Within Balch and Bingham LLP — a corporate law firm that houses 250 attorneys across a half dozen cities and concentrates in a number of practice areas — is its niche Sports Group. Led by Russ Campbell and Patrick Strong, the division has represented both pro and college coaches over the last seven years, with negotiation figures totaling over $200 million.
Campbell and Strong both told the Birmingham Business Journal that establishing genuine relationships with their clients has been key to gaining a presence in the sports agency industry. At the same time, the duo said that maintaining their integrity and being honest with themselves has helped them be selective in which clients they represent.
“We develop a very personal relationship with our clients,” Campbell said. “The best part is the ability to invest in their lives, get to know them on a very personal basis and stand with them through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”
Added Strong: “That same personal relationship also makes the job challenging at times. It’s difficult to sit with a family in their living room while their world falls apart in front of you live on SportsCenter and message boards across the country. For all the private jets and sideline passes, there are just as many gut-wrenching moments that make you thankful you and your family aren’t subjected to the same microscope.”
The Sports Group totes a list of current and former clients that have included the likes of former University of Alabama coach and current Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator, Mike Shula, along with former Auburn University coach, Gene Chizik.