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How Do You Become a Sports Lawyer?

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on January 26, 2016 1:00 PM

When asked what area of law they'd like to pursue, 2Ls and 3Ls traditionally say BigLaw partner, prosecutor, or in-house counsel. But lately, new grads are looking for something that will be more ... interesting.

One of these brass ring careers is sports law. But, as you already knew, one does not simply slip into sports law and start negotiation multi-million dollar contracts right out of the gate. That is, not unless they're extremely lucky.

Right Place, Right Time: Okay, no one is going to serve you the usual gunk story that luck doesn't play a role in your eventual career. Luck is huge. You can do yourself a major favor by seeking out tenured professors who teach sports law in your school. If you were smart before you applied to law school, you already searched this out. If not, don't despair. There are still networking events at major cities that allow you to rub shoulders with law professors who can put you in touch with young up-and-coming college sports hopefuls.

Know the Right Law: You can, however, boost your future luck and prospect by knowing the right area of law, including antitrust and contract review. Fortunately, contracts is a 1L class. Unfortunately, not all schools offer courses in contract review and negotiations. If you can't get those classes, actively search for internship programs that will at least give you some contract review experience.

Join the Sports Lawyers Association: You should join the Sports Lawyers Association. If you're a student, you'll enjoy a reduced rate to do so. The site also has a ton of information about upcoming SLA events that allow you to get up close and personal with current members. Beware, of course, of other students who will no doubt be horning in on your game.

Ace Your Exams: According to Professor Roger Abrams, who teaches law at Northeastern University, most sport lawyers actually work at larger firms. And since we all know that large law firms have their choice of the cream of the upper-crust students, you have to ace your exams in order to really catch eyeballs.

Get in Around the Edges: If you end up in a practice area that involves contract law, you might still eventually find yourself in the industry because sports law involves so much contract work. With enough exposure through contract work, you might eventually find yourself picking up enough experience and contacts to make your sports lawyer dream come true.

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