The Top Five Sports Agents Who Are Lawyers


A lot of what America knows about sports agents it learned from Jerry Maguire.  As in, “It’s not show friends, it’s show business.” And “show me the money.”

But did you know that “Dicky Fox,” Jerry’s mentor and imparts wisdom throughout the movie, wasn’t played by an actor at all?  His real name is Jared Jussim, and he’s the actual Deputy General Counsel and Executive Vice President of the Intellectual Property Department of Sony Pictures.  He was cast on a lark by director Cameron Crow to be the movie’s wise, old sage.

Being a sports agent takes more than just lawyerly qualities.  On top of master negotiation skills, it requires adept public relations and finance acumen.  Every move you make on behalf of your client is important.  And if can’t hack managing a huge roster of clients and/or don’t have the thickest Rolodex in the business, you’re doomed.

But if you got what it takes, the reward can be huge.  Like really big.  Like “best money anywhere” big.  Just think about what athletes earn, and then consider the fact sports agent makes three to five percent of every negotiated contract.  Yeah.  Huge.

Sports agent Darren Heitner, the creator of SportsAgentBlog.com who is also currently a 3L at the University of Florida-Gainsville, has been trying to crack his first million since he started his own agency back in 2007 at the age of 22.  He’s addicted to sports law, enjoys offering leads on how to break into the biz and even published an article in the Dartmouth Law Journal calling for the formation of a federal sports agent registration system.

While Heitner continues to work his way up, these five lawyers (along with seven honorable mentions) reign as the world’s biggest sports agents.  In other words, these dudes net the mighty “quan.”

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1.  DREW ROSENHAUS

President & Chairman, Rosenhaus Sports

Law School: The Duke University School of Law (1990)

Clients with Recent Buzz: Terrell Owens and Antrel Rolle

Superagent or devil? He tops the list based on his own fame more than his clients’.  At only 22—before even graduating law school—Drew Rosenhaus registered as a sports agent (the youngest at the time) and founded Rosenhaus Sports in 1988 with his brother, fellow lawyer Jason RosenhausRosenhaus Sports is now “a leader in NFL Athlete Representation.”

Drew has negotiated over $2 billion in NFL contracts, and he is reportedly the basis for the character “Bob Sugar” in Jerry Maguire.  He’s comfortably ranked on SportsBusiness Journal’s “20 Most Influential Sports Agents.” And with a client list of 110 active players, Rosenhaus currently represents the most unrestricted free agents in the NFL for 2010.

Sideline Note: A lover of the spotlight (and subject of satire), Rosenhaus is the only agent to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  He even stared in his own “dubious” ESPN SportsCenter commercial.

Continued below video.

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2.  SCOTT BORAS

President & Founder, The Boras Corporation

Law School: University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law (1982)

Clients with Recent Buzz: Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Damon

Some call him the devil, some say he’s not that bad, some say he’s actually “the embodiment of the American dream.” Regardless, it all about two words: Alex Rodriguez.  (Boras negotiated ARod’s $252 million deal.) Scott is, by far, the most powerful agent in baseball and the most successful independent agent based on the value of contracts negotiated.

As the “highest paid man in baseball,” Boras ranked #37 on BusinessWeek’s “Power 100” list of most influential figures in sports.

Boras is a former second baseman and center fielder who played in the minor leagues for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals organizations. After four years, he retired due to knee injuries and returned to school to earn his law degree.  Before becoming an agent, Boras defended drug companies for the Chicago firm Rooks, Pitts & Poust (now Dykema Gossett).

Sideline Note: The Cubs paid for Boras to attend law school.  And not to be outdone by Drew Rosenhaus, Boras has an ESPN commercial of his own.

Continued below video.

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3.  TOM CONDON

Co-Head Football, CAA Sports

Law School: University of Baltimore (1981)

Clients with Recent Buzz: Peyton & Eli Manning and Anquan Boldin

CAA Football represents 130 NFL players, including “11 of the 32 NFL starting quarterbacks, seven of the last eight NFL MVPs, 21 players selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl, three of the last four Super Bowl MVPs and five of the last six #1 overall picks in the NFL Draft.” As part of that, Tom Condon was personally named the SportsBusiness Journal’s “Most Influential Agent” in 2008.

Condon merged with CAA in 2006 to create the mega-agency’s football division shortly after joining forces with Ben Dogra (next on our list), uniting pro football’s top two agents under one roof.

An outspoken proponent of a salary cap-less NFL, which could actually cut some players’ pay, Condon ranked #70 on BusinessWeek’s “Power 100” list of most influential figures in sports.

Sideline Note: Condon began his career as an NFL player: Offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs (1974-1984) and the New England Patriots (1985).  Earning his JD during off-seasons, Condon was president of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) from 1984 to 1986.

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4.  BEN DOGRA

Co-Head Football, CAA Sports

Law School: St. Louis University School of Law (1994)

Clients with Recent Buzz: Brodney Pool and Tashard Choice

Along with partner Tom Condon, Dogra rules the newly developed CAA Football, which represented more first-round selections in last year’s NFL Draft than any other agency.  “Ben Dogra is involved in the representation of eight of CAA’s nine first-round picks. That makes this the sixth straight year he has at least tied for the most first-rounders.”

Dogra was ranked #6 on Sports Business Journal‘s “Most Powerful Sports Agents” list in 2008.

Sideline Note: Dogra was born and lived in New Delhi until his parents moved to Virginia at age six.

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5.  ARN TELLEM

President, Wasserman Media Group Management

Law School: University of Michigan Law School (1979)

Clients with Recent Buzz: Tracy McGrady and Hideki Matsui

Unlike most sports agents, Tellem is a double threat who built majorly successful practices in two sports: Basketball and baseball.  Representing seven of the first 15 picks in the 2009 NBA draft, Sports Illustrated called Tellem “a mix of mix of integrity and absurdity.”

He was the SportsBusiness Journal’s “Most Influential Agent” in 2006 and ranked #98 on BusinessWeek’s “Power 100” list of most influential figures in sports.  He’s even a frequent contributor to Huffington Post—although he has his share of critics.

Before becoming an agent, Tellem worked for Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips in Los Angeles and served as General Counsel for the Los Angeles Clippers from 1982-1988.  He’s also an occasional adjunct professor at the University of Southern California School of Law.

Sideline Note: Arn is married to Nancy Tellem (fellow lawyer, Forbes’s #32 most powerful woman in 2008 and former President of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group) who now works as senior adviser to Les Moonves.

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Seven “Lawyer Sports Agent” Honorable Mentions:

6.  MARK STEINBERG

Global Managing Director, IMG Golf

Law School: University of Illinois College of Law (1992)

The top man behind Tiger Woods who has handled his client’s crisis in a “muted style.”

7.  JOEL SEGAL

President, Best Football

Law School: Hofstra (1989)

Michael Vick’s dawg who just got his client re-upped by the Eagles.

8.  ROB PELINKA

CEO of The Landmark Sports Agency, LLC

Law School: University of Michigan (1996)

Agent-ed Kobe Bryant right through the flames Bryant’s notorious rape scandal.

9.  PHIL de PICCIOTTO

President of Athletes & Personalities, Octagon

Law School: University of Pennsylvania Law School (1981)

He’s #47 on the “50 Most Influential” list and believes Tiger got the Kobe Bryant treatment.

10.  EUGENE PARKER

President, Maximum Sports Management

Law School: Valparaiso University (1982)

Do the names Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Richard Seymour ring a bell?  ‘Nuff said.

11.  LEIGH STEINBERG

Lee Steinberg Sports & Entertainment

Law School: University of California—Berkeley Boalt Hall (1973)

Drew Rosenhaus may be the guy behind “Bob Sugar,” but Steinberg is credited for being the real-life inspiration for Tom Cruise’s lead character Jerry Maguire.

12.  DONALD MEEHAN

Founder, Newport Sports Management, Inc.

Law School: Canada’s Faculty of Law, McGill University (1975)

Broke his parents’ hearts when he gunned to be the best agent in the National Hockey League.

Read more from Mark Thudium.

13 Comments

  1. Cheryl

    March 8, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Kinda odd that most of them went to a TTT.

  2. Roger

    March 8, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Kinda cool that most of them went to TTT. Proves the point: Law school rankings don’t mean shit.

  3. BL1Y

    March 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Roger: Tell that to a TTT student during OCI.  (For the TTT students reading, OCI refers to a week long period of “On Campus Interviews,” during which law firms send delegations to schools to conduct first round interviews.)

  4. Roger

    March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    BL!Y:  You’re such an idiot, it’s sort of sad. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that someone choose a TTT over Yale.  I’m simply pointing out that it’s sort of cool that lots of successful agents went to a TTT.  To be even more precise, i find it compelling and encouraging when people with imperfect pedigree rise to the top of their profession.  I also believe the bitter lawyer audience will find this encouraging too since most people don’t go to T10 schools and law students and young lawyers are constantly worried about their resumes holding them back. If you’re smart and work hard—and have a personality—you can go as far as you want. 
    That’s my point, you socially inept, moronic, annoying, tool.

  5. BL1Y

    March 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    If you were smart, worked hard, and had a personality, you wouldn’t have been stuck at a TTT.

  6. Roger

    March 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    If you WERE… but not if you ARE.

  7. Alma Federer

    March 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    You guys cannot be for real.  Not only is this article boring, but to have a bunch of non-athletes debating this topic is as bad as you pasty faced oafs discussing women’s bodies.  I am offended when men talk about my measurements.  I do not talk about your bodies to others, so why should you men do this.  You must respect women before we will respect you, but you must EARN our respect.  So stop acting like dopes and we will start to respect you.

  8. Anon

    March 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Shut up Alma .  You’re obviously not a woman.  It’s no longer even close to being amusing.  Please, donate your time, energy and abundant talent elsewhere.  Tool!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Anonymous

    March 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Too bad this field is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to break into really.  But thanks for making us feel miserable.

  10. Deraj

    March 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    BL1Y – If you were smart, worked hard, and had a personality, you wouldn’t be unemployed.  Jackass.

  11. In the know

    March 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Rosenhaus while attending and graduating law school, never passed the bar, never probably had to take it since his success has been pretty high during and since law school.
    If you look at the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, you will see his brother Jason has passed the bar in Florida, but Drew never did.  Both are residents around Miami.
    Think about that the next time you hear about his antics and the rules of professional responsibility.

  12. JD

    March 10, 2010 at 6:41 am

    No mention of Jimmy Sexton?

  13. Guano Dubango

    March 11, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Is Georgetown a TTT?

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