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Well said, Uriel.  And yes; aiming for the likes of Bettman, etc. might be ambitious although we could always follow the trajectory of Alex Anthopoulos and go from handling fan mail to becoming GM ;)  Of couse, what are the odds?!  On a more serious note, are there any other courses that you would suggest that we take aside from contracts, labour law, and employment law?

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Well, figure out who you want to work for: players, individuals, leagues, non-profits, regulatory bodies, government, etc.  Then dive into what their needs will be with regard to their industry's legal framework.  Carrying on with the team example, you'll want some labour and employment, contracts, maybe immigration and private international law for cross-border transactions (trades/drafts from America, Finland, Russia, etc.), dealmaking/negotiation/art of the deal, tax, business organizations, corporate governance, IP, entertainment and sports law.

 

Basically, what you're talking about in terms of working for management is that you would be counsel to a corporation in a regulated industry where the primary business assets are labour, intellectual property and arguably real estate.  The fact that the employees play sports is largely incidental to the skill set you'll need to develop. 

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Well, figure out who you want to work for: players, individuals, leagues, non-profits, regulatory bodies, government, etc.  Then dive into what their needs will be with regard to their industry's legal framework.  Carrying on with the team example, you'll want some labour and employment, contracts, maybe immigration and private international law for cross-border transactions (trades/drafts from America, Finland, Russia, etc.), dealmaking/negotiation/art of the deal, tax, business organizations, corporate governance, IP, entertainment and sports law.

 

Basically, what you're talking about in terms of working for management is that you would be counsel to a corporation in a regulated industry where the primary business assets are labour, intellectual property and arguably real estate.  The fact that the employees play sports is largely incidental to the skill set you'll need to develop. 

 

This is actually a pretty similar thought process to what you need to do for any legal career. Uriel is really smart.

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I think Uriel has beat me to the punch.  His/her list of courses is very comprehensive.  At the bare minimum, I would suggest labour and employment and corporate/business/whatever your school calls it (as you will be taking contracts anyway).  I would also affirm his point that you shouldn't pick a school based on a supposed expertise in sports law.  Usually this means one person and they may be on sabbatical while you are there.  For example, I think Western, which you mentioned, has a fairly well known sports lawyer, but I think it is just him and he only teaches one class in this area.  Even if you go to a school that doesn't have a sports or entertainment law course you can always write a sports law paper in an IP class or an advanced labour class or whatever.  You can also do an independent research paper of some sort at most schools and you might be able to find someone who, while not a sports law prof, is a prof in a related area that might be able to help.

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I would also note that you can't count on getting into sports law.  There are only so many teams/leagues/etc.  It is difficult to get hired on at the particular firm that does the work for a particular team and then get involved in those files.  You might end up working in corporate law generally and never be able to break into that group working on the sports files.  If you are interested in corporate work in general, then that's not a problem, but you don't want to end up disappointed if you can't get on the work for the sports team.  Also, a lot of sports law isn't sports law per se.  To paraphrase what Uriel says above, the fact that the employees/trademarks/contracts/etc. happen to relate to a sport is incidental.  If the only thing that you like about working on a licensing agreement is that it happens to relate to the use of the Leaf's logo, you will get bored with the work quickly.  All of this is not to discourage you...you should definitely do everything you can to set yourself up to succeed (i.e. take the right courses, suck up to the right people at the firm), but just make sure that you have a Plan B.

Edited by ProfReader

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Awesome advice, ProfReader!  Really appreciate it.  I am actually more interested in CBA issues and player contracts, etc.  And yes; I definitely will have a contingency plan in place in the event that I cannot break into sports law.  After all, there are only 30 MLB teams, 30 NHL teams, and 30 NBA Teams as you noted.

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there are only 30 MLB teams, 30 NHL teams, and 30 NBA Teams as you noted.

 

Are you considering applying to US schools as well?  It is certainly beyond the scope of my expertise and I'm sure is discussed elsewhere on the site, but it isn't easy to transfer from one country to the other (in particular from the US to Canada).  I just wanted to give you the heads up to look into that issue further before you spend too much time looking into the US schools route.  If you are interested in the collective bargaining stuff, that is very interesting work regardless of whether you end up breaking into the sports industry, so I'm sure you will end up doing something you enjoy.

Edited by ProfReader

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Not at the moment, ProfReader.  I could conceivably go for an LL.M. in the U.S. sometime down the road but I ought to think that I would be doing my JD here in Canada.  I would presume that a Canadian law degree would allow me to work on CBA and/or player issues in MLB, NHL, and NBA since there are Canadian franchises in these three leagues (granted only 1 in MLB, 7 in NHL and 1 in the NBA with the common denominator being Toronto) although Gary Bettman (NYU) and Donald Fehr (University of Missouri-Kansas City) both got their law degrees from U.S. law schools so I could be wrong...  Either way, I do enjoy CBA-related work as you observed.

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There's about 5 partners in Canada who do much law related to sports. And a few associates who help them. If you want to get into the area, you probably have to work at Proskauer Rose in New York.

 

If you're really determined, research those firms which have those few partners, and apply there. Although it you tell them during your interviews that you would like to do sports law, they will probably laugh.

 

In addition to the labour and contracts courses, for anything related to sports I would also add competition law.

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Hey Prof, do you have any insight on pursuing a LL.M.?

 

I'm a Crown Prosecutor several years out of school.  I see that my local law school does offer a part-time LLM program, and I'm somewhat intrigued.

 

But honestly I never got to know any LLM students while I got my LLB.  What are masters-level courses like?  What kind of material is learned and what kind of time commitment is involved?  Finally (and this might be tough tfor you to answer) any thoughts on how useful a crim-focused LLB would be in practice?

 

Sorry for a somewhat vague question.  Any response appreciated.

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Gary Bettman (NYU) and Donald Fehr (University of Missouri-Kansas City) both got their law degrees from U.S. law schools so I could be wrong...  Either way, I do enjoy CBA-related work as you observed.

I had to google who those people were.  You are right, they both went to US law schools.  However, they don't seem to be practicing law anymore, but rather hold executive positions within their organizations.  The advice that we've given you here relates to practicing law (within a law firm in Canada that practices sports law)...I would assume there are additional factors beyond our knowledge on this site to make the jump from legal practice to become an executive, as the individuals you named seemed to do.  I don't want to burst your bubble and definitely encourage you to pursue your dreams.  However, as the various comments on this site indicate, it is really a long shot to even get involved in sports law at a firm (let alone be appointed to one of the positions you've mentioned), so I also want you to be realistic about the prospects of ending up doing this sort of work.  As I said before, I think if you take the types of courses Uriel mentioned above, you will find something that interests you even if the sports law thing doesn't pan out.   

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MP,

 

If you are referring to the professional LLM at Osgoode, I don't know a ton about that.  From what I've heard, it tends to be taught by a mix of faculty and some senior practitioners.  I've heard good things from one or two people that did it (although they were in areas other than criminal law).  I don't think they found it tremendously useful in practice, but I think some of them were a bit tired of the drudgery of work and missed learning new things, and so it was enjoyable in that way.

 

If you are referring to a regular LLM done on a part-time basis, the course don't tend to be LLM specific, but rather you take JD seminars and often one course with your fellow LLM students (because there aren't enough LLMs to have a significant number of course offerings specifically for those students).  For example, in my seminar classes I sometimes I have LLM students along with my JDs.  When I took my LLM, which was a thesis-based program, I did one course with the other LLM students (different schools approach this course differently, but it is often some sort of legal theory course), a couple of seminar classes with JD students, and then I did a thesis.   Again, my friends who have done a part-time LLM (either having commenced one while working or were finishing one off when they started working) have said that it wasn't tremendously useful in practice but that they enjoyed the intellectual stimulation.  I have a couple of friends who work for the federal government (as prosecutors).  They have some sort of educational leave policy where you can take a year off and they used it to do an LLM in Europe or New York and they enjoyed that (although probably more because of their geographic location than the academic work). 

 

The material/time commitment might be a bit different for the professional LLM program, but if it is just a regular part-time program at a law school, the material/time commitment would be very similar to what you encountered during your JD (although, of course, the time committment would be spread over a longer period of time and you would likely be able to write a paper more quickly now as you have some expertise in the area and are more proficient at research/writing). 

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MP,

 

If you are referring to the professional LLM at Osgoode, I don't know a ton about that.  From what I've heard, it tends to be taught by a mix of faculty and some senior practitioners.  I've heard good things from one or two people that did it (although they were in areas other than criminal law).  I don't think they found it tremendously useful in practice, but I think some of them were a bit tired of the drudgery of work and missed learning new things, and so it was enjoyable in that way.

 

If you are referring to a regular LLM done on a part-time basis, the course don't tend to be LLM specific, but rather you take JD seminars and often one course with your fellow LLM students (because there aren't enough LLMs to have a significant number of course offerings specifically for those students).  For example, in my seminar classes I sometimes I have LLM students along with my JDs.  When I took my LLM, which was a thesis-based program, I did one course with the other LLM students (different schools approach this course differently, but it is often some sort of legal theory course), a couple of seminar classes with JD students, and then I did a thesis.   Again, my friends who have done a part-time LLM (either having commenced one while working or were finishing one off when they started working) have said that it wasn't tremendously useful in practice but that they enjoyed the intellectual stimulation.  I have a couple of friends who work for the federal government (as prosecutors).  They have some sort of educational leave policy where you can take a year off and they used it to do an LLM in Europe or New York and they enjoyed that (although probably more because of their geographic location than the academic work). 

 

The material/time commitment might be a bit different for the professional LLM program, but if it is just a regular part-time program at a law school, the material/time commitment would be very similar to what you encountered during your JD (although, of course, the time committment would be spread over a longer period of time and you would likely be able to write a paper more quickly now as you have some expertise in the area and are more proficient at research/writing). 

 

I don't have a damn dirty JD!

 

Thanks for the insight - would be looking at a in-class, part-time LLM.

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I'm not sure how much insight you can provide on the field of ADR, specifically arbitration since it is such a narrow field - but what would be your advice in terms of what courses to take?

 

I'm a 0L and will be attending school starting Sept. I'm aware of how difficult it is to break into, and how experience-based the field is. I think courses in areas such as negotiation, arbitration/mediation, rewards and advocacy will all be relevant. But are there other courses, or perhaps career paths, you would recommend? If the school offers a clinic in the field I would of course take that as well.

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Could you clarify what it is you're seeking with regard to arbitration?  Appearing before an arbitral panel, appearing before administrative tribunals, or becoming an arbitrator?

 

Just as a quick response, although ADR courses may be useful, careers in ADR overlap with careers in litigation.  If your clients have an ADR clause in their contract then you're just litigating there instead of in court.  It's not necessarily a different process, and the courtroom stars are the same people that take the lead in med/arb.  We don't staff ADR any differently than we staff litigation.

 

As for becoming an arbitrator --- which is an amazing job --- I don't believe there is a particular stream that you can follow to get yourself in line for such a position.  An arbitrator has to essentially act as a judge, and her job is to write a reasonable, comprehensive decision that will be appeal-proof.  Litigation is the best training for that; you learn everything you need to know about evidence, witnesses, procedure, etc.  There are, of course, courses involved in becoming a chartered arbitrator, but typically when our clients are looking at selecting an arbitrator we're talking about retired judges or highly, highly respected counsel that could be appointed to the bench in a heartbeat if they so desired. 

 

Your most sought-after arbitrators either served on an appellate court before retirement or have firms named after them.  Unfortunately, unlike administrative tribunals, you can't focus on ADR and become a panel member after a few years of good work.  (Although, I suppose it might be possible on a much smaller scale.  The difficulty is that arbitration is very expensive, and so if you're shelling out the money you tend to want a good arbitrator.  If you're short on cash, you're probably just going to go to court, which is free.) 

 

An arbitrator is a substitute judge, and she typically needs the reputation and authority to have earned that distinction.  Your Teplitskys, your Majors, your Mews, Cherniaks and Slaghts are all seasoned litigators that have lived and breathed dispute resolution for decades.  You might be able to get in after ten or fifteen years of great work and reputation, but remember that ultimately counsel on both sides have to agree that they will respect your legal opinion.  There isn't necessarily a course for that. 

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Uriel has beat me to the punch with good advice.  Actually becoming an arbitrator is quite difficult and you would want to take courses that relate to litigation and to pursue that career path.  An additional piece of course selection advice is that certain types of contracts seem to go into arbitration fairly frequently, such as collective agreements, so taking a labour course may be useful.  That being said, even if it is tough to actually become an arbitrator, that shouldn't stop you from taking ADR courses in law school...if that is what interests you, that is what you are likely to do well in (usually).  If you are interested in ADR more broadly, it is certainly easier to become a mediator than an arbitrator.  If that is something you are interested in, you might consider taking family law.  

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Thanks Uriel/ProfReader for the responses. Sorry for not expanding, but yes, I believe being an arbitrator would be very rewarding, interesting work - of course, I know it's largely reputation based, but I guess I was wondering what the 'most direct' path would be. What path should I take with regards to litigation? Certain type of work, ie crim? I know about the fact that much of the work relates to labor contracts and I'll take those courses though I'll likely find them boring - but family law is definitely not for me.

Edited by Lamps8

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Crim is definitely not the way to go to get into arbitration.  As Uriel indicated above, any contract can contain an arbitration clase.  Along with the ADR courses you suggested and the labour course I mentioned, corporate law courses will certainly be useful as will any sort of courses relating to litigation (i.e. civil trial practice or whatever your school calls it, a moot, etc.).

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Thank-you ProfReader. All of your posts have been great, but I found your post to Got2B referencing HIMYM especially useful. This thread is a great example of why this forum is invaluable for us law nerds. :D

 

Have you any more tips like that for 1L students? More specifically, what are some common mistakes you see 1L students make (whether in their attitude in class, what they take away from their readings, mistakes made on exams/assignments, etc.)?

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