By Vincent Chiaverini
Ladies and gentlemen the moment you have all been waiting for, is finally here…introducing—drum roll—…the one and only…2019 Annual Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium at California Western School of Law! Hosted by your very own, Entertainment and Sports Law Society (ESLS).
What exactly is this symposium? Law students and other practicing lawyers attend the event to better understand what it takes to work in the sports and entertainment industry. ESLS assembled a diverse lineup, which included guest speakers who were sports agents, general counsel for baseball organizations, and even lawyers who work for Marvel Television.
Topics ranged from working as a solo sports agent, tackling social media, and figuring out how to land the right client. Randy M. Grossman, Esq., is a certified player agent with the Major League of Baseball. He touched on how to make it as a solo agent and went on to say, “Being successful as an agent is mostly about having the players have that trust in you…play at your strengths; it is better to be an inch wide and a mile deep and to be realistic to yourself.”
The other panel speakers seemed to agree with Grossman. The overall theme was to keep it personal throughout the process, because everyone has unique stories that can add value to their sports career. The biggest takeaways from this discussion topic were to build meaningful relationships, know everyone is working with the same system, and realize that having a background in law will give you a leg up on the competition.
In our age of developing technology, it was inevitable that social media would be brought up and discussed. Howard Williams, Esq., is a practicing lawyer who specializes in sports law. He had one very important thing to say about social media: “Don’t screw up.” This was in reference to holding yourself, or as an agent holding your players, to a professional standard. In a society where the Internet dominates, once something goes online, it stays online (even if you delete it). With millions of eyes staring at a black screen all day, employers and sports leagues are getting more and more involved in social media. Why? Because this age of technology gives everyone a new and innovative platform to market themselves to others.
Charles Misuraca, Esq., is a certified NBA and International Basketball Federation (FIBA) licensed agent and attorney who finds new players to represent on Instagram. Misuraca emphasized the importance of managing social media posts, stressing that “this isn’t high school, this isn’t college, and remember whatever you are doing act like a professional.” With all eyes glued to your every move, Misuraca explained the significance behind managing and representing these players positively on any and all social media accounts. As a representative, the pressure is on. Not only is someone else’s livelihood in your hands, but also society is depending on you as it begins to praise, follow, tweet, and wish they were just like these players. Knowing how strongly influenced society can be, teams now give lessons and offer social media classes to their players. Although everyone has a mind of their own and can post what they want, breaking news can sometimes break the internet…and your job.
Lawyers and students both were dying to know: how to land a client and keep them? When it comes to representing players, James Hess, Esq., who runs a sport and entertainment company, said, “manage expectations early… I am a lawyer, but in an agent agreement I am your agent, not your lawyer.” Although there are a lot of crossovers, Hess explained that it is vital to keep your duties separate. Agreeing with Hess, Grossman noted that because there is not a lot of loyalty with players, it is vital to build a good rapport and set up expectations earlier rather than later.
The biggest takeaway from this discussion topic was that when it comes to working with players or a company, you have to make sure they know exactly what you will be bringing to the table and actually accomplishing for them. Once this standard is set, you have to stick to that mark! Always remember, when it comes to keeping a client you have to first get the client; then, have value in that client; and finally, be honest early on about what you can or cannot accomplish for them. Whether you want to be a solo agent or work for a large firm, stick to these steps, and you will be well on your way.