Headline Sports Business

What’s Needed To Break In? Internship? Law School? MBA?

Writing a blog (that is fairly popular) opens you up to many new people that you would never have had the chance to encounter had you never decided to download WordPress (or some other blog publishing program).  I like to think that my company, Dynasty Athlete Representation, has a strong reputation in a limited time of existence with a client roster that is improving by the week.  That said, the company is still a very small fish amongst giants like CAA, BEST, WMG, Rosenhaus Sports, Boras Corp, etc.  Interestingly enough, we still get a ridiculous amount of internship requests from hungry college and post-grad students hoping to break into the industry.  Why us?  People have their various reasons, but the most common answer is that they respect our mission, goals, and platform and want to be a part of a growing company.

For the current Internship Program, Justin Herzig (our HR Director) received over 250 intern applications.  Some were thrown away after reading a couple of lines of the cover letter, but most applicants actually seemed extremely qualified for the limited number of spots available.  Do you need to have a law degree, MBA, or internship to break into this industry?  Read Jack Bechta’s story…the answer is no.  But it surely does help to at least have an internship.  Bechta is a part of a very small minority of people who can succeed in this very difficult profession by printing a few business cards and starting up a company with absolutely no experience.

Bechta mentions that there are several agents with a huge client list that never attended law school.  My response is that an agent is not graded by his client list.  There are also many players who end up suing their agent or leaving the agent because of poor execution of his job.  When I first started law school, I wondered myself why so many people said that it was so important for a person to attend law school in order to be an agent.  Criminal law, Torts, Property, Civil Procedure…yeah they may all come in handy, but probably not.  Then came Contracts, Corporations, Business Organizations, Intellectual Property…now it all makes sense.  The knowledge I have after going to law school coupled with the experience I continue to gain with my own clients makes me a better agent every day.

There is also going the route of Bechta and keeping an attorney on retainer for your firm.  I still think that if given the opportunity, go to law school.  Players like having a one-stop shop for all their needs (that’s why CAA, WMG, etc. continue to dominate).  I think that they also want an agent who can wear more than one hat.  To bring a personal knowledge of the law to every negotiation and not have to rely on another person seems to bring some extra value to the table.

As far as grad school for some sort of Sports Management MBA is concerned, I am not completely sold.  If you go that route, I think you should definitely heed Bechta’s advice.  Look at who the professors are and the subjects being taught before you spend all that money.

I can’t disagree with Bechta when he says that overall the 2 most important qualities for success in this industry are:

  1. a competitive nature
  2. determination

Along with that, I will add a third quality: 3) innovation.  There are so many agents out there going after the same clients, giving the same pitch, and providing the same services.  Do something to make yourself stand out.  Sorry, I already created, so making a blog about the sports agent world will not really separate you.  Spend some time thinking about what you can do to make yourself a thing of value.  I promise that the time taken will be well worth it.

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.

12 replies on “What’s Needed To Break In? Internship? Law School? MBA?”

Thank you Darren for this post. I also followed the link to Jack Bechta's advice. Another great article just in time as I am applying to graduate school for Sports Industry Management.

This is very helpful as I am in the process of searching for job listings, and contemplating going back to school since the job market is so horrible.

Advice on taking the LSATs? Book suggestions or classes? Thanks.

Darren, I have been following your blog and your company for sometime and I have been looking to break into the industry through an internship for the past 6 months. I will be graduated with business degree emphasis in marketing in August 09' . If I do not find an internship with a sports agency is there any other jobs that may appeal to agencies for future consideration. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks

Hope you are enjoying the blog and are having as much fun as I am watching Dynasty grow. Internships are tough to come by, especially when a smaller company like mine is getting so many applicants. Imagine how many emails and letters CAA, WMG, IMG, etc. receive each day. Any professional job will make you a more desirable candidate. Try to think of what an agency might look for out of an individual. Also, if it is a job where you have a big responsibility, that helps.

Very useful and entertaining article as usual. As a recent law graduate, my opinion (and likely DH's) is probably strongly biased. However, I can see both sides of the argument.

The type of approach that law school trains you to have towards problems provides (in my opinion) a valuable feather in an agent's cap. How valuable that feather may actually be is hard to gauge and may never be quantified. While I am completely sold on the idea of being an attorney for several reasons, I truly wont know the value for me until I really hit the trail hard(er) for clients.

At a minimum I think the law background (whether practicing or not) will always lend credibility and will likely never hurt. But success can be had with a variety of factors in your corner (luck, tenacity, growing up w/ a superstar), and can certainly be done without the expensive piece of paper!

Thats good to know since I’ve been planning on going to law school after i get my Bachelor’s degree, but what do agencies rally like to see for an undergrad’s major? Also, are there many opportunities at all for internships at agencies for undergrad students?

If you take the Law Degree route, does going to a smaller law school hurt your chances of nabbing an internship ans eventually a job?

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