Analysis of “So You Want to be a Sports Lawyer, or is it a Player Agent, Player Representative, Sports Agent, Contract Advisor, Family Advisor or Contract Representative?”

Before I get into the notes of the Law Review article written by Dean Robert P. Garbarino in the Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, I want to say that this piece was one of the best ones I have ever read on sports law. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a source besides Lexis-Nexis to provide the entire document. If you do not have access to Lexis-Nexis, and have any luck finding a free source, please list it in the comments area. I have done my best to paraphrase the document and list what I find to be important below:
It is extremely difficult for a sports lawyer to sustain an enjoyable income based solely on representing athletes in contract negotiations. In order to survive on just contract negotiations, a sports lawyer would need a substantial number of clients, which is rare. The nice thing about being a sports lawyer and agent is that a lawyer who specialized in sports law can do a lot more than just contract negotiations.

The author belives that an athlete is best served by an attorney-agent (over one that is not an attorney) that maintains a low public profile (instead of one who is confrontational) and is registered with his/her sport’s player’s union.

Most important to a young lawyer becoming a player agent is that such a person makes sure that his/her first client is pleased with the service provided and will thus recommend the lawyer to others in the industry. A negative recommendation can end the lawyer’s practice right away.

Alternate terms often used for Sports Agent:
NFLPA: Contract Advisor
MLBPA & NBPA: Player Agent

This law review article makes an important point that all aspiring law school students interested in sports law should understand: going to a law school with a Sports Law specialty means that you will be studying normal legal issues such as antitrust law and tax law in a sports context. Just because you want to be a Sports Agent does not mean that a law school with a Sports Law program is right for you. In fact, the days of being able to say that you want to be a Sports Agent are numbered. Because of the huge competition in that field, it is now necessary to say that you are interested in the business of sports in general and give yourself enough options if your dream of becoming a Sports Agent does not work out.

Here are some issues discussed in the area of sports law (do they interest you enough to go to a law school such as Tulane or Marquette?):

Collective Bargaining AgreementsGeneral Contract Provisions (ex: minimum player salary, maximum agent fees, etc.), Merchandising and Licensing Rights (ex: endorsement or appearance issues), Standard Form Contracts, Scope of a Commissioner’s Authority.

Workers’ Compensation – Claims for retired players are increasing and there is discussion of whether college athletes are eligible.

Sports-Related TortsLiability for Fan Injuries at Athletic Contests, Educational Malpractice, Duty and Required Standard of Care of a Team Physician Treating Scholarship Athletes, Tax-Related Issues (ex: player’s compensation, tax status of teams, college revenues).

Antitrust Issues in Professional SportsNBA/NFL Salary Cap, NFL Antitrust Litigation, Major League Baseball’s Exemption from Antitrust Laws.

NCAA RegulationsEligibility for Professional Drafts (ex: jeopardizing college eligibility by signing with an agent – basketball & football players can inquire about their market value and basketball players can even declare for the draft without losing eligibility), Procedural Due Process (the NCAA is not a state actor), Compliance with Title IX’s Gender Equity Requirement (I personally think this is a very hot issue…realted to giving equal opportunity to participate in sports for both sexes), NCAA Drug Testing Program

It is refreshing to realize that this site has discussed many of the topics listed above. Is there something above that you feel I have not touched upon and would like more information about? E-mail me, or drop a comment below.

[tags]sports agent, sports agents, sports lawyer, sport lawyer, law, lawyer, ncaa, salary cap, collective bargaining agreement, title IX, nfl, nba, mlb[/tags]

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  • I have been a practicing lawyer for more than 37 years and have had the opportunbity to counsel and advise, consult and review legal related matters for professional, non professional entities including participants in sport and entertainment. In my opinion, it is critical and most beneficial to the client to have a person schooled and knowledgeable regarding the differing aspects of the law as an advisor. These would include business formation, real and personal property matters, agency, contracts, litigation, marital matters, estate planning, tax, and retirement benefits, workers compensation and even elder law and retirement planning. The ethical responsibilities of a certified practicing attorney make the client and his or her interests paramount to the business of earning money. Even the opporunity of solicitation and advertising are restricted. I do not believe that there is any professional comparison available to the so called “agent”.