Headline Sports Law

Q&A With Sports Attorney Jay Reisinger

A couple of weeks ago, everyone was wondering the following: 1) Did Alex Rodriguez really fire Scott Boras as his agent, and 2) Did A-Rod then hire Jay Reisinger to take over as his new agent of record? Papers reported that A-Rod has in fact left Boras, but he has not hired Reisinger to take over as his MLBPA certified agent. Instead, A-Rod and Reisinger have an existing relationship where Reisinger, along with Jim Sharp, serve as A-Rod’s attorneys for off the field matters. There are opportunities for people interested in Sports Law who may not want to become a standard sports agent. Enjoy the Q&A below with Jay Reisinger.

Darren Heitner: What percentage of your firm’s work is related to Sports Law? What about your individual work?

Jay Reisinger: My personal caseload is about 85% Sports Law related. Sports Law is about 50% of my firm’s total caseload. My firm also handles white-collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation.

Heitner: What is the most interesting Sports Law case you have ever litigated?

Reisinger: I’ve been lucky that in my career in that I have had a number of interesting Sports Law cases. However, the most interesting Sports Law matter that I handled was Sammy Sosa’s testimony before Congress related to performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. The shear number of interested parties and competing interests created an intriguing and challenging atmosphere. It was also the first case that I worked on with James Sharp, a well-known Washington, D.C. trial attorney who has also worked with me on Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

Heitner: What are your thoughts on the current final-offer arbitration in baseball? Any ideas on how to make the proceedings leading up to a hearing, and the hearing itself, more effective?

Reisinger: I believe that final-offer arbitration works to the benefit of the entire salary arbitration system. Final-offer arbitration encourages mutually agreed upon settlements, which is why, on a percentage basis, very few cases actually go to hearing. Hearings are reserved for those cases where, in the main, there is a philosophical chasm between the player and the club. Given that the system works well for all parties, I am not in favor of making any modifications to it.

Heitner: Does your negotiation strategy include anything that we won’t find much of in negotiation textbooks?

Reisinger: I’m not sure that I read any negotiation textbooks, so I’m not sure what’s in them! I truly believe that it’s a skill acquired through experience. That being said, I have found that the most useful negotiating tactic is preparation. The ability to quickly counter on specific negotiating points at the table has served me extremely well. Further, if you prepare for every eventuality, you are never surprised.

Heitner: Should the NCAA’s no-agent rule be abolished, or at least modified?

Reisinger: At a minimum, it should be modified. The James Paxton and Andy Oliver cases were perfect examples. How is a college (or potentially college-bound) student supposed to make life-changing decisions without appropriate and experienced counsel? Quite frankly, the NCAA’s position on the matter is outrageous.

Heitner: You are a certified player agent with the MLBPA. Do you currently represent anybody on a team’s 40man roster? Who have been your more noteworthy clients?

Reisinger: I am a certified agent with the MLBPA, but I don’t represent (as an agent) any player on a 40-man roster. I represent professional and amateur athletes as an attorney. I represent athletes in disciplinary matters, grievance proceedings, eligibility matters, criminal and civil litigation, and salary arbitration. I help them to understand the different and common litigation terms while making sure that they are well represented. I have represented players such as Sammy Sosa, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, and Francisco Rodriguez, just to name a few. Above all, there are lots of different reasons why athletes might end up facing criminal litigation. Because of this, it is vital that they work with someone who understands the complexities of the legal matters at hand. It is also helpful if a legal professional has local knowledge of the area in which any alleged crimes took place. For instance, if an athlete living and working in Philadelphia has been accused of a crime that they did not commit, then working with the best team of criminal lawyers bucks county has to offer is strongly recommended. More often than not, we find that working with a local attorney leads to a better outcome.

Heitner: Does your firm have any plans to expand outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or to hire any new associates?

Reisinger: As it stands now, we have a nationwide practice that just happens to be based in Pittsburgh. We are always looking for talented attorneys and staff who share our passion for the work that we perform for our clients.

Heitner: What would you suggest to somebody who is interested in not only being a sports agent, but practicing in the area of Sports Law?

Reisinger: The most important advice that I can give to those interested in Sports Law is to get practical legal experience in areas outside of Sports Law. Prior to focusing on Sports Law, I practiced primarily white-collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation. The experience that I gained in these areas, including litigation skills, has served me, and more importantly, my clients, well.

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.