Interview With The Agent: Brian McLaughlin
Brian McLaughlin is the Vice President of Symmetry and a NFLPA certified Contract Advisor. McLaughlin is a graduate of Iona College where he received a Bachelors in Business Administration; he then furthered his education at Suffolk University Law School where he received his Juris Doctor.
McLaughlin is a licensed attorney in the state of New York where he is a member of the New York State Bar Association. In 2013 and 2014, Sports Launch magazine named Brian to its annual “Thirty under 30? award list, which designates the top thirty sports executives under the age of 30.
D’Bria Bradshaw: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career as a sports agent?
Brian McLaughlin:I realized I wanted to be a sports agent during my first year of law school. I attended several sports law discussions organized by Boston area law schools, and I was immediately intrigued by the subject matter. I knew I needed to gain practical experience in the sports representation business, so I focused on finding an opportunity that would allow me to determine if being an agent was what I really wanted to do. During the fall semester of my second year in law school, I interned for K Sports and Entertainment in Boston. I gained valuable experience interning there, and I decided that I wanted to continue to pursue my goal of becoming an agent. Shortly after my internship was completed, I met my current business partner Mook Williams, and we’ve been working together ever since.
D’Bria Bradshaw: How long have you been a certified NFLPA Agent? Have the skills you developed in law school helped shape your agent skills?
Brian McLaughlin: I have been an NFLPA certified contract advisor since 2012. The skills I developed, both in law school and as an attorney, have been important to my success as an agent. When players select me to represent them, they have a comfort level about my ability to negotiate contracts. Other than the study of contracts, agency, sports law, and other important courses, I believe law school teaches you to approach each situation with a healthy amount of skepticism, which is essential to being an agent. In any negotiation for your client, you have to be able to anticipate potential issues that could arise. In addition, law school is helpful in emphasizing the importance of being prepared. It is essential to any negotiation to be over-prepared, so you can achieve the best results for your client.
D’Bria Bradshaw: What inspired you and Mook Williams to create your own agency, Symmetry?
Brian McLaughlin: Mook Williams and I founded Symmetry, because we wanted to build an agency from the ground up that reflected the principles we thought were essential to the athlete representation business. Honesty, loyalty, and responsiveness to our clients were some of the key building blocks upon which our company was founded. We were very fortunate that some great players chose us to represent them in the beginning, and we have been building ever since without ever comprising our values. It has been a great experience building Symmetry into what it is today. I believe we are making a positive impact on the athlete representation business, and that has been one of our goals since the inception of Symmetry.
D’Bria Bradshaw: The NFL Draft was just a few weeks ago, what were the days like during that time for you as the agent and for Symmetry athletes?
Brian McLaughlin: The days leading up to and during the NFL Draft are somewhat stressful for both players and agents. Everyone has put in a lot of work and is anxious to see what the teams will do. For the players, they are mostly staying in shape, answering calls from teams, and trying to stay relaxed during that time. For us, we are fielding calls from teams, organizing and updating all our draft data, and communicating with our clients in an effort to provide them with the most accurate information on their draft stock.
D’Bria Bradshaw: Where do you see yourself and the industry heading over the next 5-10 years?
Brian McLaughlin: Personally, I am looking forward to Symmetry growing over the next 5-10 years by using the same principles that have gotten us to this point. I think our positive reputation continues to spread, so I believe we are on a good trajectory going forward.
The industry could look very different 5-10 years in the future. A big question will be what will happen to college athletics? I believe there are significant changes coming, and those changes will directly affect how agents represent these athletes. I could potentially envision a scenario where college athletes are allowed to join marketing campaigns and receive compensation from their involvement. As a result, college athletes would need representation in those deals. It will be interesting to see how these issues play out, and it’s definitely an exciting time if you enjoy sports law like I do.
D’Bria Bradshaw: What advice do you have for those looking to enter the representation field?
Brian McLaughlin: It is probably best to get some practical work experience in the field. I know plenty of people that after interning at an agency decided it was not for them. Outside of gaining experience, I recommend closely following the sport in which you wish to become an agent. Twitter is a great tool to follow players, agents, leagues, media, and other valuable sources of information on one platform. Generally, if you are knowledgeable about a subject, and can market your skills accordingly, you will be a good candidate for an agency to consider. Or you could just do what I did and go start your own venture.
D’Bria Bradshaw: If you could give the 18 year old Brian some advice in 140 characters or less, what would it be?
Brian McLaughlin: I would tell myself that it’s never too early to start building something.
McLaughlin can be followed on twitter: @Brian_Symmetry.