Earlier this week, I exchanged emails with Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner). As an introductory matter, Mr. Heitner currently runs his own law firm, Heitner Legal, and specializes in Sports and Entertainment, as well as Intellectual Property, among other legal areas. In addition to owning his own firm, Darren writes for Inc.com, Forbes, and the Sports Agent Blog. (He is the Blog’s founder and currently serves as its Editor-in-Chief). Because Darren’s responses arrived via email, his answers are properly italicized.
Going to Law School, Differentiating Himself During Law School, and Landing First Job
Originally, my goal was to represent talent (particularly, athletes), and I figured that law school would provide me with further insight into the drafting and negotiation of contracts, intellectual property concerns and other attributes that would assist potential clients as well as prepare me for what was to come. In fact, I established my own sports agency (called Dynasty Athlete Representation) in the months leading up to my first year of law school. I would work on building that agency throughout my three years at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, even passing up on law clerking opportunities in exchange for having the ability to spend more time on the development of my company.
As with almost any startup, I experienced the highs and lows of creating my own business, constantly adjusting but staying true to seeing it through. Upon graduation, I moved from Gainesville, Florida to Fort Lauderdale with the assumption that I would spend all hours of the day continuing to work on growing the agency. However, I was approached by a law firm upon moving to Fort Lauderdale. That firm, which largely focused on insurance defense, asked me to join as an associate despite having zero experience in a law firm setting. I stayed there for one year before moving on to practice elsewhere.
Consumption of News, Involvement with the News, and How Both May Change/Evolve
I think Twitter has solved many problems, but created others, which presents further opportunity for innovators to enter the news/aggregation space and take advantage of what consumers truly crave. Immediacy is key; people want breaking news. However, they also only want to see topics that they care about and also do not wish to miss anything if they happen to be away from their mobile device for five minutes.
You mentioned SportsManias … I believe that the platform (Disclosure: It is a Heitner Legal client) is unique in that it allows the consumer to customize his/her feed to only focus on those teams and/or players that he/she is concerned with and receive information from the local beat writers who know best. Additionally, platforms like The Players Tribune and the much more recently announced Unscriptd (founded by Andre Agassi) cut out the middle man (to an extent), allowing athletes to speak directly to their fans. Expect more of this in the future.
Pierre Garcon’s Lawsuit Against FanDuel
I guess I know a little bit about publicity rights, since I said Garcon’s case was a loser and on January 19, it was voluntarily dismissed. The terms of the settlement are confidential, but I cannot fathom Garcon earning anything more than a nominal amount to cover some of his fees and costs in the infancy of the litigation.
Prospect of Other NFL Players Filing Similar Lawsuits
I have been approached by other NFL players to serve as counsel and file a similar lawsuit to that which was filed by Garcon and have respectfully declined said opportunities. It is fair to assume that I believe current NFL players are better served to focus on their on-field performance and limit distractions in the form of weak lawsuits.
How Teaching (University of Indiana-Bloomington Graduate School, 2011-2014; University of Florida Graduate School and Law School, May 2015-Present) Has Enhanced His Sports Law Expertise
Teaching continues to challenge my knowledge on subjects that I believe I have already mastered, but also new areas of the law and novel legal issues that may have not been on my radar in the past. Students constantly quiz me by asking difficult questions that do not always have simple answers. It requires me to always be brushing up on relevant case law and news, which I enjoy.
Being Busy, Busy, Busy & Trying to Carve Out Time to Relax
That would be giving away proprietary information. I’m an intellectual property attorney. Such trade secrets cannot be disclosed.
The Marquette University Law School Sports Law Society Blog sincerely thanks Darren for taking the time to answer several questions about sports law and his experience in the sports law industry. We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.
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