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Sports Law Concentration: What It Is & What to Expect

Published January 8, 2019

“There‘s never been a formal pathway for someone to enter sports law,” said Helen “Nellie” Drew in an interview with Buffalo Law Journal.

In the past, lawyers seemed to simply ‘fall into’ the profession while handling tangentially related cases. However, the global growth of the sports & entertainment industry means more direct interest in (and need for) a sports law specialization.

What’s a sports law concentration and why do you need it?

Choosing a sports law concentration means you hit the ground running. While you’re probably not going to practice sports law straight out of law school (most lawyers need a few more years to master their craft and make connections), you’ll get a much-needed jump start in the industry.

Sports law concentrations are still a new concept, so offerings will vary from law school to law school. At UB, students get hands-on sports law experience through:

Students also take sports-specific law courses on topics such as:

  • Drug testing in professional sports
  • NCAA regulations
  • Title IX and gender equity in athletics
  • Professional contract negotiation and arbitration

Aside from these required courses, students choose two electives in non-industry-specific concentrations to back their sports law courses. These can include employment law, copyright law, immigration law, tax law and more.

With this concentration, you’re laying a great foundation for a career as a sports lawyer.

Why do I need to take non-sports law courses?

“Sports law” is a term that encompasses any legal matter in the context of amateur and professional sports. There’s no limit to the types of legal affairs you could see. That means you need to have a strong understanding of multiple areas of the law.

Sports law commonly slides into areas such as:

  1. Criminal matters
  2. Contract disputes
  3. Estate planning
  4. Intellectual property
  5. Facility construction
  6. NCAA compliance
  7. Title IX
  8. Employment
  9. Arbitration
  10. Drug testing
  11. Discipline of professional athletes
  12. Diversity & inclusion

In short, as a sports lawyer you need to be agile and prepared for anything - just like your clients!

For more information on practicing sports law or our sports law program, feel free to contact our sports law professor, Helen “Nellie” Drew. Professor Drew has worked closely with multiple NHL teams to resolve legal disputes (including for our very own Sabres!).

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Guest blogger Ashley Wilson-Rew is Content Strategist & SEM at protocol 80, Inc.


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