One of the readers of this blog posed an excellent question in an e-mail. It is a question that there is no definite answer to, but one in which I have wanted to tackle for a while now. The question is:
I’ve been going over some things recently (plus I’m taking
some business classes right now) and it seems to me a great
question to pose is: Which is the best route to go to become a
sports agent — law school or business school? I’d love to get
your take on it because I was thinking law school but the more
I read into things (ie what the Hendricks Brothers, Scott
Boras, Drew Rosenhaus, etc do) I have started to lean towards
business school. It just seems like something where both sides
may pose an equally good case, but it seems like something
people would definitely be willing to post/comment on.
The classic debate is over whether an aspiring Sports Agent should go to law school and pass the bar or if he/she should not bother with law school and become an Agent right after obtaining a Bachelors degree (now it may be worth it to get another type of Masters degree due to the NFLs new rules on a post-graduate degree…although even that rule may be avoided by jumping through some loops). Drew Rosenhaus actually did go to Law School at Duke and talks about it in his book A Shark Never Sleeps, but he did not ever pass the bar in any state, and therefore does not have to comply with the extra rules that lawyers have to deal with when representing clients.
The first book that I ever read on the Sports Agent business is The Business of Sports Agents, and after it being such a long time since I last read it, I think that I will read it over again once I finish a Performance Analysis Basketball book I am currently reading. The Business of Sports Agents goes in depth about a lot of various aspects of the Sports Agent industry (and it even goes in depth about the UAAA, which I have previously discussed), but it does a great job explaining the benefits and negatives of obtaining a Law Degree if you want to be an Agent. Let me go over a few of them…
1. Many athletes and players association reps like the fact that some (not all) lawyers charge by the hour instead of by taking a percentage of the representation agreement.
2. The experience with the law (over 3 years of law school) helps lawyers better understand the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) of the different leagues.
Not Sure Whether Advantage or Disadvantage:
1. Attorneys have to comply with standards after passing the bar (an example is the Model Rules of Professional Conduct).
2. There is more information for clients to determine which person is the right one to choose for representation (such as formal evaluations)
1. Clients that do not feel they were treated properly by a lawyer have a variety of means to lay blame. They can make complains with a bar association and file malpractice claims.
2. Lawyers are held to higher standards and have to avoid a conflict of interest. If a Sports Agent has more than one client and a conflict of interest is evident, that conflict must be disclosed to athletes, and they have to acknowledge it and sign a waiver (think about a case where an Agent represents a player and coach on the same team).
A way to get around the legal issues of being a lawyer is to join or form a Sports Agency that is comprised of Sports Agents without Law School degrees a Lawyer(s) to handle the contracts (this is what the company I interned this past Summer did).
In addition, being a Sports Agent is not only about negotiating a contract for your client to play for a particular team. It also includes helping with financial matters (where an accounting degree from somewhere like discover accounting may come in handy), money management (where a finance degree would help), legal consultation (law degree), assisting a client with his/her media image (PR/Advertising), etc.
A full service Sports Agency has employees who are specialized in all of these areas and more. This is the reason why so many athletes choose the IMG’s or the SFX’s instead of going to an Agent that works on his/her own. Once again, the full service Sports Agency takes away the need for one to become a lawyer before becoming a Sports Agent.
There is a lot more that can be said about this subject, but hopefully this is a good starting point.
[tags]Sports Agent, law school, Rosenhaus, lawyer, legal[/tags]