Inside Law Admissions: Student Sports Law Network


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Michael McCann and Dylan Harriger

2L Dylan Harriger, co-founder and co-president of the new law student organization the Student Sports Law Network, discusses starting the group. Professor Michael McCann also joins the show to discuss the importance of the field of sports law and how student organizations like SSLN prepare law students for the professional world. Produced and Hosted by A. J. Kierstead

Learn more about the Student Sports Law Network at https://www.studentsportslawnetwork.com/

UNH Franklin Pierce's Sports and Entertainment Law Institute provides incredible opportunities for students who want a career in sports and entertainment law. More information is available at https://law.unh.edu/sports-entertainment-law-program

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Read the Transcript

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

2L Dylan Harriger is the co founder and co president for a new law student organization called The Student Sports Law Network. He joins me to discuss the group and its creation. Professor Michael McCann also joins the show to discuss the importance of the field of sports law and how organizations like SSON prepare law students for the professional world. This is Inside Law Admissions, a special series of the podcast The Legal Impact, presented by UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law. Now accepting applications for JD graduate programs and online professional certificates. Learn more and apply at law.unh.edu. To start off with Dylan, what is The Student Sports Law Network?

Dylan Harriger:

So The Student Sports Law Network was founded by six law students, including myself. We were brought together by Dan Loss of Goldberg Sigala. Dan came on and did a speech with us in the spring. And Dan discussed all the issues with COVID that were impacting sports. And so Dan decided to put together a group of students to play poker for free, just offline. He kind of went off and did that, and we started getting together and doing that and Zoomed, and the six of us discussed, came together, and came up with idea. And so the whole purpose behind The Students Sports Law Network is to provide a free place for students across the country, and now across the globe, interested in sports law, it's to connect, network and interact. And through that, we have a group message develop. There's a podcast and blog for students to upload and submit things. There's a member directory, there's a forum, and we also have an upcoming fall competition symposium that will be hosted through Zoom and have a panel of speakers. And our whole thing is really for students by students, which kind of sets us apart from a lot of the other organizations that do similar things.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

How important is it for students to get involved with organizations, like SSON where they can dive into specific field outside out of the classroom?

Michael McCann:

I think it's very important, obviously time permitting for students. And I think that when students are thinking about networking and joining other students across the country, an organization that delivers that can help them accomplish those goals. And sports law I would say is a field where it often takes an unconventional path to get to where you want to go. In some legal fields, if somebody wants to become a prosecutor or somebody wants to practice corporate law at a big firm, there are certain pathways of getting there that are normally used. Sports law is a little different. Sports law usually requires crafting one's own path. And it's often a field that right out of law school is difficult to get into. Rarely does a sports team or a league or a player's association hire a student out of law school. So if that's a goal that a student wants, ordinarily it requires practicing at a firm for a bit, and then trying to interview for an in-house counsel position. Now we've actually have had a student, Justin Bedard, go directly from law school to a major league baseball team. So it can happen, but I would caution that that's the unconventional route. So for students to get into sports law, it usually does require being involved and using experiential opportunities and I think an organization that helps students network can help them get there.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Going specifically into networking for both of you, I mean, what do you foresee an organization like this being able to offer?

Dylan Harriger:

That's a really important question, A.J. And I think professor McCann touched on that well with networking and how important that is. I think that an organization like this can provide multiple opportunities for that, not just to network with professionals in the field that we plan to bring on for our symposium and all the connections that all the members have and in their own network that they're bringing to the table, but also with each other, because we're really only as strong as the people in our field that are interested in the same things we are. And so the new generation and the upcoming future of sports law, it's important to connect everybody that have ideas like professor McCann said to start their own agencies or to do different things that way in whatever way they want to get involved, and this allows for people to interact and really grow and share their own network with a bigger group of people that have the same interests that they do. So I think it can be really beneficial for that.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Now for both of you, how important is the sports law field to both the legal community and the kind of sports and media industry? Evan, very fascinating. Our podcasts, where we talked about various aspects of those, the sports law and entertainment law field, it's very broad. Some of it's kind of corporate, some of it's entertainment, some of it's journalism. I mean, what sort of aspects really stand out to both of you with regards to why students might want to look into this field?

Michael McCann:

Well, I'll take that first. I think sports law and entertainment law more broadly are both fields where there's a public presence to them in many cases, that it attracts notoriety. It attracts interest from different groups to be in that field, and journalism is part of that. Journalism is its own field, of course, that takes honing skills and developing that craft. But certainly a lot of journalists are interested in sports legal issues because as we've seen, there are a ton of them and there are a ton of them that are newsworthy, even small things that to a lawyer would seem fairly unimportant, for whatever reason in sports can attract a lot of attention. Take the Zion Williamson litigation. I've had a very seasoned lawyer said to me, "I don't understand why that's newsworthy," because there have been certain developments in that case that were really not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Michael McCann:

If one were to look at a litigation and the steps in it, it wouldn't normally seem all that consequential. Yet if you attach Zion Williamson's name to something, even something fairly insignificant can attract a lot of media attention. And I think the other thing with that is that a lot of journalists kind of overstate the relevance or significance of certain legal developments. I've seen this in coverage of stories where you'll see a motion filed, then suddenly it's on Twitter. It's like, "Well, that's really not that consequential," but it's helpful to be an attorney who can sort of caution journalists that you got to look at a case in the broader spectrum and not kind of overemphasize the one development.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

I mean, what sort of aspects, Dylan, do you expect your organization to delve into that kind of encompasses this very broad field?

Dylan Harriger:

Yeah. And so I think that some of the things that we're going to offer and trying to give to our members, like I said, were for law students across the globe. And we already have over 180 members across seven countries and 70 plus law schools. So when you have that big reach and global reach like that, we want to make sure we're providing a product that is really useful. So I think that the place to submit podcast and also blogs is great for students trying to write, like professor McCann said, how important journalism and other opportunities in sports law can be. So I think an opportunity to do those two things with the podcast and blog is really helpful for them. And we also have a member directory that'll be available for students to log in and connect. So for example, last spring, when we did our sports betting summit, we were trying to reach out and connect to other sports law students.

Dylan Harriger:

And so now there'll be a place to easily access updated information with sales representatives across the country. So that easy network there, as well as the upcoming symposium and competition, that'll be free through Zoom. So many of these competitions and negotiation things are in person, obviously COVID has changed it up for a lot of schools, but with ours being free and also remote, it allows students to submit for the competition. And also it's in panels with important sports law speakers on important issues and kind of contribute to that and interacting for them to further grow their network.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

How do you feel like working with this group is going to help you after you graduate?

Dylan Harriger:

I just think networking is so important. I think professor McCann talks about that a lot and just in the field of sports law, he discussed how difficult it is to get into the field and how it's really kind of unconventional to go straight into it. So whether you go to a farm or do something like that and want to come back to sports law later, this network will connect you with, I guess almost 200 students now and growing that will also have similar goals to either A, unconventional go straight in the sports law or B, eventually end up in a field. So, four or five years down the line, if I don't go straight into sports law, which I hope to do, I have opportunity to reach back out with some of the connections I've made that may be in sports law now, and vice versa for anybody involved, as well as the professional speakers we'll have on board that will continue to be in the field of sports law. You can reach out to them and just have that network established because it's really important to have the network that you can reach out to and know people in the field of sports law, because it is so difficult to get into.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Dylan, where can people learn more about The Student Sports Law Network?

Dylan Harriger:

Yeah, so we're on Twitter and on Instagram @the_SSLN. Our website is thestudentsportslawnetwork.com. And either of those links have a link to our website, obviously. And then through that, there's a link to our application and we're also accepting applications for our committees we've formed, and that's going to open until August 5th and announced that week. Like I said, our symposium and competition will be this fall. And if anybody has any information, there's email and contact information on the pages I discussed.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Mike, while I've got you on here, why don't you give a quick plug to the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law's sports program?

Michael McCann:

Our law school sports/entertainment law program covers a wide range of courses and direct interaction with students on helping them obtain the things that Dylan just referenced, opportunities in sports law and in entertainment law, and working on building skills that help them get there. And I think most importantly, especially in sports/entertainment law, it's really about networking is a big part of it and experiential opportunities, which is a related point. But over the summer, doing things that are related to the field helps one position himself or herself to get into the industry. So we work with every student, we host events, and it's an exciting year ahead.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Thanks for listening to Inside Law Admissions, presented by UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law. Learn more about the law school and apply by visiting law.unh.edu. Subscribe to The Legal Impact on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify