What Do Sports Lawyers Do?

The career prospects of a sports lawyer in the US are quite promising today, as the horizon of sports is growing. There are many sports leagues like NFL, NHL, MLB, etc. playing frequently with immense zeal, the demand for qualified sports lawyers is increasing. Every professional athlete needs the support of a sports attorney, given their profession isn’t all game and fun. 

Whether it is a sports contract, salary negotiations or anything else legal, they are the ones to contact. This article clearly explains the role of a sports lawyer, various types of sports laws and skills they must have to get high paychecks.  

What Is a Sports Lawyer?

what is a sports lawyer

If you go by the definition, a sports lawyer is a licensed legal expert who protects the legal rights of his clients including sports boards, athletes, leagues, teams, trainers, and sports organizations. They hold diverse positions in educational institutions, athletic associations, law firms or can even practice independently. 

What Is the Work of a Sports Lawyer? 

Sports lawyers help in salary negotiations, finalizing the terms and fighting lawsuits. The primary job of a sports lawyer is to act as both a sports agent and a lawyer representing the client’s financial and legal interests. 

To carry out their role well and gain a competitive edge, they must be well-acquainted with the current state and federal laws. Further, they must have a strong command over civil procedures, intellectual property contracts, etc. Here is a list of some basic work and responsibilities of this job.

  • Work as a lawyer and agent both
  • Suggest legal advice; guidance to clients
  • Carry negotiation with team and players
  • Make client understand trademarks, broadcast rights, and endorsements
  • Negotiate deals of sponsorship
  • Deal with false accusations
  • Other legal needs 

What Is Sports Law? 

There is no specific body of law that can be termed sports law. However, several types of laws are applicable in the sports industry. Let’s have a look at them. 

Personal injury law 

A personal injury law deals with the legal claim or the millions of fans attending sports events. While injuries are very common in-game, if a fan or athlete gets injured in a game because of negligence in the maintenance of the property, it becomes a legal issue for the sports venue. So, any venue that hosts sporting events must avoid any negligent behavior that may result in personal injury liability.  

Contract law

Another popular sports law is contract law. The contract between the athletes and the team employing them is of utmost importance, and this can sometimes even involve millions of dollars. Therefore, a contract must be carefully written with detailed terms and conditions. A sports attorney has an eye for detail, he knows reading between the lines and can also figure out any missing points. Sports lawyer usually plays the role of both a contract drafter and a negotiator. 

Criminal Law

Sports are not frequently immune to criminal law, as most sports fall are made under presumed consent. However, when the contract outstands what is reasonable and expected in a sporting event, the athlete may suffer criminal charges. Moreover, in games like NHL where fighting is very common and is often allowed, sports lawyers have a major role to play in case of a fatal turn of events on the field.  

Labor and Employment Law

Labor and employment sports law applies to the entire sports team. This helps a sports attorney understand and implement hiring practices, worker’s compensation, termination process, tax, health insurance mandates, and medical leave. 

Athletic Administration Law

Under this law, colleges and universities must follow the myriad of federal and state laws when running college athletic programs. Also, they should abide by the governing body’s regulations.  

Personal Property Law

This sports law defines who owns a particular item of sports memorabilia when there is a dispute in ownership.  

What Are Popular Skills a Sports Lawyer Must Have? 

Sports attorneys’ main job is to handle legal matters relating to amateur/professional athletes and sports organizations. One may need their help in dealing with many matters that cross over each other’s practice area.  

So, they must have excellent reasoning skills and are well-versed in reading comprehension. Knowledge of entertainment law, copyright laws, and infringements would be an added advantage. 

The skills that define successful sports lawyers are:

  • Strong drafting and analytical abilities 
  • Communication and negotiation skills
  • Handling contracts containing 100+ pages 
  • Immense knowledge and passion
  • Ability to serve clients and form a network. 
  • An eye for detail
  • Build good rapport with their clients

If a sports lawyer has the above skills to represent professional athletes in contracts, salary negotiation, and litigation, they will receive a fat paycheck.


The need for a qualified sports lawyer is critical for sportspersons. While general lawyers are adept in legal advice, a sports attorney knows every in and out of the sports industry. Thus, getting their perception and guidance can pay off better.