Headline Interview With The Agent

Interview With The Agent: Eric Wiesel

Eric R. Wiesel went to California State University, Sacramento and Lincoln Law School before joining the law firm of Matheny Sears Linkert & Jaime.  He is a partner at the firm and heads its sports practice with an NBA, WNBA, and NFLPA license.  Two of his more notable clients are Rebekkah Brunson (All-Star and US National Team) and Armintie Price (2007 WNBA Rookie of The Year).

Darren Heitner: How did you get started in this industry?

Eric Wiesel: After graduating from law school and starting to practice as a litigating attorney I was introduced by a business client to an NBA player being abused by his agent – no communication, accountability or respect. There were also financial irregularities. As an advocate and man I couldn’t believe the way the athlete/person was being treated – as an employee rather than an employer. At roughly the same time, I was introduced to a WNBA player who was having the same issues – except the lack of respect and honesty from her agent was even greater. I deeply wanted to make a difference in their careers and lives. I had found the career I feel completely passionate about.

Darren Heitner: You are a partner in the law firm, Matheny Sears Linkert & Jaime.  What are some of the positives and negatives of being a part of a major law firm while representing professional athletes?

Eric Wiesel: Being a partner in a law firm is a tremendous advantage. I am a trained advocate who spent his entire career as a lawyer negotiating and advocating for local, national and international clients. I have tremendous resources and don’t need to work with unlimited clients to pay the power bill. I can carefully select and work to be excellent with a smaller group of clients. The firm provides my income and, as a result, I don’t need to rely on an assistant to manage my clients – it is all me. Any legal services my clients need and want I obviously provide and encourage – creating an LLC, foundation and/or preparing wills, etc. In addition, as one of the partners who run the law firm I have the experience and proven ability to help each of my clients run their own companies – I encourage each client to view their career as a business.

Darren Heitner: Why are there very few law firms with athlete representation practices?

Eric Wiesel: Lawyers have very busy and compacted schedules. Litigation requires the creation of a strategy for each case and the vision to make that strategy end in a favorable outcome for your client. It can and should be very involved. Time doesn’t usually allow a full-time litigator/firm to build a sports practice. It takes time, money and extra energy when at many times does not exist. I worked two full-time jobs when I first started – trial attorney and agent. Now I do nothing but work with athletes – I paid my dues and because of my unique skills and background my clients benefit. My partners are always supportive and I now work out of my own home office with the freedom to work and travel anywhere for my clients.

Darren Heitner: You have negotiated over 400 professional sports contracts in 30 countries during the last 11 years.  What was your most interesting negotiation, and why?

Eric Wiesel: All negotiations are equally interesting because my goal is always the same – to secure the absolute best possible situation for my client…to ensure they are happy, safe and receive the maximum compensation for what they do.

Darren Heitner: Give us an idea of some of the things you do for your clients outside of negotiating their professional contracts.

Eric Wiesel: I look at each client as a whole person. Negotiating a contract is critical but, in reality, a very small part of what I do. Enforcing that contract and ensuring my clients are cared for is my first priority. I also look for any source of outside income and push my clients to always prepare for the time when playing will no longer be an option. A career can be over in an instant and I feel it’s tragic when agents don’t push their clients to prepare for the “rest” of their lives.

Darren Heitner: What did going to law school do for your advancement in this profession, and would you recommend that future agents obtain a JD?

Eric Wiesel: Going to law school and being an attorney is critical. All I do is advocate, negotiate and enforce. Why would you hire a non-lawyer to do lawyer work? Most non-attorney agents either hire
Lawyers or just wing it. Why would someone hire a person to secure and enforce a legal document that has no training in doing so? I want to be the one who does everything – the responsibility starts and stops with me and that’s how I like it.

Darren Heitner: Do you find yourself more restricted in what you are able to do than some of your competitors who are not attorneys (recruiting regulations, conflicts of interest, etc)?

Eric Wiesel: As an attorney I am bound by requirements that should be viewed as critical by an athlete. As a member of the bar and officer of the court I must abide by restrictive codes of conduct and ethics. For example, I must always avoid conflicts of interest and must never engage in conduct that is adverse to the best interests of a client. I could spend each day doing nothing but listening to complaints about unethical lawyers with constant conflicts engaging in tragic conduct – most of which is not known by their clients. The rules I must follow do prevent me from recruiting like other agents BUT, in reality, as a man I would never recruit that way anyway. Any potential client whose mentality is directed to unethical conduct is someone I don’t want to work for. Athletes don’t realize that in the end what they do and who works for them will reflect on who and what they are.

Darren Heitner: What made you first get into representing female basketball players?  Do you see a lot of growth for the sport and the potential for future agents to profit off of its rise?

Eric Wiesel: I love working with any athletes who are people of character. I want someone who is as motivated as me to make an impact on sport and society. I look for exceptional people who also happen to be exceptional athletes. My singular goal is to maximize everything they do and experience. I have found this most often with female athletes over the years. I love working for my clients and each becomes a huge part of my world. I take what happens to them very personally. I am a huge fan of women’s sports – I experience and see increasing and important support for what female athletes do. They can be incredible role models and agents for change. I am dedicated to doing whatever I can to contribute positively to the growth of what they do. It is clearly one of my passions in life. I am only concerned that as the popularity of women’s sports grows so does the number of unqualified people trying to work for the athletes. Every year the stories get worse – the damage caused to female athletes by agents who have no business convincing athletes they are capable and care when money is really their only motive.

Darren Heitner: What would you lend as advice to college students looking to break into the industry?  Anything special you would add to college female students?

Eric Wiesel: The advice I have for college students – don’t get into this profession unless you deeply care, take what happens personally and receive the correct education, skills and training. You can ruin a career and life if you are not completely serious and prepared.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

One reply on “Interview With The Agent: Eric Wiesel”

hi my name is tyler dubois of mclaughlin middle school in manchester nh i was just wondering if i could ask you a few questions for my project about sports agents.

Comments are closed.