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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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!