Entertainment, Sports & Leisure Law


Key Takeaways:

  • Sports lawyers are different than agents because lawyers can practice law.
  • Sports lawyers can help draft and negotiate contracts to maximize profits for athletes.
  • If a team or sponsor tries to get out of an agreement, a sports lawyer can take them to court to enforce the contract.

Lots of young sports fans dream of being able to play the game they love for a living. However, for some student-athletes, the reality may be approaching faster than they expect. It can be easy to be swept up by promises of agents and managers willing to take you to the next level for a cut of your money.

You should have a clear understanding of the limitations of a sports agent and when you may actually need a sports lawyer to handle agency contracts and legal disputes. Sports law can be different depending on state law. If you have questions about sports law, talk to a sports lawyer for legal advice.

What Is a Sports Lawyer?

A sports lawyer is an attorney who practices in the area of entertainment law, representing athletes, sports teams, sports leagues, and sports organizations. A sports lawyer can be involved in many legal areas, primarily in contract law, civil litigation, licensing, labor law, business law, and even tax planning.

How Is a Sports Lawyer Different From a Sports Agent?

Many sports agents are not lawyers. This means they can’t file lawsuits in state or federal court, represent you in legal disputes in court, or provide you with legal advice. A sports agent or manager can help negotiate deals, but when things go wrong, you may need a lawyer to represent your best interests.

A sports agent generally earns money based on a percentage of what you earn. For example, if a sports agent takes a 10% commission and you earn a $1 million contract, you will have to pay your agent $100,000.

Attorney fees can depend on the type of legal work. Attorneys can work on an hourly rate, flat rate, or contingency fee. Attorneys have an ethical duty to be upfront about legal costs and fees. If you have any questions about legal expenses, ask your attorney about their rates.

When Do Athletes Need a Sports Lawyer?

Most of the needs of professional athletes have to do with transactional work and litigation. Transactional legal work has to do with planning, preparing, and making sure clients are protected before signing contracts or agreements. Litigation involves resolving disputes in court to protect clients’ interests.

Some examples of when you can benefit from a sports attorney include:

  • Negotiating social media agreements, name, image, and likeness rights (NIL) agreements, and sponsorship and endorsement deals
  • Tax planning
  • Negotiating employment contracts
  • Negotiating real estate deals
  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements
  • Protecting your intellectual property rights

When litigation is necessary, it is usually because something went wrong. In the sports industry, most courtroom litigation involves breach of contract claims. After carefully negotiating contracts, a sponsor may try to break an endorsement contract, claiming there were changed circumstances.

Your attorney can represent you in court or in negotiations to hold the other party responsible for any breach of contract. This includes fighting for the compensation that you are entitled to.

Find a Sports Law Attorney

A lot can change in the sports world. High school athletes can be recruited across the country and offered big money to sign with a college athletic program. However, everything can change at a moment’s notice. This is where an experienced sports law attorney can help protect student-athletes and secure their futures.

At the same time, sports teams and college athletic programs may make promises based on your abilities. However, if you suffer a serious injury, the team may try to get out of its agreement with you. Your attorney can represent you to make sure you are protected even if you are injured and no longer able to play.

If you have questions about how a sports lawyer can help you and protect your rights in the future, talk to an experienced sports law attorney about your situation.

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