Last Updated on April 19, 2023
Disclaimer: The following is for informational purposes only. The author of this article currently attends Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Every undergraduate student who ever thinks about going to law school looks at many different aspects of the experience, such as: costs, location, bar passage rates, job prospects, ranking, and opportunities available to students. While some law students know that they want to attend law school to become a sports agent or work for a team, some students fall into it. That is what happened to me, I fell into sports.
With roughly nine weeks to go until graduation, here are a few pieces of advice and experiences I would recommend to any future or current law student interested in sports.
Connections Are Everything
Every connection you make, even the ones you made in high school, pays off in the end. My high school Kiwanis advisor’s son coaches for the Green Bay Packers, and tried to help me get a job. I worked for a Congressman in college who was a former athlete, and proposed some of the only NIL legislation to the U.S. Congress based on his time at The Ohio State University (yes, an actual federal law to protect student athletes).
Had I known that in five years I would regularly write about the topic that made my eyes gloss over as a sophomore in college, I would not believe it. It was because of this experience working for someone who could love sports and politics, and do both, that ultimately allowed me to grow in this space.
Talk to Everyone You Can
Take time to talk to everyone. While this may see like the same advice as above, it is not. If I had not taken the time to talk to the Co-Dean while giving my parents a tour of the school, I would not have connected with alumni in the NFL or the professors who taught my sports law classes. That five minute conversation at the time did not seem to be a big deal, but when plans aren’t coming through it is nice to have a solid five minute conversation to land on for another opportunity. In fact, that is how I ended up here.
Get Involved in Local Sports
Take every opportunity to get involved in sports at your law school, local colleges and conferences, and local professional teams.
If your school offers any form of sports law courses, take all of them. It provides you not only a strong academic foundation in sports, but also some of your first connections.
Taking every opportunity also means you should play on a baseball team to learn more soft skills such as how to better communicate and work with others, because in sports you are always on a team.
Work with local conferences and colleges to give back to the community for the opportunities that they have given you, whether it be a home, a family, a shared meal, or a game. Give back to that community so that others are given the same opportunity to be inspired like you. While it is probably a given, join your school’s version of a sports club, journal, or collective, as a way to continue to get more experience in sports.
Create Your Own Opportunities in Sports Law
If you take nothing else from this piece, please take this: if there is not an opportunity, make an opportunity.
I would not have had the opportunity to play on a baseball team for the bar association as a first-year law student had I not made one.
Students at my school would not have the opportunity to compete in professional competitions regarding the futures of athletes had I not found them in random resumes and received support from the school and my peers to build it out. The professional competitions I referenced are the Tulane Professional Football Negotiation Competition and the Tulane International Baseball Arbitration Competition.
If there is a yearly conference for sports lawyers, attend the conference, so you learn all of the big names quickly and early. The yearly conference would be the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries conference in October. The other yearly conference I would recommend is South by Southwest based in Austin, Texas, every March.
Get Invested in Your Peers
Take time to get involved in your law school’s sports law club and local sports community. Students who came before you want to see that you are interested in investing in the future of the same organization, before they help you. It not only helps build your resume, but also continues new and old legacies.
During my second year of law school I worked for the Mid-American Conference in their Compliance department. Because of that experience, I gained a background on how institutions worked with local governing bodies, which led me to NIL and this job.
Remember: We All Struggle
Sports law students are defined by their determination, grit, and courage, to pursue a career in this field. Do not give up when the going gets tough, keep going, your life will come together in even bigger ways than you could have ever imagined.
Keep an Open Mind
Life has a funny way of working out in ways better than you could have ever imagined, so keep an open mind about people, jobs, and locations, because you never know when one of those five-minute conversations will change your life.
I know I only represent one of many law students who are participating in sports law programs across the country, so I would encourage you to check out our page here with many of the other sports law programs in the United States.
I wish you the best of luck, no matter where you are on your law school journey. It is an exciting time full of discovery and opportunity, just waiting for you to take advantage of it.