Members of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society share a passion for exploring the intersection between athletics and the law.
The graduate student organization—founded in 1998 by Gabe Feldman, Trinity ‘95, Law ‘99 and chartered by the Duke Bar Association—brings students of all years at the School of Law together. The members discuss current events, network with professionals and host speeches by prominent individuals, including one next week featuring Jay Bilas.
“[The society is] both a vehicle for encouraging intellectual and professional interchange… and has produced high quality events that remind the students of the sorts of things that they are able to accomplish,” wrote Paul Haagen, professor of law and faculty advisor to the society, in an email Tuesday.
Abe Benavides, co-president of the society and a third-year law student, said the organization aims to connect students with the stories of professionals.
“[It aims to bring] practicing attorneys and executives from the sports and entertainment industries to campus in order to share their experiences,” he wrote in an email Tuesday.
The organization’s other co-president, Eric Lauritsen—also a third-year law student—added that members’ primary objective is to “enrich [their] understanding of these fields,” in an email Tuesday.
Benavides noted that the “camaraderie and high level of enthusiasm” sets the Sports and Entertainment Law Society apart from other. He added that members are passionate and eager to enhance the organization by planning events and “punch[ing] the clock” when necessary.
Both leaders said they were excited to have Jay Bilas visiting campus next week. Bilas, Trinity ‘86, Law ‘92—an ESPN analyst and attorney—will join the society’s members next Monday, for a lunchtime discussion on the amateurism model in college sports.
The organization hosts five to six lunch talks each year and holds biweekly meetings.
The society also organizes an annual day-long symposium, which includes panel discussions, a network reception and presentations regarding key issues within the industry. One current topic of interest, for example, is the Ed O’Bannon case involving the NCAA and student athletes. This particular lawsuit and its potential consequences for college sports and the payment of college athletes will be discussed during the upcoming symposium in January.
Having advised athletes for nearly 25 years, he noted the broader importance of sports. In the past, Haagen has served as a consultant to amateur, professional and Olympic athletes, national sports federations, professional sports teams and team owners.
“Sport is a crucible for testing social and legal issues,” Haagen said.
Although the organization is geared towards business and law students, Haagen emphasized that it, “more generally is an asset for the entire community.”
The group faces some limitations, though. Benavides and Lauritsen noted the challenges of travel budgets and outreach as obstacles to bringing desirable professionals to visit.
Lauritsen added that if the organization could have a superpower, he would want it to be able to magnetically a “attract anyone [they] wanted to campus.”