Sports law program paves the path towards great success
Anne Marie Burke, JD ’21, is a first-generation law student and Chinese adoptee hailing from Boulder, Colorado. In the summer of 2021, Burke landed a job with Spurs Sports and Entertainment as a Legal Associate in San Antonio, Texas.
In her new role, she serves as in-house counsel for Spurs Sports and Entertainment. Burke advises various departments on the latest laws and policies in several areas, including intellectual property, employment, and sports betting. The company owns the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, the NBA G-League’s Austin Spurs and the USL’s San Antonio Football Club. In addition, it operates the AT&T Center and Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas.
Burke’s goal in attending Oregon Law was to help pave a path for women and individuals from underrepresented communities to prove how they too can be successful in the white, male dominated sports industry.
“I’m one of over 100,000 children, mostly girls, adopted from China because of the one-child policy, which highlights China’s cultural gender bias. I’m fortunate to have resources and a support structure that wouldn’t otherwise have existed. The accessibility to these resources can make or break a future. I’m keenly aware of the gender and racial gap in the legal and sports industry. Being subjected to gender and racial discrimination has made me stronger and I’m committed to not letting any labels define who I am and what I achieve,” says Burke.
Oregon Law offers a variety of sports law classes and a top-ranked Summer Sports Law Institute. In addition, students have access to internship opportunities with the UO athletic department at a Division I school, and the PAC-12 Conference. During Burke’s time at Oregon Law, she had an internship with the UO Athletic Compliance Department and an externship with the Pac-12 Conference. Burke spent her 3L spring semester earning law school credit for her full-time externship at the Pac-12 Conference. This exposure to in-house counsel work gave her practical experience that she was able to leverage to help her land her current position and ease her transition to being a new attorney.
Burke credits Oregon Law for opening doors and providing her a platform to gain the knowledge, leadership, and credentials needed for success after law school. The Legal Research and Writing Program and her participation on the Oregon Review of International Law helped her hone her writing skills. She served as a Staff Editor in her 2L year and an Executive Editor during her 3L year and this experience helped her publish an article in the Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport. The article, titled “Raising the Bar: Increasing Protection for Athletes in the Olympic Movement from Sexual Harassment and Abuse,” was published in a peer-reviewed journal focused on legal and policy issues in sports.
Burke was a representative on the Student Bar Association and the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee for all three years of law school. These positions structured her growth as both a leader and advocate for her classmates at Oregon Law.
In 2020-2021, Burke was a Minoru Yasui Fellow, allowing her to co-moderate a panel titled “A Conversation in Celebration of Minoru Yasui’s Legacy” to highlight the countless contributions Oregon Law alum, Minoru Yasui made to the legal field as a lawyer, consultant, and educator. Burke acknowledges Yasui’s courage and bravery for inspiring so many Asian-American law students, including herself, to continue the fight against social injustice and racial discrimination.
When asked to share one experience that helped shape her as a lawyer, she credits her 150 hours of Pro Bono work at Lane County Legal Aid/Senior Law Service as an intake interviewer. Her work at a local legal aid clinic provided her with an opportunity to gain client counseling skills and give back to the community while learning the power of advocacy.
“You have a story, it’s up to you to figure out how to write it. You may think you have very little experience, but that’s not correct, all the life experiences you have will be what you draw from in any job. Make sure you keep the ball rolling – once you have your first job you may think your work is done, but in fact that’s just the start. Don’t think of your career as climbing a corporate ladder.
With a ladder there’s only one way up, the steps are equally spaced and if you fall, it’s a long way down. Instead, think of it as a rock-climbing wall. There are many ways to make it to the top, you can take little steps, big steps, and sometimes you might find yourself going sideways. It won’t be easy, and sometimes you’ll find yourself needing to move down before coming up again, but if you do, you’ll have a safety harness on so you can get right back up. What matters is you always continue reaching.”