By: Annie Beckstrom
The halls of PMH are rife with bright, accomplished law students. The fervor to succeed is palpable as students work tirelessly to earn a meaningful role in the legal community. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that in a law school stacked with such a wide array of academic talent, PMHers enjoy a host of coveted summer job opportunities. While the typical summer job usually involves a Big Firm associate position or judicial clerkship, several students pursuing niche legal fields have recently experienced unique opportunities that tilt the perspective of a customary career path. George Bonvillian is one such law student.
George Bonvillian, a third year law student, was offered a summer position at Sportstars NFL Player Agency in New York City. Sportstars consists of a group of eight NFL agents that collectively represent 150 active NFL clients. Furthermore, Sportstars boasts a track record of success in the NFL, recently dominating the 2014 NFL Draft with 25 clients drafted, 9 of which were picked within the top 100. In fact, Forbes concluded that approximately 10% of the players selected in the 2014 NFL draft were clients of Sportstars. With an office located in vibrant New York City and representation of the NFL’s foremost athletes, this summer proved to be the chance of a lifetime for George.
When asked to describe a typical day at the office, George characterized his work environment as atypical. George said, “One of the reasons I’m drawn to sports law and agency is that there’s no such thing as a ‘typical day.’ Each day brought a new challenge or opportunity based on what was happening in the sports world or even the specific stage a client was at in their career.”
While George was able to flex his analytic skills, his assignments deviated from the standard memorandum or research project. “The projects I was assigned at Sportstars varied every day. I could be drafting a contract for a client’s trading card or memorabilia deal, revising an appearance agreement, or looking into new opportunities for our athletes. Some of the projects I enjoyed most were ones that involved structuring marketing deals for clients. I enjoyed negotiating with companies to get our guys the best deal possible.”
In highly specialized areas of the law, it is common to find practitioners with an underlying passion for the subject matter. This notion rings true for George, who fostered an interest in sports from a young age. His love for Louisiana’s home team runs deep as he claims he has “celebrated and suffered with the Saints since 1991.” When George reached adolescence, he began to envision a professional life that allowed him to channel his captivation with athletics. “As I got into high school, I realized working in sports could be an actual career path. My original plan was sports journalism, but after switching majors from Journalism to Sport Administration my freshman year at LSU, I began to explore other opportunities. After looking into fields like marketing and sales, I decided the right step was getting my law degree and working with sports teams and athletes.”
The ability to link a personal passion with a legal profession is a goal many law students struggle to achieve. The immense workload and subsequent exhaustion that accompanies professional school seems worthwhile if this exertion leads to an engaging career prospect. Fortunately for George, this box is already checked. When asked what advice he would give those interested in pursuing this nuanced, often competitive field of law, he cited his mentor at Sportstars. “His most valuable piece of advice was to figure out your own personal style and stick to it – whether it was recruiting athletes or working on a marketing deal. Don’t try to be like someone else you saw in a movie or read about in a magazine.” Drawing from his recent experience, George advises students considering sports law to keep an open mind when it comes to job possibilities. “There are so many niche areas in the sports world and you never know what’s going to turn into the perfect thing for you.”
Although he has narrowed his preferred field of law, his future plans remain open ended. “While I’m not 100 percent sure it will be in agency, I definitely plan to continue on this career path. Other options include working at the NBA or NFL offices in New York.” Could he be the millennial Jerry Maguire, you ask? “It’s hard not to be inspired by pre-crazy Tom Cruise,” George asserts. Wherever he may land, the future looks promising for this PMHer.