good video on YouTube with David Meltzer that will provide some motivation and insight into his perspective and philosophy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YgyBfBfqHo.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Get inspired. If you really want to do something, being inspired to accomplish it and remaining connected to that inspiration can and will make a difference.” – David Meltzer

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; Interview coordinated by Bradley Hartman; Questions answered by David Meltzer.

Interview with ESPN Legal Analyst/Law Professor/Sports Attorney Andrew Brandt

During my time in Oregon at the Law School Summer Sports Institute, I had the opportunity to listen to a panel which included ESPN Business and Legal Analyst, Andrew Brandt. He told a little bit about his background and journey in sports law and provided commentary on sports law topics including gaming in sports (i.e. fantasy sports) and the relationship between teams and agents in the NFL.

Andrew Brandt is the legal and business analyst for ESPN and is a law professor at Villanova Law School where he is the director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law. With ESPN Brandt analyzes business, legal, and policy sports issues on popular shows such as “Sportscenter”, “NFL Live”, and “Outside the Lines”. He is also a featured columnist for The MMQB (Sports Illustrated), ESPN.com, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more.

Before becoming a legal analyst for ESPN, Brandt spent nine years with the Green Bay Packers as their Vice President where he negotiated player contracts and managed the team’s salary cap. Early on, Brandt worked for ProServ, Inc. and Woolf Associates representing athletes such as Michael Jordan, Matt Hasselbeck, Adam Vinatieri, and Ricky Williams to name a few. He also served as the youngest general manager in sports at the time (1991) for the NFL World League’s Barcelona Dragons.

After hearing him speak on the panel, I knew I had to secure an interview with him for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer (“TASL”) blog and he graciously agreed. Below is the interview:

TASL: Will you give a little background as to your path and the way in which you found a career in sports as an attorney and how you ended up becoming a legal/business analyst for ESPN?

Brandt: I went to Stanford and then back to Washington DC where I am from and Georgetown Law School.  While in law school I was able to intern for ProServ, a sports management firm.  I started there in tennis but soon moved to Team Sports representation, working with NBA superagent David Falk.  There I was able to develop a football practice, which led to me switching from the labor (players) side to the management (teams, owners) side twice: first to become the general manager of the Barcelona Dragons of the NFL’s World League, and later, after another time as an agent, to the GB Packers as vice president and general counsel.  Since leaving the Packers, I wanted to do something different with my career and have tried to fill a void as an experienced and informed media analyst on legal and business issues in sports, as well as bringing a practical model on sports study to academia.

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?

Brandt: Find a passion in the sports industry, something you would do with no regard for salary or time commitment.  Be able to communicate well and write something every day.  When talking to a future employer, make sure the passion comes out and always provide a writing sample of something you are proud of.

TASL: You have worked in the NFL on both sides of contract negotiations and bring a unique perspective to those that are wanting to get into sports law either on the agent side or the side of the team. What is the most significant difference between the two jobs? Also, how did you manage to balance the interests of the team and the player and come to an agreement that pleased both sides?

Brandt: An agent is like a fantasy football owner: rooting for certain players to do well, regardless of team affiliation.  A team executive has to worry about precedent with every deal, knowing all players (and agents) are watching.  Being a former agent was invaluable experience to working for a team, as I knew how the other side thought.  The key to negotiations is to put yourself in the other side’s shoes.

TASL: Now for some sports law questions—Could you comment on the relationship between players and the teams they play for and also the relationship between the NFLPA and the league office/commissioner?

Brandt: Obviously this relationship has been marked by a lack of trust, since the time even before the 2011 CBA.  Leadership does not appear to trust or even like each other, and NFLPA leadership was and is intent on not being “chummy” as was the previous leader with NFL Commissioner Tagliabue.  This instills some lack of trust between players and teams, although that is more of an individual thing, often influenced by that player’s contract negotiation and business dealings with the team.

TASL: Do you see the NFL moving away from or reforming their Collective Bargaining Agreement where the commissioner is the “judge, jury, and executioner” of all disciplinary functions?

Brandt: The NFL just won two Circuit Court decisions affirming that power (Brady, Peterson) so has the leverage in this area.  If the NFLPA chooses to make it an issue in the next round of bargaining, they will obviously have to give up something, and I am not sure what there is to give.  This area gets a lot of attention and a lot of legal resources but not really a high priority for either side.

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?

Brandt: Find a way to separate yourself from the pack, whether through developing a special skill, coming up with a new way of looking at things, being able to communicate or write better than others, or something else.  Realizing so many people want to get into sports, see if there is a path for you that is not the one everyone else is looking at.  Keep trying to meet people with invading their time.  And, of course, be yourself and let your light shine.

To read more about Andrew Brandt and his take on issues in the sports world and his legal analysis, follow him on twitter @AndrewBrandt.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Realizing so many people want to get into sports, see if there is a path for you that is not the one everyone else is looking at.” – Andrew Brandt

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; questions answered by Andrew Brandt.

Interview with Sports Illustrated Writer/Law Professor/Sports Attorney Michael McCann

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on Michael McCann’s sports law class concerning Sports Scandals at the University of Oregon School of Law Summer Sports Institute.

Michael McCann is a legal analyst and writer for Sports Illustrated and he is a law professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law where he founded their Sports and Entertainment Law Institute. He received his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law and his LLM from Harvard Law School. As far as his work as a sports attorney, McCann served as counsel for Maurice Clarett in the 2004 case, Clarett v. National Football League, which dealt with the NFL’s age eligibility rule. With SI, he has analyzed and written about sports law topics concerning Peyton Manning’s HGH allegations, arbitration issues in the NFL, NHL, and other sports leagues, “Deflategate” in New England, and many other interesting/stimulating topics in sports. To see some of his work with Sports Illustrated, check out this link: http://www.si.com/author/michael-mccann

After sitting in his class, I knew I had to secure an interview with him for The Aspiring Sports Lawyer (“TASL”) blog 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?

McCann:  When I was a 3L at UVA Law in 2002, I published a note in the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal on the legality of age restrictions and high school players entering the NBA. A couple of years after I graduated from law school, a college football player named Maurice Clarett sued the NFL over its age eligibility rule. I got in touch with Clarett’s attorney, Alan Milstein, and let him know what I wrote. I then joined Clarett’s legal team. It was a great experience, even though we did not win the case. I tell my students my entrance into sports law was through writing on a timely topic.

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?

McCann: It depends on what area of sports law you want to go into, but if you want to pursue sports litigation, my advice is to become a great attorney first. Sports law is like any other area of law: the best attorneys in the field are really outstanding attorneys. They are highly skilled, knowledgeable and hard working.

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.)?

McCann: I think sports law will continue to grow. Sports is a growth industry and thus more and different types of legal disputes will arise. Intellectual property, antitrust and labor law are all key areas of sports law.

TASL: Could you comment on arbitration within sports leagues like the NHL and the issues that come along with third party arbitrators versus arbitrators chosen by the league administration?

McCann: I think we’ve seen in sports and in other industries that neutral arbitration is a better format for dispute resolution than the same person being the fact-finder, punisher and arbitrator. Neutral arbitration is more credible and thus less likely to lead to doubts about completeness, accuracy and objectivity.

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?

McCann: Many law students hope they will be hired into a sports law job right out of law school. The reality is that legal jobs in pro sports almost always go to attorneys who have several years of experience and who have already developed reputations for excellence in the practice of law. If you want to become an attorney for a pro team or litigate on behalf of leagues or players’ associations, my advice is to gain skills while in law school related to the practice of law (especially in areas related to sports, including most obviously sports law but also IP, antitrust, labor and business transactions) and then hone those skills as a practicing attorney. They could be honed at a law firm, or as a prosecutor or a public defender, or at a company. But become a great lawyer and then breaking into sports becomes a much more accessible path.

 

To read more about Michael McCann and to read his take on sports scandals and the legal side of current issues in sports, follow him on twitter @McCannSportsLaw.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Become a great lawyer and then breaking into sports becomes a much more accessible path.” – Michael McCann

– Interview and Information compiled by Dale Hutcherson; questions answered by Michael McCann.