Sport Law Internships

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Wart
Posts: 106
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:34 am

Sport Law Internships

Postby Wart » Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:25 am

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Last edited by Wart on Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Danteshek
Posts: 2172
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:40 pm

Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby Danteshek » Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:30 am

Wart wrote:Interested in getting a job in sports law and have been looking into summer internships with some of the big agencies. It looks like a lot of the agencies don't require you to be a law student, which seems to imply that an internship there might not involve legal work etc. Anyone out there have experience with this? Also, any insight in general about sports law internships is appreciated.


I know a guy who graduated from USC law a few years ago and took a job as a camera man for the Dodgers. He videotaped batting practice. Now he is a scout for the Texas Rangers.

kaiser
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Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:34 pm

Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby kaiser » Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:35 am

First thing to know (and this was told to me by someone who is now legal counsel for a sports team): There is no such thing as sports law. There are lawyers who happen to works within sports. And those lawyers often tend to specialize in a few specific areas. But the practice of "sports law" as a whole is really just a mix of a number of traditional areas. A common pathway is through labor law. Both David Stern and Gary Bettman practiced labor & employment law at Proskauer Rose (a firm widely known for its emphasis on sports law), before transitioning into the sports leagues that were both clients of the firm. Sports agents are obviously highly skilled at negotiations between employer and employee, and this is a skill that can be developed in a wide range of contexts. Aside from labor & employment, you have contract law, IP issues, etc. that underlie what a "sports lawyer" might handle.

Thus, think of sports law as a long-term goal, rather than something you would go straight into out of law school. A sports league, team, or sports agent firm is akin to a company or boutique firm in that most want people who are experienced in the core areas prior to beginning with the company/boutique firm. Are there rare exceptions? Sure. But since sports law isn't something you can just learn and go into, I would put my focus on learning the key core areas that a future sports lawyer would inevitably handle.

Anonymous User
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Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:33 pm

Covington DC might be worth investigating. I interviewed with a guy there who did a lot of sports-related transactional work, and from what I heard he's one of several people at Covington working in that field.

sebastian0622
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Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby sebastian0622 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:10 am

There isn't much "sports law" out there, but you can intern for universities. I know a guy who did that. He basically sat in on recruiting visits and stuff to make sure there weren't things going on that would be compliance issues. To be honest, it sounded really boring and it involved stuff like working weekends, driving coaches around, keeping track of how many phone calls were made, etc. I guess if you get off on hanging out with 17 year-old boys just because they're good at sports, then you might like it, but that seems kind of creepy to me.

Most "sports law" jobs seem like that to me--that is, really boring. You're doing the same thing as other jobs (labor law, anti-trust, contracts, regulatory, etc.) but since competition is higher in the field (because people assume sports=fun!), the jobs suck even more and the pay is even worse. As far as I can tell, they're about like any other job except your employer is a sports team or university instead of, say, a large bank. So you're reading the rules for recruiting and keeping track of menial shit instead of reading the rules for banking and keeping track of other menial shit, etc.

The only "real" sports jobs I can think of--the exceptions to the above stuff--would be agents (who don't even need J.D.'s) or working for the NCAA or something. There are like 6 people who work for the NCAA itself (not a university). It's almost impossible to crack into either field.

Anonymous User
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Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:45 pm

I have posted this before, but it's been a while since we've had one of these threads. I have some experience both within the industry and in searching for sports jobs, so hopefully this will help.

First, to answer your question. Getting a short-term (summer) internship with a good agency is almost impossible. Many of them don't even do short-term internships. This is true for a number of reasons. For one, much of the stuff that agencies do is in the gray area of the rules. This necessitates an organizational structure that needs continuity. They don't really like hiring people that have nothing to lose for short periods of time. I had a friend who worked for a big agency based out of NYC and they required a six-month time commitment at minimum. He was just a bottom of the barrel guy, too.

The different types of "sports law"-related jobs

Agents

There are lots of different angles that some might consider sports law jobs. Agent jobs are the most high-profile (arguably). You don't have to have a JD to be an agent, but it helps. The NFL requires certain things out of agents and one of the ways to fill the requirement is by having an advanced degree.

How do you get these jobs? With the big agencies, the most common route is to take a job as a mail room bitch. You'll make pennies and you'll be working with people who have less education than you. Then it's about hustling. If you have the skill set to be profitable, you'll have a chance. But this is still a very difficult way to work through the industry. A lot of people in this role get thrown into the role of "runner" where they are in charge of "recruiting" athletes for the agency. A lot of the dirty work is on you.

With the smaller agencies, it's about getting lucky and meeting the right person. I have a friend who works as the primary "recruiter" for a decent sized agency. He gets to wine and dine athletes and try to make them like the agency. A lot of what he does is sketchy, and he's certainly not a "lawyer type." He's a hustler, which is really what you have to be in this industry. His route is not one you're likely to hit on. He luckily met and made a connection with a guy who owned an agency. He then moved on to a bigger agency in LA.

Firm Jobs

It's decently well established that you can work at a big firm that handles much of this work. Proskauer is a good example. Alston Bird Atlanta handles a good bit of this stuff, too. Skadden does a lot of it. You can research the firms. These firms are hard to get and once you get them, it's hard to get on the sports stuff. You have to be good, competent, and you have to make a relationship with the partners who handle that stuff. It's not as easy as just getting hired by Proskauer.

But once you are there, the work can be pretty interesting. Lots of these guys work as outside counsel for teams on a host of issues. They work on mass tort, stadium liability, licensing, sponsorships. They do some labor side work. They can even be called in for arbitration preparation in some cases. If a new stadium is in the works, then outside law firms play a major role. As some people have stated, this is just regular law with sports clients. Someone above indicated that this was still "boring," but I'd disagree. Working with sports clients, for someone who has the sports bone, is rewarding.

Firm Jobs ----> Team side

I think this is the route that a lot of people take or want to take. They work firm jobs where they get experience on a host of different issues related to sports. They work closely with the GC of several sports teams (or just one). If they're good, they can line themselves up to take a team job when one comes open. The problem here is timing. These jobs don't just open up generally. At the big league level, they pay well and they are often dream "destination" jobs for attorneys. You don't see people leaving a GC spot or even an associate counsel spot for anything other than retirement (or a job with another team).

Connections ----> Team side

This is the big elephant that is in the room in any sports discussion. The sports world is incestuous. It is built on relationships. By relationships, I don't just mean knowing a guy. I mean, building a relationship with a person who has the power to help you. People within the sports world need qualifications, but beyond that it often comes down to who you know.

How can you build these relationships? There are different ways. For me, it was getting lucky and working in a position where I coached the immediate relative of a pro sports owner. From there, I worked my way into an internship in the lower rungs of the organization. I worked hard, made some ins, and now I'm a recognizable name and face. In addition to just being someone they know and would like to help, I'm someone who proved myself through a summer of low-paid work. How this will work out for me, I'm not sure. But I have my foot in the door.

It's worth noting that people who are in position to help you will see right through any bullshit that you try to pull. If you're making "connections," you need to be doing it genuinely. It worked out for me because I gave, a lot, before I ever asked for anything. I built a relationship of trust and then they were happy to help me. There is a fine line here and you have to walk it smartly.

Personnel jobs

These are the cream of the crop in terms of sports jobs. They are hard as shit to get and are only quasi-legal. That's ok, though. If you get one, you can make a career of it even if you aren't good. People in sports get recycled like old cans. You just have to work hard and do your shit.

Every kid who read Moneyball and played fantasy sports wants to be a GM. Every one of these kids submits a resume to all teams they can find. Having a law degree can make you more marketable than these people. Having a JD + sports experience is even more helpful. Just remember that you might have to work internship + a series of low level jobs here. Personnel work is a lot of fun and you're in better position if you have coding/computer science/statistics/economics as a background. Some people are savvy enough to go from firm work into a position where they have some personnel power, but this is tough.

Do some research and see how people made it into their current positions. Jon Daniels of the Rangers worked as an intern with the Rockies at age 25 with a Cornell degree. Rick Hahn of the White Sox got his MBA and his JD, then built a relationship with Jerry Colangelo. Mike Tannenbaum of the Jets went to Tulane Law and worked for the Saints while he was there (as an intern). He's now GM of the Jets. Tons of these stories are out there, and you haven't heard of most the people who have gone the grunt work route (Zack Rosenthal, Thad Levine, etc.).


A backup plan

Don't count on working in sports in this capacity. You can count on being a minor league assistant GM, but these are shit jobs. If you want to do this, you don't have to go to law school. Law school can help in landing these jobs, but it's too expensive if you are dead set on sports.

Aim big and be willing to work. Make a connection with every person you meet. Build relationships. Have three ears and no mouth. Then be prepared to fail and be a "regular" lawyer. This is why I'm doing firm work and hoping to use my experience to move over team side. I'm also actively preparing for this by having spent 1L summer working in sports and splitting my 2L summer with a big firm and a sports team. But I'm prepared for it to not work out. And I have the best connection in sports that anyone could have (short of being related to someone high up, in which case you shouldn't read this). This connection is gold. It's invitations to the owners box, dinners at the home, etc., I am not "set." I have a chance, but it will take some luck for it to turn into something good. And I've had to work and hustle my tail off to even be in this position.

Can it be done? Yes. But going to law school planning on being a sports lawyer is a good way to be disappointed. And in debt.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273508
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:25 pm

Forget the sports law internships/ass kissing/relationships route. If you want to make it in sports, find a way to get filthy rich, go out and buy a major league franchise and name yourself GM.

kenpowers3
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:20 pm

Re: Sport Law Internships

Postby kenpowers3 » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:38 am

Thank you to whoever the anon user is who posted that amazing response two posts above me. If you read this I would really appreciate if you sent me a pm so I could ask you a couple questions as I plan on working in sports this summer and would love to get some advice on the future (if your comfortable with it of course).




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