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Law Jobs In Sports: 11 Career Paths

I previously wrote about how you can get into Sports Law and explained how sports law is a concept of law that is extremely broad. Pursuing law jobs in sports are even broader, as I am currently experiencing.

Most people think pursuing a career in sports law means becoming an agent for professional athletes. As I am currently finding out on my journey into the sports industry, obtaining a career in sports law as many different faces.

If you are looking for a career in sports law, think about going with one or more of the paths I have outlined below.

11 Sports Law Jobs In Sports To Look At

Sports Agent

Sports agent is usually the first thought in most people’s minds when sports law is mentioned (thanks a lot, Jerry Maguire).

Although you may not be screaming “show me the money,” being a sports agent may be your dream career. Sports agents handle most of the day-to-day aspects for their clients. Agents’ duties range from financial and legal issues to negotiating contract deals to giving advice about life after professional sports.

Agents may have clients that are not professional athletes, but represent management like coaches or general managers. These agents may not represent the big-time talent, but they are certainly still involved in the sports world

Entertainment/Sports Lawyer

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An Entertainment/Sports lawyer has many of the same duties as a sports agent.

One major difference is that an Entertainment/Sports lawyer is usually working through a law firm and not an agency, as an agent would. This is a crucial difference because a lawyer will get paid by the hour, as opposed to being paid by a percentage of each secured contract deal.

An Entertainment/Sports lawyer client base is more extensive than sports agents. This client base includes, but is not limited to: athletes, coaches, sports facilities, sports managers, sporting goods or equipment manufactures or suppliers.

An Entertainment/Sports lawyer is likely to represent his or her client for litigation, mediation, or arbitration purposes. Whereas a sports agent is likely to outsource these issues to another attorney.

Compliance

In today’s society, compliance within the sports industry is a major issue. That is why having compliance officers to conform to the rules and regulations of the various industries is important.

Compliance officers are responsible for the development, implementation, and monitoring of all systems designed to ensure compliance with the specific organizations or associations. The NCAA is a perfect example of an organization that requires compliance officers from various institutions to interpret its many bylaws and enforce the bylaws among the many student-athletes within the NCAA.

General Manager

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A general manager (GM) has many duties that include finances, marketing, facility issues, media and public relations, contract negotiations and player personnel decisions.

As it may be, a recent trend within the NBA has seen many individuals with a Juris Doctor degree obtain positions as a general manager. This may because GMs are responsible for so many duties where a J.D. may be helpful (contract negotiations, interpreting rules and regulations, etc.).

General Counsel for a Sports Franchise

Sport franchises are very complex business organizations that need to be protected as well as profitable so, of course, insert lawyers.

The general counsel for sports franchises usually advise management, staff and ownership on the legal implications of a variety of transactions, undertakings, events and disputes, along with a countless amount of other duties.

General counsel positions are extremely hard to obtain, since sport organizations are looking to hire attorneys with prior in-house counsel experience.

General Counsel for a Players Association

Any professional players association mission is to ensure that the rights of the players are protected, and that every conceivable measure is taken to assist players in maximizing their opportunities.

Since unions govern professional leagues, an extensive knowledge in both labor law and employment law will be helpful to sufficiently represent players.

Sports Commissioner

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Recent Commissioners of professional sporting leagues have been attorneys at some point in their life.

David Stern, Paul Tagliabue, and future NBA Commissioner Adam Silver all have law degrees.

Since professional leagues are complex entities, and the Commissioner is essentially the CEO of the entity, it may be a good idea to hire someone with a law degree in order to represent the best interests of the owners, while resolving any disputes the players and owners may have.

Defense Attorney

In today’s society, professional athletes are always under the microscope of the local and national media.

This constant attention does not always favor professional athletes whom may get into trouble with the law. It seems like more and more athletes are getting hit with criminal charges everyday.

With this (actual or perceived) increase of athletes in the criminal system, athletes will look for the best criminal attorneys they can find to get them out of unpredictable circumstances. The defense attorney’s job is to do just that, and can become one of the most important people in an athlete’s life during a tough time.

Sports Law Professor

Rather than practice law, some people attend law school to learn and master the law so that they can teach it later in life.

Academia is an outlet for those whom like to research the law in order to look for ways to improve or update the law, and then educate those whom are interested in learning. Teaching sports law is a way to stay connected to the sports law industry while also creating ways to improve the industry.

Government and Politics

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If you are interested in working in the public sector and are passionate about sports, you should consider working for a states legislature.

State lawmakers are able to permit or prohibit the funding of sports facilities or sports franchises within the State (See, Minnesota Vikings new stadium; Seattle’s attempt to move an NBA team to the city).

Journalism or Writing

Going from a law degree to journalism may seem like a backward way to approach a career, but you may be able to benefit from becoming a full-time writer or analyst.

Major sporting networks like ESPN and Fox Sports 1 are always looking for legal analysts to help breakdown the complex issues that many occur within the sports industry. Take ESPN’s legal analyst Roger Cossack for example.

Also, there are always opportunities to display for legal knowledge and writing through blogs, websites, scholarly articles and book publications.

Don’t Be Limited To These Sports Law Jobs!

Sports law jobs

By no means is this meant to be an extensive list of what sports law careers are out there for you to pursue. This list is meant to be a starting point for those interested in sports law and want to learn more about the different possibilities for careers.

Some of the careers listed are extremely difficult to obtain, but with the right mindset and perfection of your craft, anything is possible.

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