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.

 

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 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.