Adisa Bakari is a 1995 cum laude graduate of Delaware State University and 1998 graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School. Bakari has been admitted to the District of Columbia and Maryland Bar. He is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP and chair of its Sports Entertainment Group.
Bakari is an NFL Certified Player Agent & NBA Certified Player Agent with memberships in the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association, Sport Lawyers Association, and Moot Court Board just to name a few. Bakari was an honoree in 2013 Washingtonian magazine Top Lawyer, was recognized among the “Who’s Who in Washington’s Sports Business Industry” in Washingtonian magazine, and in 2009 was recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in both The National Law Journal and The Network Journal.
D’Bria Bradshaw: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career as a sports agent and what factors played a role in this decision?
Adisa Bakari: By my junior year in college, it became more than apparent to me that my childhood dream of playing in the NFL would not materialize. While I possessed the passion and work ethic required to play at the highest level, there’s this strange concept referred to as “athletic ability” that I severely lacked. But, by then, I better appreciated how the NFL could positively impact individuals, families and communities. And, I wanted to be a part of ensuring that such to place.
D’Bria Bradshaw: How has your legal background helped you during your career?
Adisa Bakari: My legal training is essential to my career. While my NFLPA agent certification is required to represent NFL players, it’s my legal training that has afforded me the requisite skill to more than adequately service my clients. Whether it’s reviewing contracts or business proposals, or negotiating with NFL GMs, my legal background has proven paramount to my success.
D’Bria Bradshaw: What’s the most difficult aspect of your job?
Adisa Bakari: The most challenging aspect of my job is impressing upon young millionaires the importance of adhering to our advice and counsel.
D’Bria Bradshaw: Where do you see yourself and the industry heading in the next 5 years?
Adisa Bakari: As for athlete representation, I see more traditional business law firms like mine (Kelley Drye & Warren LLP) moving into the space. For obvious reasons, I’m hoping this prediction is waaaayy off.
D’Bria Bradshaw: In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of being a sports agent?
Adisa Bakari: The most important aspect of this job is to provide a high level of service to the clients and to communicate effectively with each of them.
D’Bria Bradshaw: What advice do you have for young professionals looking to enter the athletic representation field?
Adisa Bakari: My advice to young professionals desiring to enter this profession is to revisit their reasons for wanting to do so in the first instance. If it’s simply for the perceived money and glamour of being a sports agent, then make a U turn now and choose another profession. There are several other fields that offer good pay and are exciting, but don’t present the same challenges that, frankly, are routine for a sports agent. They’re easier ways to make money, for sure. My advice is to choose a career because you are passionate about that path, pay and lore notwithstanding.
You can follow Adisa Bakari on twitter: @AdisaBakri and The Sports Entertainment Group at Kelley Drye: @TheSportsEntGrp