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.

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

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!

Motivation Monday: Take Initiative

A common theme many people hear when seeking career advice in a field that they aspire to be in is, “oh, I just kind of… fell into it,” –which is true to an extent… but not completely.

One of the most important aspects of our day-to-day lives that we all too often forget is that we have a lot of control over what direction we are trying to head or what type of life we are trying to lead. We get caught up in daily tasks or a routine that makes us go through the motions and society can put us on a fast track to forgetting what it is we really want to do with our lives—whether it be career, relationships, or life in general.

This is why it is important to take initiative in your life—and for purposes of this blog—in your career or job search.

Many people, when getting caught up in going through the motions, forget that opportunity isn’t going to just fall in your lap without some form of due diligence. If you find something you love and know that you want to do, don’t sit around and wait on it to happen because—unfortunately—it’s not going to happen.

While, yes, opportunity does come in different forms and can seemingly come from nowhere, those opportunities cannot be capitalized on without some self-preparation. You must do your part in making an opportunity come to fruition. After all, success only comes available when hard work meets opportunity.

For example, in my search for a career and in my journey in trying to gain knowledge in sports law and within the sports industry, I could not have gained the limited amount of knowledge I have now without making sure I networked with the right people, asked the right questions, and sought out advice (I am learning something new every day and know I will continue to expand my knowledge—mainly because I am taking initiative and pursuing it). None of which would I have if I had decided to sit around by myself without taking any initiative in trying to seek out advice or meet new people with similar interests or find opportunities within the sports law world.

Whether assisting my classmates in starting our own Sports & Entertainment Law Society in Memphis, traveling to Oregon for sports law classes, or finding competitions like the one available at Tulane— I have taken initiative and sought out opportunities. I didn’t wait around for someone to tell me what to do. I just… did it. And the beautiful thing about that is this: you can do it too. I’m no genius… I just realized that the only person holding me back (in most cases) is me—which should give you even more confidence in pursuing your dreams on your own too. All it takes is you deciding that “hey, I think I’m going to go network today (or insert any other form of taking initiative).”

After my torts professor told us one day in class during my 1L year that we should seek out opportunity in a career area that we love, I haven’t looked back—and I plan on continuing to move forward with my pursuit of a career in what I love—sports. I know this only comes with me taking initiative, figuring things out as best I can on my own, and seeking out advice from those that are experts in the field and that are willing to mentor aspiring sports law professionals.

The last thing I will leave you with on this Motivation Monday is this: Take initiative and take control over your own life to the extent you can. Make good decisions, do your part, and passionately pursue whatever it is that makes you happy—after all, no one else is going to do it—only you can. The last thing you want to be asking yourself five, ten, or fifty years down the road is “what if?” because by then, it’s too late. Just do it—you won’t regret it. Make the leap and Take initiative.

 

I hope that this post has provided some sort of a motivation. 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. As always, if you ever have any questions or want to know more about me, the blog, or want to discuss sports law, don’t hesitate to message me.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“Your actions today hold the key to your future. If you want to predict your future, look at the things that you are focusing on today.”

—Dale Hutcherson

Motivation Monday: MLK Day—The Essence of Leadership

Happy Monday again to everybody and more importantly, Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to everyone. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th Century and one of the greatest in American history. He set a great example for others to follow, led in a way that is second to none, and literally lived and died for his true passion in life. His leadership abilities were second to none and he left the impact and legacy of a lifetime—and one that I hope and pray holds up as time progresses.

On this Motivation Monday, I would like to write a special piece on the several lessons that MLK taught and lived. Not to mention—since this is a sports law blog—the movement of the National Basketball Association in honoring MLK through jerseys, starting line-ups, and so-forth, which is a great and cool idea—especially in Memphis with the Grizzlies.

Anyways, back to the Motivation Monday Post. Of all the lessons I like to think I learned from studying MLK, there is one in particular that stuck out to me. He led and lived his life with the true essence of leadership—servanthood. In order to truly be a good leader and positive influence on those around you, you must learn to serve your fellow man or woman. This is the true essence and heart of leadership. Being a servant brings you respect and breeds others to want to do the same. This type of leadership that was demonstrated by Dr. Martin Luther King is special—mainly because not everyone is willing to do it. A leader needs a servant’s heart, and MLK definitely served the people around him with a full heart.

Not only did MLK have a servant’s heart, but he served others out of love for his fellow man. His leadership wasn’t motivated by self-gain or self-promotion; rather, his influence as a leader was dependent upon his genuine depth of concern for others.

With that said, how is it relevant to a sports law/career blog? Well, I truly believe that if you want to be a success and have the ability to influence people in a way that will motivate change and allow for prosperity, you need to have leadership abilities and values much like those of Dr. King. He was a leader, not a boss. He served and fought for his cause with a passion that was unmatched and did so with a positive attitude right alongside the “common man.” He was not simply telling others to do things for him; he went out and did the work himself. He did what he loved to do—which was to strive to unite those around him in a time of great division and bring about equality.

This lesson can be used in your pursuit of a career and in your life. It is not simply for self-gain; rather, it is to have great character which reflects your personal values. Character goes a long way when it comes to your pursuit of a career. Your character is what allows you to make it through the tough times and to continue to fight forward until you have reached your goals and aspirations. It is also your character that will show through to employers and those that you encounter as you go along. If you have a servant’s heart and genuine concern for others, it will shine like a bright light and have a much more positive effect on your aspirations and on those around you.

With all of that said, be willing to serve and to have a genuine concern for others. This is a contagious characteristic to have and it reflects the best of your values.

Finally, to finish this post, there are some things I cannot say well enough on my own and it is simply better to see the actual words of MLK in order to be motivated. So below, I have listed some of my favorite MLK quotes. I hope that they inspire and motivate. Happy Motivation Monday and Happy MLK Day!

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

And one more—just because it is so iconic and takes place in the city where I am living—Memphis, Tennessee—the “Mountaintop Speech.” This is a true reflection of MLK’s character and is almost eerie, but it shows the passion, drive, and determination with which he lived his life. It also shows how far he was willing to go and how much he was willing to sacrifice to accomplish his dreams. Video is below:

 

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

–Dale Hutcherson

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