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Becoming a Sports Lawyer, Not Jerry Maguire

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Everybody knows Jerry Maguire was not a real sports agent, but they also know his most famous line: "Show me the money!"

Leigh Steinberg is a real sports agent and lawyer, and he is oft credited as the inspiration for the Hollywood version. Even so, many aspiring sports attorneys think that it is all about the money.

Darren Heitner, author of a new book on becoming a sports lawyer, says it's about way more than that. He says it's about knowing how to play the game.

Play the Game

In "How to Play the Game," Heitner shares his experience as a sports agent and attorney. He offers case studies and insights from his own practice and passion for sports.

The book is meant for lawyers who want to become sports attorneys. He writes about many facets of the practice area, from college to professional sports.

In an interview with the Modern Law Library, Heitner says sports law is really a combination of various practice areas. It includes contracts, intellectual property, litigation, arbitration, and criminal law.

He says aspiring sports lawyers should take their expertise and transport it to sports law. Then it's about making connections with athletes, agents, managers, and others in the sports world.

Not the Movie

Unlike some, Heitner said he was not inspired by Jerry Maguire to get into sports law. Heitner knew in high school that he wanted to do something with his love of sports and his experience as a debater.

He said few schools have programs in sports law, so he suggested looking to the law itself. For example, he said, players' associations typically govern disputes between players, agents, and teams.

Sports lawyers really need to understand those arbitration and grievance procedures.

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