Slowly at first, then all at once. That is how American law schools took on scam-like features until they reached their current state of degraded beyond repair. In 1993, Tulane became the first law school in the nation to offer a certificate of specialization in Sports Law for its JD students. Two other schools, Marquette and Fordham, have since followed, and many more offer Sports Law as an elective. And the unlovely visage of legal education was marred with a brand new excrescence.
I went to the Tulane Law website to find out what law students have to do to win the coveted certificate of specialization. The Tulane site, linked here, provides another link that you can click to download, in pdf., a 16-page brochure entitled "Sports Law" (hereinafter: "Brochure").
The young Tulane Sports Law hopeful must take Sports Law I and Sports Law II, Tax, Intellectual Property, Labor, Business Enterprises, and Intellectual Property. He or she must also choose from a menu of electives that includes "International Sports Law" and "Negotiation & Mediation Advocacy."
At least Sports Law at Tulane is not all dry book learning. For instance, the program offers the opportunity to intern for the Tulane Athletics Department and local sports teams, compete in the Tulane-created Sports Law Negotiation competition, attend the Sports Lawyers’ Association annual seminar, and research and write for program director Prof. Gabe Feldman’s monthly online newsletter.
Is Tulane’s certificate of specialization in Sports Law respected in the, uh, Sports Bar? The brochure suggests the following exciting career prospects:
* "You could be counsel to one of several hundred individual teams in major or minor league sports." (Brochure at p. 8)
* "You could be a lawyer for a player union." (Brochure at p. 9)
* "You might end up negotiating endorsement deals or television or movie contracts for high-profile athletes." (Brochure at p. 9)
* "You might represent the major or minor leagues themselves." (Brochure at p. 13)
* "How about representing sports facilities and their management?" (Brochure at p. 13)
*"Then there is representing sporting goods or equipment manufacturers or suppliers." (Brochure at p. 13)
* "Representing coaches is always fun." (Brochure at p. 13)
* "You could represent a university." (Brochure at p. 13)
* "The most likely scenario, though, is that you will develop expertise in an area of law with application to any number of industries and that you will work with a wide variety of clients. Your background in sports law, however, will position you to take special advantage of opportunities that arise for representation in the sports context. And if you’re determined and proactive, you could find yourself attracting sports clients or being hired by the sports employer of your dream." (Brochure at p. 14)Tulane has been conferring the Sports Law certificate of specialization for 20 years, so there must be available or obtainable data on how the certificate holders have fared. At this point, I do not think that even the law schools themselves (publicly) deny that their students and prospective students deserve accurate and comprehensive placement info. Plus, don't sports fans generally like to, you know, keep score? So I am sure that Tulane will be happy to answer the following questions:
How many Tulane JDs have earned the Sports Law certificate of specialization? And, of these, how many are counsel to a major or minor league sports team or players’ unions? How many represent the major or minor leagues themselves? How many have negotiated endorsement deals or television or movie contracts for high profile athletes? How many represent universities or have experienced the always-fun activity of representing coaches? How many have been hired by the sports employer of their dreams?
It is sad to picture a naïve kid entering the legal job market with this joke of a certificate adorning his or her resume, like a donkey's tail. It is sadder to think how little respect scamming law faculties have for the students who made them rich.