Updated: Aug 29, 2022
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! Although this was originally intended to be a monthly series, we will be putting these spotlights on a more frequent basis due to the popular demand by both prospective law students and law schools themselves. 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 Sports Law Program Spotlight is… University of Florida Levin College of Law.
When it comes to athletics, there are very few schools who can match the success of the Florida Gators. With 42 total national championships and 21 since the 2008-2009 academic year, it’s obvious that sports are a big deal in Gainesville. However, the University has high academic prestige as well and its Levin College of Law stands as one of the best law schools in the nation. Ranked 21st overall and 6th among public institutions by US News & World, there’s no wonder why the interest among prospective law students is extremely high. But to learn more about the intersection between sports and the law at Levin, I was honored to speak with Hunter Bedard, a 2L and fellow Conduct Detrimental contributor. Here is an overview of what the school offers to students with passion and interest in the field of sports law.
Not all law schools have a formal sports law program, and Florida’s Levin College of law falls into that category. However, that doesn’t mean that prospective law students interested in sports shouldn’t consider the school. In fact, Hunter originally was averse to attending Levin because it didn’t have a formal program. But throughout the application process, he found that there were valuable opportunities within the school to develop as a future sports lawyer. The two biggest offerings that should interest sports minded applicants are the Florida Entertainment and Sports Law Review and the Entertainment and Sports Law Society.
Florida Entertainment and Sports Law Review (FESLR)
In the Levin College of Law, there were previously only four law journals offered to students. However, a fifth journal was recently added, much to the liking of those interested in sports law. The Florida Entertainment and Sports Law Review (FESLR) is a student-run, legal journal focused on the practical application of the law in the sports and entertainment industries. The journal is structured where professors and practitioners with expertise in the field write articles while students like Hunter act as staff editors. This gives law students firsthand experience to scholarship and preeminent legal writing pertaining to sports law. As one of the 17 inaugural staff editors of the new FESLR, Hunter and his peers essentially act as gatekeepers when it comes to editing the work that is published for the review.
Entertainment and Sports Law Society (EASLS)
While FESLR is just getting started, the Entertainment and Sports Law Society at the Levin College of Law has been around for a while. Founded by prominent sports attorney, Darren Heitner, EASLS was established for the purpose of educating students of legal opportunities in the entertainment and sports business world, informing students about current issues in entertainment and sports law, and networking with other similar law schools and professional organizations across the nation. Hoping to follow in Heitner’s footsteps, Hunter serves as the current president of the society. The biggest event put on by EASLS is the annual Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium, where a collection of experienced professionals from the field of sports law come to Gainesville to share insights and advice. Overall, EASLS brings like-minded law students together to discuss and learn about the dynamic issues involved with the intersection between sports and the law.
In summary, the University of Florida Levin College of Law offers a great experience for prospective law students interested in sports law. The overall educational experience prepares students for a career in sports. In terms of curriculum, the school does offer a “roadmap” of suggested courses to take for students interested in entertainment and sports law. The roadmap consists of courses that easily could overlap with the sports world like IP, antitrust, transactions, negotiation, etc. There is even a course dedicated to sports law issues and a sports law seminar as well. To be successful, every lawyer needs a well-rounded educational experience that can be applied to any area of law. The newly added Florida Entertainment and Sports Law Review to go along with the Florida Entertainment and Sports Law Society provide ample opportunities to get involved. So, while at the moment there might not be an offering of a sports centered curriculum model or sports law certificate, the Levin College of Law still is a great place for future sports lawyers to learn. Just ask Darren Heitner, he seems to be doing well :)