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Sports Law

Overview
Civil Litigation
Counseling
White Collar & Investigations
Regulatory & Compliance

The widespread growth and popularity of sports has led to a rise in the complexity of the legal issues now facing the modern professional athlete. From complex contract negotiations, to civil litigation, to investigations conducted by leagues, Congress, and state and federal regulators, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP’s Sports Law Practice provides a diverse range of counseling and legal services to athletes and their families, coaches, and agents. On the counseling side, we advise professional baseball players and coaches in contract negotiations, salary arbitrations, and free agency, as well as negotiate endorsement and marketing contracts on their behalf. We have also advised numerous players and their families regarding their selection in the Major League Baseball (MLB) first year player draft, including a number of high-round selections, and advised amateur athletes and their families on NCAA eligibility issues. Among our clients are two major league baseball players recognized among the 10 smartest athletes in professional sports by Sports Illustrated.

On the litigation and investigation side, we have also represented players appearing before congressional committees, represented players and agents under investigation by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), and represented sports agencies, agents, and former players in a variety of litigation matters, including salary arbitration proceedings and fee disputes. We have also represented players in high-profile litigation and congressional investigations. The firm gained national attention for its groundbreaking work in National Football League (NFL) concussion litigation, securing the first-ever win against the NFL pension plans and a multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of the estate of Pittsburgh Steelers great Mike Webster. One of the firm lawyers also represented a player who appeared and testified before the House Committee on Government Reform investigation into steroids in professional baseball. 

In addition to the firm’s well-regarded litigators and business lawyers, our sports law team includes a Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) certified agent and the founder and owner of an internet sports business that provided statistical services for fantasy baseball, basketball, and football leagues before being acquired by a unit of NBC Sports. Our attorneys have been called on to testify before Congress about NFL head injuries and are frequent speakers on sports law topics.

Zuckerman Spaeder’s sports clients benefit from the firm’s deep bench of experienced litigators. When contract negotiations breakdown, we represent players, agents, and coaches in salary arbitrations. Our attorneys have represented sports agencies as well as MLB players in arbitrations involving fees disputes and agency break ups. We have also represented players, owners, agents, and other sports figures in litigation related to a variety of business disputes, including in appellate courts.

The firm has gained nationwide recognition for its groundbreaking work representing players in concussion litigation against the NFL. In our representation on behalf of the family of the late Pittsburgh Steelers great Mike Webster, we secured the first-ever win against the NFL pension plans and a multimillion-dollar settlement for the estate. We continue to represent numerous NFL players in ongoing concussion litigation.

With a team including an MLBPA-certified agent, Zuckerman Spaeder’s Sports Law Practice advises players and coaches in contract negotiations and free agency, in addition to negotiating endorsement and marketing contracts on their behalf. Our attorneys have counseled numerous players and their families regarding their selection in the MLB first year player draft, including a number of high-round selections. We have also advised amateur athletes and their families on NCAA eligibility issues. Some of our current clients include professional players Chris Young (Seattle Mariners), Ross Ohlendorf (Washington Nationals), David Hale (Atlanta Braves), and Chris Nelson (Cincinnati Reds), in addition to coach David Bell (St. Louis Cardinals).

In addition to representing clients in matters related to their amateur or professional sports careers, we are also well-equipped to advise our clients in a variety of business matters outside of their playing careers.

The scrutiny of athletes in the era of performance-enhancing drugs has never been greater. With a nationally recognized white collar practice, Zuckerman Spaeder represents sports clients in criminal investigations and litigation, in addition to league investigations and disciplinary proceedings. We have also advised numerous clients appearing before Congress in hearings regarding the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.

Athletes, coaches, agents, and others in the sports industry are bound by the rules and regulations of their respective leagues, players associations, and the NCAA. Increasingly, professional sports have also been subject to congressional oversight. Zuckerman Spaeder’s sports law attorneys advise amateur athletes and their families on NCAA eligibility issues; represent clients facing league disciplinary proceedings; and counsel clients testifying before Congress.

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