Questions and Answers:
What was your favorite non-sports law class and/or professor at Tulane? And Why?
I enjoyed Professor Fontham’s Evidence class. He made what could have been a mundane class very interesting. I always looked forward to his lectures. Professor Friedman is also a favorite. He expected a lot from his students and pushed us to think and argue like lawyers.
What was your favorite thing to do in New Orleans?
I loved living in New Orleans and try to get back at least once a year. During law school, I enjoyed heading down to the Quarter, grabbing lunch at The Gumbo Shop, and just walking around. I definitely took advantage of all the great food the city had to offer.
What's your fondest law school memory?
Meeting my future wife on the first day of law school.
Why did you choose Tulane?
Before heading to law school, I knew I wanted a career that combined my passion for sports with the practice of law. Tulane’s Sports Law Certificate program was very well-known and I wanted to participate in the program. It provided a broad curriculum that covered many areas of the law that affect the sports industry.
What are the ways in which Tulane helped to prepare you for your career? Which courses and professors were the most important for you?
Law school teaches you how to spot issues and analyze them in a certain way. Tulane helped prepare me to think like a lawyer when I hit the “real world.” The course that was most impactful to me was Professor Lunney’s IP class. In taking that class I realized I wanted to practice trademark law and get involved with licensing in the sports industry.
What made you want to work in sports law?
I have been a life-long sports fan and decided at a relatively early age that I wanted a career in the sports industry. I was also interested in practicing law and believed that it would be a good basis for a career in sports. Initially, I wanted to be a sports agent; however, I later determined that being an agent was not for me. As I made my way through law school, I found that sports trademark licensing was a great way to combine all of my interests.
Describe your career path.
As I started law school, I very much wanted to be a sports agent. I worked for one agent in New Orleans the summer after my first year at Tulane and another in Chicago after my second year. While I enjoyed the experiences, I also learned that I was not meant to be a sports agent. However, during that second summer, I worked on an athlete endorsement deal. The transactional nature of the work interested me and I caught on to trademark licensing. After my internship ended that summer, I returned home to New York before my third year began and set up informational interviews with attorneys at MLB Properties, NFL Properties, and NHL Enterprises. After those meetings, I knew I wanted to get involved with sports trademark licensing.
Upon graduation from law school, and for the next six years, I worked at two law firms in Atlanta, with a focus on commercial litigation. I realized the importance of networking to create opportunities and met with many attorneys in Atlanta who focused on IP work. I also met regularly with two attorneys at CLC, who are now my colleagues. When an opportunity at CLC presented itself, they already knew me and knew of my strong interest in the position. I am now in my eighth year at CLC and enjoying the work immensely.
What is your role within the Collegiate Licensing Company?
Brand protection is the foundation of our partner institutions’ licensing programs, and CLC devotes significant resources to this important element for effectively managing these programs. My primary role is to oversee our trademark enforcement efforts. I address a number of infringement and counterfeiting matters on behalf of our partner institutions and also resolve contract breaches with licensees. I also work closely with NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB on enforcement matters that are common to us. A good part of my day is spent advising clients, both internal at CLC and the institutions as well, on trademark related issues. I also negotiate license agreements.
How would you compare your work as in-house counsel to working at a law firm?
I do think there is a different dynamic when you work in-house, as opposed to a law firm. At a firm, you are one of several (or many) lawyers. When you work in-house, at least in my case, you are one of a few lawyers working amongst many non-lawyers. The specialized nature of our job becomes a lot more apparent. I also appreciate being involved with a business and having the opportunity to focus on both business and legal issues. To be honest, I also do not miss having to keep track of and bill time.
What is the best part of your job?
There are a lot of great people at IMG College/CLC, with diverse backgrounds and interests, and I really enjoy working with them. CLC represents more than 200 collegiate properties and working with our partner institutions on a daily basis is also a highlight. When I have the opportunity, I love getting back on college campuses. There is always a great buzz at the campuses I visit, especially when there is a game coming up. As an avid sports fan, I also enjoy attending big events such as the BCS National Championship and Final Four.
If you could give one piece of career advice to current students, what would it be?
Find a practice area you are passionate about, set a goal to find a job that feeds that passion, and develop a strategy to get that job. A lot of this comes down to networking and creating your own opportunities. It may take some time and may not be an easy process, but stay persistent (but don’t go overboard) and be determined to achieve your goal.