Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Show-Me Sports Law

Guest post from Dr. Anastasios Kaburakis, a professor at the John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University:
After St. Louis’ beloved Cardinals lost Albert Pujols to the L.A. Angels last week, there was quite a discussion on how a small market like St. Louis can compete in intense, financially challenging times, and indeed in a cut-throat industry like sports. St. Louis ranks 18th in metropolitan area size 
in the U.S.

What is most interesting for sports law aficionados, however, is that St. Louis is developing into a hub for sports law. It was during the same fateful week of Dec. 5 that one of the two biggest law firms  in town, Thompson Coburn, announced a major addition, the immediate past President of the Sports Lawyers Association, Bob Wallace, veteran NFL executive and former St. Louis Rams’ general counsel, who will lead a new sports law practice group. This follows the other major St. Louis firm, Bryan Cave, announcing earlier this summer  the commencement of its sports law practice group, led by Ryan Davis. Both firms followed suit along the path of Stinson LLP and Bob Lattinville, who together with Gary Uberstine formed a national partnership, Premier Stinson Sports, specializing in elite coaches’ representation. Of course, when representation is discussed, St. Louis is home to CAA Football, Jim Steiner, Ben Dogra, and Tom Condon, who compete for the top-level football talent with cross-town rival Harold Lewis and the National Sports Agency.

Further, for sports law gurus, one needs to keep in mind that St. Louis-based Harness, Dickey, and Pierce, a top-5 global Intellectual Property firm, has been attending to sports IP issues for years, receiving international attention and fantasy sports fans’ adoration due to the successful CBC v MLBAM case before the Eighth Circuit, led by Super IP litigator Rudy Telscher.

Add to those national players the several pockets of key sport finance consultation in town, as well as a focused sport law research group including international academics and practitioners collaborating with the Saint Louis University John Cook School of Business sports business program, and one observes that the Gateway City may well be the best-kept secret in international sports law.

Here’s hoping that St. Louis’ Law Schools also recognize the tremendous opportunities for young practitioners, as well as the further involvement our fine academic institutions may have through their meaningful contributions to the industry (not to mention the patent prospects for landing external funding through such service and collaborative initiatives with the various key industry players in town). Conceivably, St. Louis may become an international destination for sport law studies, and the promising challenge is there for a law school to be a first entrant in town, joining the 12 or so other law school-housed sport law centers, institutes, clinics, and certificate programs around the U.S. already providing valuable service to law students, faculty, practitioners, and the entire sports industry.