Are Sports Agents Lawyers?

sports agent salary

While many sports agents do have a law degree, it is not typically a requirement for the position.  Becoming a sports agent does not require any type of specialized degree or higher education, but some leagues may require certification if you wish to become a certified sports agent.  We’ll discuss the role of a sports agent and highlight some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of having a sports law degree.

Sports Agents vs. Sports Lawyers

While both sports agents and sports lawyers serve athletes, their job functions are very different.  We explain both roles below.

A sports agent represents the interest of an athlete.  They may advise on matters related to:

  • Contract Negotiations
  • Endorsements and Sponsorships
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Financial Planning
  • Career Guidance

Sports agents take care of their clients.  They might assist with booking hotels or setting up a podcast interview.  While sports agents can assist with contract negotiations, it isn’t the main focus of the position.

A sports lawyer is an attorney who specializes in sports law.  They handle a variety of legal matters that arise in the context of sports including ensuring compliance with regulations and protecting the rights of their clients.  Other roles and responsibilities include:

  • Contract Negotiations
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Player Representation
  • Risk Management
  • Compliance and Ethics

Sports attorneys can work in traditional law firms or they may also work as freelance lawyers.  They can work with sports leagues, teams, or an individual professional athlete.

How do I become a sports agent?

To become a sports agent, you will need to apply to a sports agency or form your own company. Many sports agents are self-employed and receive a commission based on the amount the athlete receives in his or her contract. If you wish to take the law school route to become a sports agent, you could also work at a law firm that specializes in sports.

What are my certification options?

Most professional sports agencies have a certification program for their sports agents.  These certification programs have their own set of requirements.  The MLB agent requirements, for example, include paying a $2,500 application fee and passing a written exam.  The NBA agents certification process requires proof of a four-year degree and a passing score on the NBA agent exam.

How could a law degree boost a sports agent’s career?

The advantage of having a law degree, if you have taken and passed a state bar exam, is that you can give legal advice.  Professional athletes often request legal advice regarding contracts they are required to sign. On the other hand, if you desire to obtain a higher education, other types of degrees may be a better fit.  A master’s degree in communication or management can make you a strong agent and may require fewer years of education. Part of a sports agent’s job is to negotiate contracts, and a background in law can give the agent some familiarity with the terms of a contract. A background in contract law can boost a sports agent’s credibility.  It can also save the athlete the expense of hiring both an attorney to examine the terms of the contract and an agent to promote their career. Many sports agents are also attorneys or have law degrees.

What are some of the disadvantages of obtaining a law degree, if I want to become a sports agent?

Obtaining a law degree can be a costly endeavor, requiring on average about three years of schooling. Sports lawyers must also pass a background check and complete continuing legal education credits to maintain their credentials.  Law school will teach you many aspects of the law that are not relevant or necessary to becoming a sports agent. Recruiters for job opportunities may wonder why you have a law degree if you do not intend to practice law or obtain a job at a law firm, which can be a disadvantage for some job opportunities. There are not many scholarships or grants available to law students, whereas, you may be able to attend graduate school for little or no cost if you can obtain an assistantship or grant.

Like most other careers, drive, passion, interest, and connections are more important for long-term success and advancement than which education path you chose. A degree in sports management and an internship with a sports agency can help you develop some of the professional connections needed to advance your career. Before deciding to go to law school, you should weigh the amount of debt you will need to accumulate with your career plans.

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