How You can Benefit from a Sports Attorney
What is a sports attorney? The simplest answer would be: “Jerry Maguire.” Although this is a fictional story, Tom Cruise’s character is indeed a lawyer for athletes. The movie does not make it entirely clear, but in order for Jerry Maguire to a manage to clients in the way that he does, it means that he is indeed a lawyer.
As a sports lawyer, it is Jerry’s job to make sure the athletes he represents are protected when they are off the field, but also has to make sure they stay on the field for his own job’s sake. He is their representative to team owners, other managers, and sponsors. Not only does he take care of their legal needs, he also manages his clients’ financials to ensure his clients are financially secure as well. Like the fictional character of Jerry Maguire, there are lawyers who work with athletes in much the same way Jerry does. Sports attorney firms, and their lawyers, work with athletes from the college level to the professional level, and across all types of sports to ensure that the athletes are able to play the sports they love fairly, safely, and within the rules and regulations of their governing body.
Why a College Athlete Might Need an Attorney
Most colleges and universities in the United States are members of the NCAA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA is an organization led by its members who are said to be dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes. In order to ensure that their athletes will experience this lifelong success, the NCAA has put in place rules and regulations that its athletes and member schools must follow.
In order to enforce these rules and regulations the NCAA has put in place the NCAA Infractions Enforcement Process. If an athlete or a school is found to have broken a rule or regulation, the NCAA uses their Infraction Enforcement Process to resolve the issue. When athletes or schools are accused of an infraction they often find, or go back to, an NCAA attorney. With the help of an attorney, the athlete or school will have much better success at limiting damage to their reputation and future career.
The work of an NCAA lawyer is done daily, but often goes unseen. If you are a college sports fan, you know all too well what it is like when you find out that one of your school’s star athletes is not in compliance with the NCAA bylaws. Sometimes the incident is resolved in a flash, but other times it is a long, drawn out process that can lead to the athlete leaving the school. To help their clients, sports attorneys use statutes, case president, and an in-depth understanding of the NCAA Bylaws. With this knowledge, the attorneys can either prove that their client did not break any rules or they can limit their client’s punishment.
Ways a Sports Attorney Can Help a Professional Athlete
Professional athletes are more than just athletes; often times they are also celebrities. With this status comes much more need for legal assistance. There are sponsorships, contracts, large salaries, and safety to be aware of as well. It is in all of these areas that a sports law attorney comes in handy. More often than not, an athlete’s attorney becomes much more than just their attorney. They become their bill payer, financial advisor, and all around counselor to make sure everything is working as it should be.
As in many fields of the law, sports law involves a lot of cleaning up of messes, but what makes sports law different is that there is the ability to prevent the mess from happening in the first place. Sports attorneys are not only their client’s legal advisor; they are in many cases also their client’s manager, agent, and close friend. With these titles an attorney has the ability to weigh in on their clients daily actions and partake in risk management. For every decision a professional athlete makes off the field, they most likely consulted with their attorney before doing so.
When an athlete is in the news for a poor decision they have made it is most likely because they ignored their lawyer’s advice or did not seek in the first place. At this point the athlete should be thankful they have a lawyer, because they are the only person who can clean up the mess. Although cleaning up messes is not entirely glamorous, it is what attorneys are best at.
Finding the Right Sports Law Firm
Before hiring any lawyer you should do your research to make sure that both the lawyer, and the law firm for which they work, is the right fit for you. When it comes to sports law, different attorneys tend to focus on different sports. In order to represent their clients, attorneys often have to also be a certified agent for whichever league their client is a member. This is the league’s way of ensuring that their athlete’s agents are well aware of their bylaws and other rules and regulations. This is also beneficial to the athletes because with certification may indicate to, the athletes’ what the sport law firm will know what their clients can and cannot do.
If their clients do get accused of a bylaw infraction, the attorneys will know how to argue in their clients’ favor. For example, NFL lawyers have to gain a certificate from the National Football league in order to represent a client who plays for the NFL. This certificate indicates that the lawyers know the ins and outs of the Bylaws of the National Football League. With this knowledge, the NFL attorneys will be able to make sure their clients are following the rules and regulations of the NFL. This saves the reputation of both the player and the NFL.
This measure towards risk management is also taken by Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).
Other Areas Handled by a Sports Lawyer
No matter what type of law a lawyer practices, there are going to be contracts involved. A contract is a legal document, and much of the work a lawyer does results in contracts. The same goes for sports attorneys. Be it a contract with a team, sponsor, or even the cable company. a sports contract lawyer helps their clients create contracts that are in the clients best interest. These contracts can be in the form of employment contracts with which the attorney will negotiate salary, bonuses, and compensation on behalf of their client.
Other contract negotiations may include those for sponsorship deals. Apart from forming and negotiation contracts lawyers for athletes do many other things. Attorneys may assist the athlete client, have found themselves in a dispute and need a lawyer to defend them in court either for a criminal or civil charge. Athletes also seek the counsel of attorneys to help managing their wealth. Attorneys with professional athlete clients often are the ones who receive and pay the athletes’ clients bills. This includes the cable, water, car, etc. bills that the average person may have. Attorneys take this on because by doing so they can monitor what their clients are spending money on and can help counsel them to make decisions that will help them maintain their wealth.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Sports Attorney?
Finding a sports attorney is not difficult, but, you need to make sure you are choosing the right one. Finding an attorney for sports reasons is usually easier than hiring a lawyer for other reasons such as wanting legal advice for real estate, business, or other legal issues that deal with state statutes. With sports, the same bylaws tend to apply across state lines. This means that you can be an athlete in Wyoming, and it will not matter that your attorney is based out of Florida. With that said though, many choose to find a local attorney because it makes for easier face to face meetings.
A lot of athletes choose to use the same attorney or law firm for matters that are not related to their sport which makes being in the same state a necessity. For example, if an athlete wants to start a business they will want the help of an attorney. If the attorney they use for their sports related matters is not located in the state they want to start the business, the out of state lawyer will not be very useful because there are a lot of state and local statutes related to business law. In central Florida, there are a few top sports law firms, but if you are looking for a premier sports attorney the law offices of Bret Jones, P.A. Attorneys and Counselors has what you need. Partner Bret Jones is an athlete himself and enjoys giving guidance to college and professional athletes alike.