Saturday, 20 April 2013

"Pros or Cons" Thoughts For the Modern "Sports Attorney" - Part I

Sports Law Blog will be publishing a 5-part series on the practice of sports law.  The series is co-authored by Peter Jarvis, a legal ethics and professional responsibility attorney with Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP in Portland, Oregon and Jason Davis, a California attorney currently residing in Seattle, Washington.  These posts will appear on Saturdays.  Here is the first one:


"Pros or Cons" Thoughts For The Modern "Sports Attorney"
Authored by Jason A. Davis, Esq. and Peter R. Jarvis, Esq. (all rights reserved)

Being a "sports attorney," in today's national professional sports scene can be a precarious balance of seeking the best advantage for your client, while ensuring that you maintain your sworn obligations as a licensed attorney. All attorneys owe ethical obligations, which are enforced by the state bar association(s) or the judicial system(s) in jurisdictions in which the attorney is licensed. In addition, some governmental agencies have their own rules and many civil and criminal statutes apply to lawyers. Just as in any sport, the most spectacular play can be overturned and players sanctioned or sent off the field if there was an infraction of the rules.

In the following series of articles, constituting four additional installments, we would like to highlight specific areas of concern that an attorney who serves a professional athlete/entertainer on a national scale may encounter. We hope to start the conversation that will lead to an enlightened approach of balancing responsibilities owed to the profession and the client.

To set the playing field, consider the following hypothetical:

Mega Star currently resides in New York and plays professional football for the Big Bruisers, and he has a long-standing relationship with Attorney Al, who is licensed in both New Jersey and New York. Mega's contract with the Big Bruisers is set to expire at the end of the season. With the end of Mega's career in the foreseeable future, he wants his next (and possibly the final) contract signing to be as lucrative as possible. Two other teams are trying to sign Mega for next season. One team is located in California, and the other in Texas. Mega also wants to start a motivational speaking business -- on the side for now but as a full-time endeavor after his professional career ends.

Mega asks Al to (1) negotiate possible contracts with (a) the California team, (b) the Texas team, (2) analyze possible state and federal tax implications of each. In addition, Mega wants Al to (3) organize a motivational speaking business and file the articles of incorporation in Delaware, and (4) review and advise him on a real estate purchase for a vacation home in Florida.

Over the next four installments, we will cover the common ethical obligations as it pertains to an attorney who practices on a national level. More specifically, we will cover questions concerning which jurisdiction's ethical rules may or do apply and the unauthorized practice of law.

Tune in next time to see how Al could/should ethically respond to Mega's requests.

--Jason A. Davis & Peter R. Jarvis

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