Sports law is an ever-evolving and expanding subset of the law, and as the recent NCAA v. Alston ruling, NIL, and Super League controversy have shown, there are far more legal roles in sports than the typical pro agent. From arbitration and player unions to compliance and contracts, a law degree can open the door to a wide range of opportunities at both the collegiate and professional level of athletics. Many law schools around the country recognize the potential of sports law and offer some opportunities in the field, while some boast full-fledged sports law programs and concentrations. However, unlike business law and health law, U.S. News & World doesn’t offer lists detailing sports law programs; this makes the law school search difficult for a prospective 1L with aspirations for a career in sports.
Enter the Sports Law Program Spotlight! In this monthly series, we will highlight a law school that offers strong opportunities in the field of sports law. These opportunities include, but are not limited to:
● a sports-centric curriculum;
● sports law certifications;
● unique legal internship opportunities within the sports market;
● and sports law journals.
The focus of this month’s Sports Law Program Spotlight is…
Marquette University Law School
Known nationally for their stellar basketball program, Marquette is a true Blue Blood of the sports law world. Directed by Professors Matt Mitten and Paul M. Anderson, MU Sports Law has pumped out a list of compliance directors and sports attorneys longer than a Milwaukee bar tab on Thirsty Thursdays. Among them are Mike Sneathern and Greg Heller, CLO for the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Braves, respectively; as of 2021, Mr. Sneathern has more NBA Championship rings than James Harden.
Law is a naturally adversarial profession, and law school generally prepares you for that. However, MU Sports Law gets your competitive juices flowing in the specific arena of sports arbitration. The Basketball Negotiation, Baseball Arbitration, Game Day Case Competition, Sports Law Negotiation, and Sports Law Moot Court teams allow MU Law students to compete nationally in a sports law setting. Iron sharpens iron, and when you’re arguing against the brightest future sports lawyers at other schools, you get a chance to hone your sports negotiation abilities against your peers. Caution: while it can get heated, leave the pushing and shoving on the court, not in court.
(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Affiliated with the neighboring National Sports Law Institute (NSLI), Marquette Law students have the opportunity to earn a certificate from the NSLI upon graduation after meeting a list of requirements. These requirements include completing both the Amateur/Professional Sports Law course offerings and a sports law workshop diving into one of many topics ranging from NCAA compliance and governance to representing professional athletes and coaches. In Fall of their 2L year, students participate in a writing competition to join the Marquette Sports Law Review, one of the premier sports law journals in the country and the nation’s first law review focused solely on sports scholarship. As many firms will tell you, a staff position on a law review is a major resumé booster in the legal job market.
Another major resumé booster is an internship, and at Marquette Law, supply outstrips demand. In Spring 2021 alone, sports law students interned with the athletic departments at Marquette, Eastern Michigan University, Fordham University, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Notre Dame College, Temple University, the University of Minnesota, the University of South Florida, the UW school system, the University of Wyoming, and Weber State University. Perhaps you don’t wish to work in a particular athletic department and want to oversee the broader national collegiate athletics landscape; Marquette Law students annually secure internships with the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis. If collegiate athletics don’t excite you, perhaps this will: Marquette Law has longstanding sports law internship programs with both the Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers, along with alumni connections in Major League Baseball’s New York offices. Students also secured internships with US Speedskating, as well as various sports agencies and firms. In short, Marquette produces internships in every corner of the sports law community.
So there you have it: Marquette University Sports Law is a bona fide Blue Blood in sports law circles. The program commands respect from professionals in the field and provides countless experiences to ensure the next generation of sports lawyers are brighter than the last. If you’re an undergrad interested in a legal career in sports, join hundreds of successful sports professionals and consider MU Law.