Darren Heitner talks about his career as the Sports and Entertainment Attorney. You can find Darren on his blog at www.SportsAgentBlog.com and on his Twitter feed – @DarrenHeitner. Learn more information about Darren at www.DarrenHeitner.com.
What do you do for a living?
I earn a living in a variety of ways. The bulk of my income is received through my work as an attorney. I am an associate at Wolfe Law Miami, P.A., where I focus on transactional and litigation work with a specialty in catering to sports and entertainment related entities. A large part of my practice concerns intellectual property registrations and disputes. I also earn money from writing. I own and operate the popular Sports Agent Blog website and contribute to Forbes.com.
I am also a professor of Sports Agency Management at Indiana University and co-founder of Collegiate Sports Advisors, which is a company that provides assistance to universities with regards to preparing their student-athletes for professional life. I am always thinking about new ventures.
How would you describe what you do?
I call myself “The Sports and Entertainment Attorney,” because as I stated, my primary function is as an attorney. Even my writing, teaching, and consulting are tied to my profession as an attorney. But I do not want people to get the sense that I ONLY represent sports and entertainment entities in my legal practice. In fact, anywhere between 30-40% of my clientele have little-to-nothing to do with sports and/or entertainment.
What does your work entail?
I review and draft many documents every day. I also do a lot of research regarding the subject matter that I am working on. I am in court for hearings and trials, but spend the most of my time in the office. However, I do travel a lot to speak to others in my profession and those who want to break into my profession about hot topics in my industry.
What’s a typical work week like?
I get into the office at around 8:30 a.m. and leave between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. I take a lot of phone calls and receive hundreds of emails per day. In the Fall, I will be teaching every Tuesday evening for 2 1/2 hours. I try to get in 6 workouts per week. I also will do research and write articles for my websites in the evenings and set them to publish early the following morning. I always keep up with social media throughout the day. I have found that my presence on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn have led to a great amount of business.
How did you get started?
I got my start writing by creating Sports Agent Blog (found at http://www.SportsAgentBlog.com) as a New Year’s Resolution in 2005. At the time, I had wanted to become a sports agent (which I would eventually become and then realize it was not something I wished to pursue). I went to law school at the University of Florida (where I also received my Bachelors of Arts degree with a Political Science major), which allowed me to become an attorney.
What do you like about what you do?
I love working with athletes and entertainers. They have a way of keeping my tasks interesting.
What do you dislike?
That I sit for long periods of time. I am an active person and like to be on my feet.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I earn money depending on the number of visitors to my websites and from advertisers. I also make money based on clients paying retainers for my legal services and/or having a successful verdict/settlement.
How much money do Sports Attorneys make?
Sports attorneys can make anywhere from around $100,000 to well over a million dollars depending on the type of clientele and cases.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
In today’s job market, it is tough to find a job at a law firm that provides a starting salary in excess of $100,000. However, it depends on the market. It is rather common from attorneys in New York to make more money than their similiarly situated colleagues elsewhere. Pay often also depends on the size of the firm and whether or not that firm has a minimum billable hours requirement. The larger firms typically pay more, but also require young attorneys to log a very large number of hours per year.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
One must have a J.D. in order to be a lawyer.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Trying to provide excellent service while keeping my clients’ expenses low. I want to make sure that I put enough time into each matter without billing my clients’ an exorbitant amount of money in fees.
What is most rewarding?
Seeing others happy with my work product.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
You better be able to write and speak persuasively.
How much time off do you get/take?
There is no specific limit. I try to be very reasonable and would never let it affect my practice.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
People think that I am still an agent. I do not represent athletes in their contractual negotiations with professional teams.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
To be able to influence policy for the betterment of society.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
It is ultra competitive. One must have an appetite for competition.