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 Georgia School of Law
Currently home to the top ranked football team in the nation, it’s a great time to be on campus at the University of Georgia. Located in Athens, you’ll be welcomed with “Southern Hospitality” if you ever visit one of the more charming college towns in America. In addition, the University carries high academic prestige and the UGA School of Law ranks as one of the best law schools in the South by US News & World. But to learn more about the intersection between sports and the law at UGA, I reached out to Jake Gordon, a current student. Here is an overview of what the University of Georgia School of Law offers to students with passion and interest in the field of sports law.
If you’re a prospective student interested in the field of sports law, the curriculum and degree offerings at UGA Law might be for you. To start off, there is a dedicated course to sports law taught by John Cooper, who is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for IMG. The course offers a lot of out-of-class experiences, such as adjunct classes with Deputy General Counsel Jonathan Smith of the Atlanta Braves and Scott Wilkinson, Chief Legal Officer for the Atlanta Hawks. Special guests including Greg Heller, the Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President of the Braves and Brandon James, the Deputy General Counsel for the San Antonio Spurs have all spoken to the course of late. In addition, multiple intellectual property classes weave sport law into the curriculum.
If you’re deciding between getting a JD or a Master’s in Sports Management, UGA offers a dual JD/Masters in Sport Management Degree available through the Law School, as well as other Master’s Sport Law Classes that can satisfy a JD without getting a Master’s Degree. This dual degree gives the theoretical and practical background to pursue career opportunities as a lawyer concentrating on sports issues.
Most UGA Law students interested in sports are involved in the Sport and Entertainment Law Society. The society is a student-run organization with a mission to create opportunities for UGA Law students who may be interested in pursuing a career in the sports and entertainment law industries. It strives to expose students to the unique and illustrious industries via conferences, round-table discussions, and various networking events. The Negotiation Team participates in multiple mock Sport Contract Negotiations across the country.
Many students showcase their sports law knowledge in law journals offered by UGA Law. A lot of students, Jake included, use the Journal of Intellectual Property to write about issues in Sport Law. Jake recently wrote about Federal NIL Legislation for College and High School Athletes.
Most importantly, UGA Law works hard to put their students in the best position to achieve their career goals. Academic Advisors set up meetings with alumni who have had amazing careers in Sport Law. Jake’s advisor recently put him in touch with the aforementioned Brandon James and NFL Agent Trevon Smith. In addition, for those interested in working in college athletics. UGA has a corporate counsel externship that allows students to get practical work experience with the UGA Athletic Department.
In summary, the University of Georgia School of Law offers a great experience for prospective law students interested in sports law. About a 90-minute drive from Atlanta, one of the best sports cities in the country, the opportunity is there to make great connections with professionals in the sports law community. The combination of the curriculum, degree offerings, professors, guest speakers, advisors, and internship/externship opportunities provide everything a prospective sports law student could ask for. Future sports lawyers should definitely add UGA to their list of schools.
Big Thanks to Jake Gordon for the great information about UGA Law. You can follow him at @cantguardjake on Twitter and check out his work at @SportsTalkATL if you’re an Atlanta sports fan!