Journal of Leadership and the Law

Leadership Lecture Series Spotlight: Jay Bilas

By Mia Chamberlain L'Dec.'17

Mr. Jay Bilas, Esq.
ESPN Analyst and Attorney
“I gotta go to work”

SOLD OUT. The third lecture of the Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series presented by the Joseph M. Bryan foundation featured Duke Law School graduate, ESPN Analyst, Author and Attorney, Jay Bilas. His tremendous energy filled the Elon Law Library as he engaged the audience with his intriguing path to great success.

When asked to describe leadership in one word. Bilas sat back, thought for a moment, then confidently said: “Empathy.” Recognizing empathy for others was a crucial element that Bilas embraced early in his career. Bilas went on to say there is an amazing component of good fortune involved in the success of anyone or any organization.

Bilas, a globally recognized icon, began as a scholar athlete at Duke University. He left his parents in California, and moved across the country to join the Duke Blue Devils. He was a proven leader early on in life, earning recognition in team leadership while at Duke. Following graduation, Bilas was an NBA draft pick and took his career overseas where he played in Italy and Spain. After four years, Bilas returned to his alma mater to attend Duke’s law school and to assist in coaching alongside Mike Krzyzewski. This led to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992. Bilas submitted tremendous gratitude for the leadership he was afforded through his years as a student, athlete, and assistant under Coach K. The skills he adopted from his coach/mentor would forever impact his life.

“Next Play” – a lesson learned from Coach K that Bilas applies to all aspects of his life. “Basketball is too quick to dwell on the last play. If you carry the last play into the next play, you’re going to make a mistake” said Bilas.  This applies to life as well.

Strong moral character and the ability to evoke a credible image were paramount to Bilas. Bilas highlighted how “luck” and “timing” have played a pivotal role in his career and success to date. He commemorates his wife for her support, and believes that he truly hasn’t worked a day since he started at ESPN. “It doesn’t feel like work when you are doing what you love” said Bilas.

Bilas has acquired countless accolades overtime including Emmy Awards, The Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Duke University Law School and awards from Sports Illustrated. Although Jay Bilas is recognized nationally for his work as an ESPN Analyst, he knows the importance and value of giving back through serving in volunteer efforts that promote education and medical advances.

Elon Law and the Greensboro community enjoyed an evening filled with intellectual engagement and the opportunity to gain insight into the life of a highly-respected law school graduate whose leadership style drives him to accomplish goals that serve the greater good. His genuine belief in luck and timing, his ability to influence others through sound logic, and his notable accolades brand him as a distinguished leader.