Sports and Entertainment Law panel features attorneys representing professional and collegiate athletic associations

On November 5, five attorneys spoke with Elon Law students about the practice of sports and entertainment law and the skills needed to excel in the area. Participants included Charles Blackmon of Tuggle Duggins, Nichelle N. Levy and Stokely G. Caldwell, Jr., of Robinson Bradshaw, Coe Ramsey of Brooks Pierce, and Erik Albright of Smith Moore Leatherwood.

Sports and entertainment law attorneys, from left, Coe Ramsey, Nichelle N. Levy, and Stokely G. Caldwell, Jr., with Kathy Stewart, Will McNamara, and Danielle Miller, the Vice President of Entertainment, Vice President of Sports, and President of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society respectively, and sports and entertainment law attorneys Charles Blackmon and Erik Albright.

The Sports and Entertainment Law Society joined with the Office of Career Services at Elon Law in sponsoring the event.

Each attorney discussed the many areas of law involved in representing clients in sports and entertainment industries, including contracts, torts, intellectual property, business and corporate law, litigation, copyright and trademark. Panel participants also spoke of some of the big name clients that they represent or are involved with, such as motorsports drivers and teams, major college athletic conferences, and professional sports leagues.

Levy, whose current practice includes corporate and commercial law, intellectual property law, and sports and entertainment law, served as a legal intern with the National Hockey League while in law school at New York University. She said her life long interest in sports and entertainment led her toward a legal career connected to those commercial sectors.

While sports and entertainment law is an exciting career, Caldwell emphasized the distinction between “having a passion and being a fan.” Clients don’t necessarily want someone to act as a fan, he said, but rather to serve as a competent lawyer doing exceptional legal work, regardless of the fame of the client.

Caldwell provides legal counsel to a variety of clients in motorsports, as well as representation for sports conferences, golfers, retired athletes, and major sponsorships in major league baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League.

Responding to student questions on how best to achieve a successful career in sports and entertainment law, Blackmon, a Certified Contract Advisor for the National Football Association, said there is “no magic wand” and that success is “built on relationships, on who you know and how you know them.”

Caldwell agreed that there is not a “magic answer” and that most people get into the practice area through “persistence, internships, involvement in a community activity, and volunteer opportunities.”

Albright said that representing the Atlantic Coast Conference opened doors for him, together with a mix of hard work, professionalism, and the development of a reputation for consistent quality legal work.

“Some of it is hustle, some of its becoming a good attorney, some of it is the relationships you start to build and the doors that sometimes open, and reputation,” Albright said.

Ramsey, who represents radio and television stations on music licensing matters, with clients including bands, musicians, singers, songwriters, record companies, music producers, re-mixers, disc jockeys and other artists, said that his passion for music, the arts, and the entertainment industry got him where he is today and that passion also helped with client development.

By Kathy Stewart L’12