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Pursuing Sports Law at Oregon Law

With the Oregon Ducks football team’s continued success and Eugene’s historic reputation as “Track Town USA,” it’s no surprise that university students are pursuing sports in a professional capacity off the field, including sports journalism, sports business, sports marketing and even sports law.

Logan O’Shaughnessy, an University of Oregon School of Law alumnus who graduated in 2007, discovered his love of sports as a young adult watching football and playing basketball. After transferring to Oregon Law as a 2L, O’Shaughnessy began looking for activities that complemented his interest in law as well as his passion for sports.

It was then that O’Shaughnessy began writing and submitting articles about sports law issues, including one featured on Westlaw titled, “After Review: An Open Letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Suggesting That Limiting the League’s Disciplinary Power Under the Personal Conduct Policy May Be in the League’s Best Interests.”

O’Shaughnessy also wrote sports articles for the Competition Not Conflict blog,
which features positive content about current sports issues.

“Make sure you always write about something you’re passionate about,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Whether they are participants or just casual fans, sports (is) an area that many people are interested in.”

Writing gave O’Shaughnessy an excellent outlet for his interest in sports; however, Oregon Law also offers many other options for students interested in learning more about sports law, including student groups, classes and networking.

Joining Student Groups

The Sport and Entertainment Law Forum (SELF), is an Oregon Law student group whose goal is to “expand student understanding of the dynamics and issues involved with sports and entertainment law,” according to SELF’s website. SELF brings in guest speakers, provides a forum for discussing current sport issues and organizes the annual Sports and Entertainment Law Conference.

Matt Fanelli, an Oregon Law 3L, became involved in SELF his first year of law school by serving as a 1L representative and working with the executive board to set up the annual sports law conference.

“SELF was a good way to combine something I was personally really interested in—sports—with something that I’m learning about and that is professionally relevant,” said Fanelli.

Fanelli became SELF’s director during his second year (the title now belongs to Matt Chandler), illustrating the benefit of pursuing membership in student organizations early in one’s law school career and showing that a personal interest can be turned into a viable professional focus.

To get involved in SELF, incoming students can run in the 1L elections, a process in which candidates submit a bio and statement of interest to the executive board, which selects the most qualified 1L representatives.

Networking With Professionals

Fanelli also cites networking with law professionals as a vital aspect to securing any type of summer externship position as a law student, especially in the sports law and sports agent arena.

 “Outside of being in the top five percent of the school, most people get their interviews based on networking,” said Fanelli.

It can be as easy as sharing career goals and developing relationships with industry professionals at sports law events such as SELF’s Sports and Entertainment Law Conference.

“The number of people I’ve been in touch with since working on the conference last year and this year is enormous,” said Fanelli. “I know so many people who are all so friendly and would tell me, ‘Hey, if you need to know someone I can put you in touch with this agent or this professor.’ That’s how everyone gets their jobs.”

Registering for Sports Law Classes

Despite not having a specific sports law program, Oregon Law offers classes such as Branding of Sports Figures, which teaches law students how to brand an athlete and handle legal challenges that arise at different stages of an athlete’s career.

Oregon Law’s Conflict and Dispute Resolution masters program also offers courses such as Sports and Conflict, which focuses on ways to handle conflict within sports.

Just as O’Shaughnessy developed his interest in sports law by writing for different publications and Fanelli got involved in a sports law student group, there are many ways for current and prospective students to explore sports law at Oregon Law. The key is to find a route into sports law that fits your goals and will help you develop your skills.

“If sports law is something you really want to do,” said O’Shaughnessy, “just keep trying.”

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