Thursday, February 28, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Cares

Sad News, But A New Opportunity!

We are sad to report the news of one of our favorite charities, Bottomless Closet closing.  However, the 21 years the organization has given the City of Chicago will not go unnoticed.  They will also be leaving their clients in the best of hands.

From the press release...

BC Logo
DFS logo
Services Continue after Closure of Bottomless Closet

I hope this email finds you well. I am emailing to follow-up with some additional information about the Bottomless Closet closure. As you know, Bottomless Closet ceased its operations after 21 year of services to the Chicago community. Since that time, Bottomless Closet has reached an agreement with Dress for Success Worldwide to provide a seamless transition of services.

The mission at Dress for Success Worldwide is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. With our similar mission's, Dress for Success Worldwide will proudly continue providing necessary services to the women of Chicago.

Thank you for everything you've done to support Bottomless Closet during the last 21 years. Your support has been integral to accomplishing our mission, however as you know, our job isn't complete. I encourage you to become a part of the Dress for Success Worldwide - Central community to continue to support Chicagoland women on their path to economic self-sufficiency.

You may join the Dress for Success mailing
list here so you can continue to receive information on the impact you've help make, as well as their programs and upcoming events.

DFS logo

Jude Andrews

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Tops

Top 10 Fashion Tips for Gents

Guys, this post is just for you and your smooth style.  Last week, we highlighted some fab and failed fashions from NBA All-Star Weekend, and as promised, we are keeping the Tuesday Tops dedicated to gentlemen for a second week in a row.

We hope you enjoy these tips and find them helpful.

1.  Stay crisp and clean.

This is a simple one.  All we ask is for you to shave and trim regularly, while also making the iron or steamer your friend.  These 2 things are fundamental, and can often save you from an overall bad look.  Don't let these go by the wayside.  As a throw-in, we'll add the accuracy of the Gillette Mach 3 razor.  The shave is close, and with a moisturizing shaving cream, you'll keep your skin healthy.

2.  Don't buy another white dress shirt.

We already know you have some, but you should maintain this number.  If you need to replace one, go for it, but adding to the collection?  There's no need.  There are other colors out there to match an arsenal of ties--blue, red, black, a variety of pastels.  Trust yourself (and me) to don a shirt other than white sometimes,  We are not discouraging the white shirt all together.  But, if you want to put in just a bit more effort, try a color, forcing you to consider what tie and pocket square to match.  White is easy, colors get attention.
*This is not a suggestion to dress like a kaleidoscope, just to provide variety in your look.

3.  Wear a hat.

Hats are great.  Even if it's your winter skully, wearing a hat can change up your whole look.  Hats make great accessories--without making you feel like you're accessorizing.  Fedoras are definitely a coveted look.  

4. Wear a hoodie.

Ok, this one may come as a surprise, but the hoodie can be worn in a fashionable way.  It can show style, yet comfort.  These days, hoodies come in a variety of styles.  We don't too much condone the oversized look, but an appropriately sized hoodie, representing your favorite team or motto is a nice look for any given Saturday afternoon.  Add nice jeans, and heads will turn--promise.

5.  Understand your shape.

We all come in different shapes and sizes.  This is important to keep in mind when shopping and dressing.  Skinny jeans may be in, but if you have a long torso or short legs, embrace the fact they aren't for you.  But something is.  If you have longer legs, slim-cut jeans are a better option, as are bigger fitting tops.  For the guy with not so long legs, don't fret.  Boot cut or slightly baggy jeans are for you.  They give your legs length and with a nice button-up or cardigan, you can show onlookers just how right your size is.  

Be careful not to get so caught up in the trend that you forget what works best for your body type.  Broad shouldered-gents, be cautions with horizontal stripes.  It's not a no-no, just make sure the stripes give the look you want.  If you're a thicker guy, watch the prints and patterns.  Being flashy is fine, but too much of anything is never good.

6.  Watch your "highlight pieces".

Coordinating your look is great, but please don't go overboard.  You never need to have everything you wear be the same color or shade.  You don't have to overdo the jewelry, hats and matching shoelaces.  You also don't have to draw attention to every part of your outfit.  Pick 1 thing you want to highlight--1:  Your hat, nice shoes, fancy-pocked jeans, smooth gent cardigan, nice printed shirt.  One or the other, guys--never all at the same time.  Every piece you wear can be nice and eye-catching without catching the raised eyebrow.  Let's keep it simple and save the Christmas trees for December.

7.  Be confident.
If you feel good, you'll send the message to others, too. Having "swag" is all about what you project when you dress. If sunglasses seal your look for you, wear them.  If you like glasses just for style and not vision aides, rock them.  Do what makes you feel best.

8.  Chose fit over cost.
Wearing pricey brands can have its advantages, particularly if the quality meets the price.  However, there are quality clothes at lower price points.  Don't be afraid to give them a try.  Be careful being too cheap, though.  You do get what you pay for.  You may want to consult a seasoned shopper's help on this one. 

It's also important to have timeless pieces--a great watch, chain, jacket, etc.  Having timeless pieces always keeps you fashionable, no matter what the current trend is.  Some things never go out of style and investing in a timeless piece can save you dollars in between.  

9.  Don't wear a uniform.
We're not talking law enforcement or military, here.  We mean rocking the same look all the time.  People should not expect to see you in the same thing, different color or prints, all the time.  Know what looks good on you, but find a few things to choose from. 

10.  Take a page from the book of other guys.
Some guys are more fashion conscious than others.  Some are on top of every trend, and others just want to look nice without the worry.  If you know a guy, famous or not, who seems to be right on target, follow his lead.  You gents can help each other more than you know.

Hopefully these tips are helpful as you dress for day, night, weekday, and weekend.  If not--just let us know and ask!

Guys, don't forget to check out these men's fashion tips for the warm's coming.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

Law Schools Do It Better--

From Fordham's Fashion Law Institute, to the Fashion Law Society at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, law students are pushing the fashion law niche forward.  

Check out these great events sponsored by law students and mark your calendars!

The IP Panel-Monday, February 25, 2013, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (brief reception to follow), Howard University School of Law, 2900 Van Ness Street NW, Washington, DC.

The IP panel will consist of the following topics:  (1) Copyright – The IDPA and beyond (Is this piece of legislation just aesthetically functional?); (2) Patents – Lululemon and the controversial yoga pant; and (3) Trademarks and beyond (are Trademarks still the best way to protect luxury fashion brands?).  Our moderator will ask each panelist specific questions regarding how their brands have been affected by these legal issues.  This is a FREE event.
The In-House Counsel Panel-Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (brief reception to follow), Howard University School of Law, 2900 Van Ness Street NW, Washington, DC.
The In-House Counsel panel will consist of the following topics:  (1) AT&T v. Concepcion; (2) New developments with FCPA; and (3) Mexican labor issues (or Bangladesh labor impasse).  Moderated by Ms. Hilary Jochmans, Esq.  This is a FREE event.
The Keynote Address-Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (brief reception to follow), Howard University School of Law, 2900 Van Ness Street NW, Washington, DC.
FLW is honored to have Mr. Harley Lewin, Esq. serve as the Keynote Speaker for FLW 2013!  Mr. Lewin is General Counsel for Christian Louboutin and represented the luxury fashion house in arguably the most groundbreaking fashion law case of recent times – the Louboutin v. YSL red bottom trademark case This is a FREE event.
The Fashion Show: Intelligent Design-Friday, March 1, 2013, 8 p.m.  to 9:30 p.m., Union Market, 1309 5th Street NE

For more on Fashion Law Week, click here!

Featured speakers include:  Shelly Whitehead, Esq., Shara Harris, Esq., Mariessa Terrell, Esq., Ashlee Froese, Esq., Roberto Frias, Esq., and many more...including yours truly!

Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Tops

Top 6 Fashion Statements from NBA All-Star Weekend!

Gents!  You know we always have you in mind, so this week and next, we'll be dedicating the Tuesday Tops to you.  Today, we'll be looking at some of the fashions from All-Star Weekend.  We'll let you know what we think and you can make note if you like.  Some of these are good....others, not so much.

Next week, we'll be giving tips to keep you looking smooth and eye-catching.


1.  The Jerseys
This is a simple one.  Adidas did a nice job with the jerseys.  They were nicely designed and captured the spirit of the host city--Houston, which is usually the case with All-Star uniforms.

But, now to the real fashion...

2. Casuals
Shannon Brown looked nice in his cardigan and t-shirt.  Guys, this is a great style for any weekend when you want to be relaxed, yet still show you have style.  The shades and chain were nice subtle choices.  What more would we expect from a Chicago-area native!?
 The stars of the Heat were fashionable in their t-shirts and glasses.  Whether you need them to see or not, glasses are nice fashion statements to change up your look here and there.  Graphic tees are always good choices for guys going casual.  Of course make sure they're ironed.

Kobe kept it classic casual with a denim jacket.  You typically can't go wrong with long as it's not part of a full outfit.  Sure, they come and go, but all denim outfits are not particularly in style these days.  They'll be back, but be sure for now, you're just rocking a jacket with pants that aren't exact matches.  It sounds bad, but trust us on this one.  If the jean outfit is your thing, be patient--it'll be back in style.  

2.  Sporty
John Wall rocked his Adidas well in this red and black sweat jacket.  While debuting his newest shoe, he kept up with the athletic theme of the weekend.  Clothes by your sponsor are never a bad idea.  

3.  Sideline Scenes
The former Oklahoma City Thunder trio made for an interesting sideline scene.  The 2 remaining Thunder, Westbrook(l) and Durant(r) are always good for pushing the envelop in fashion.  Durant loves glasses and Westbrook loves prints.  All-Star Weekend was no different.  Although James Harden (c) is now a Houston Rocket, he remains synched with his former teammates in being fashionable hoopers.
All of the gents put nice looks together here.  Despite prints sometimes being tough to pull off, Westbrook was able to do it, but guys you have to be careful with this.  KD's hat was a nice touch, and Harden in the vest was pretty smooth. 

The more seasoned All-Stars were well-dressed on the sidelines, too.  Jackets are always a safe choice, and Melo went edgy with the double-breasted selection.  This is another to be careful about, but if you can pull off the throwback look--with confidence--go for it!  D-Wade is usually pretty fashion savvy.  His printed shirt and tux-inspired jacket were good choices for All-Star Saturday night.  LeBron was one of many donning leather sleeves.  I'd imagine the temperature was pretty balanced at the arena.  He looked nice in the shirt, but gents--be careful with leather sleeves.  There's a time and a place.  Where and when you'll sweat isn't one of them.  

4. Swanky Suits
Most of the All-Stars wore their suits well.  Of course we have to highlight the fashion of our hometown favorites, Chicago Bulls Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.  Both guys wore their personalities.  Lu was dapper in the classic suit and Chicago red tie.  It was a nice complement to his blue shirt and socks.   Joakim is a bit edgier, and showed it in his colored pants and shirt. 

Kevin Durant was smooth in his Longhorn colors and prints.  Possibly pulling from his college days in Texas, KD rocked this suit sharply.  Printed jackets are also something to be cautious about.  However, if you play the colors well and don't go overboard, you can get it done.  He did.
 More Westbrook and Harden.  Well, Harden looks great in his blue selection.  We'll continue to leave the beard alone, but as far as his attire, he again won with this selection for the Celebrity Game on Saturday night.  We will address this Westbrook number in a bit...

 MJ was on deck celebrating his 50th birthday.  Despite some of the questionable fashion choices he's made in the past, this was a nice one for the birthday boy.  Like KD above, the plaid jacket worked out.  

 Both Stephan Curry and Dennis Scott looked good on Sunday night.  3-D is usually pretty smooth with his look, and it appears the young star is not too far behind.  The vest  with the shirt and tie were good choices. 

 We're used to seeing Spike in Knicks gear, but he took it up a level this weekend.  The color combination and hat were nice.  This is a look to be replicated, gents.  

5.  No!
These selections just shouldn't have been done.  We're not surprised, considering who made the choices, but just because they've always done it doesn't make it right.
Gents, these options are no-nos!

Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins really took it there with this lemon-lime inspired suit.  Taking a fashion risk is ok, but consider the risk before you take it.  Clearly Darryl was looking to make a statement.  He did.  You shouldn't.  

No shock here.  TNT courtside reporter Craig Sager is known for wearing flamboyant suits.  Gentlemen, just because other people do it doesn't make it ok.  This satin wallpaper look just wasn't a good idea.  Do not follow Craig's lead.  
Surely KG agrees...

 Now back to the Westbrook suit from the Celebrity game.  As you saw above, it appeared Russell had done the right thing.  Now seeing the entire suit, we have to dissent.  Animal printed pants are just not a good idea, guys.  It's not what you want. I don't think we need to explain this one.  You can see for yourself.

 6.  Class
There's never any explanation needed for a classic look.  Like the true legend he is, Bill Russell gave us a distinguished look.  Nothing too flashy, but definitely a timeless look for any occasion. Take note young fellas.

We hope these pics were not only entertaining, but informative.  We'll be back next week with in-depth tips on men's style.

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 18, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

Is there a Place for Fashion Law in the Caribbean?

By Contributing Editor, Sonya Stewart

Fashion Law’s place within the legal field cannot be denied. As Entertainment Law came into its own by way of a compilation of several legal disciplines; so too has Fashion Law as the cultural and economic importance of the fashion industry increases on a daily basis. Now classified as a movement in the legal arena, Fashion Law has been gracing law firms, court rooms and fashion houses with its presence in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America... but what about the Caribbean?

Susan Scafidi, the first professor to ever offer a course in Fashion Law tells us that -as long as there have been people making clothes, there have been occasions to consult lawyers[1]- then there is no denying that as the fashion and apparel industry accounts for 4% of the Global GDP (a sum in excess of 1 trillion per year)[2]; an industry of this size would undoubtedly engender reoccurring legal problems and concerns.

So the next step would be to examine the Caribbean’s fashion industry. Is there a fashion industry in the Caribbean? Is this industry such that would propel the need for a legal discipline in its own right to combat the peculiar challenges of fashion entities-these entities being fashion houses, designers, modeling agencies, models, department stores and anyone working within the apparel and accessories industry?

Suffice it to say, the Caribbean does have a fashion industry, where "according to rough estimates, the Caribbean Fashion Industry — English, French, Spanish and Dutch — is conservatively worth J$10 billion ($111.1million USD) per year. Given the relative infancy and underdevelopment of the regional industry, one could assume a value of 10 times this amount, once fully developed[3]” as noted by Kingsley Cooper, Chairman of the Caribbean Fashion Industry Association, CEO of Pulse Models and mastermind behind Caribbean Fashion Week.

In 2007, deputy Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Motley spoke of the importance of the fashion industry to Barbados’ development: “I am confident that fashion could provide an export base for Barbados…we have the wisdom of investing in Intellectual Property and the rewards it offers”[4].

With such an achievement and promising future, there is no doubt that there are and will be many legal issues surrounding Caribbean fashion. In fact, there are a myriad of examples of intellectual property issues in Caribbean fashion (of which I’ll give an example) which a learned fashion law student, fashion blogger and fashion lawyer knows is only one of the basic pillars of fashion law. To the fashion law virgin, the discipline also entails business and finance [advertising law, commercial sales, real estate law (or real property/land law as classified in the Caribbean)] international trade and government regulations (customs, employment law, safety and sustainability) and customer culture and civil rights[5].

Take for example, in 2011 when Caribbean International Fashion Week appropriated Pulse’s Caribbean Fashion Week’s logo in advertisements for the event to be held the same week as the Caribbean event and even started off using the name “Caribbean Fashion Week”[6]. Luckily CFW’s creator, Kingsley Cooper, an attorney at law; quickly got an injunction from a court to stop the misappropriation of the Caribbean event.

The popularity of Pulse’s yearly staging of CFW cannot be disputed as well. In June 2012, a total of 51 collections from 50 designers took to the runway in Kingston (Jamaica), the fashion capital of the Caribbean over a four day period. Designers came from Barbados, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad & Tobago, Belize, Suriname, The Dominican Republic as well as from the UK and US.  

Within the fashion apparel academic sphere as well, we have seen the emergence of the importance of legal knowledge related to the business of fashion. The Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design (CAFD) at the University of Trinidad & Tobago’s (which offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design) co-program leader and fashion management coordinator Lisa Sinanan exclaims that “it’s a billion-dollar industry and it can be dog-eat-dog as well. You have to be able to know how to ensure that your designs are not stolen, how to protect yourself. That is why we have taught the students about business law, intellectual property rights and copyrights”[7].

An extrapolation of the figures related to the Caribbean fashion industry illustrates that there is more than a place for Fashion Law in the Caribbean. I say the practice of Fashion Law already exists in the Caribbean by an extension of legal representation for fashion clients; but its recognition as a distinctive field in Commonwealth Caribbean law does not exist, at least not yet (but that’s just my opinion).

There has to be acceptance by the Commonwealth Caribbean legal fraternity for lawyers in the region to consider themselves “fashion lawyers”. As beautifully stated by author and Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Guillermo Jimenez “tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars…can turn on the interpretation of the wording in a fashion contract; lawyers, judges, and juries now need to understand what fashion is and how the industry operates. Fashion companies now require the very finest legal counsel”[8].

With that we can accept that as the Caribbean fashion industry grows, so too will the need for Commonwealth Caribbean judges, juries and lawyers to understand the uniqueness of Caribbean fashion. It is fair to accept that fashion law has a place in the Caribbean. The region must now develop legal tools to facilitate the Caribbean fashion industry as every business needs legal support so why not the business of Caribbean fashion?

[1] Fashion Law
[2] Michael Flanagan How Retailers Source Apparel, Just-Style. Jan 2005
[3] Jamaica Observer “Regional fashion industry worth $10 billion a year — Cooper” June 2012

[5] Susan Scafidi Flat Fashion Law! The Launch of a Label-And a New Branch of Law. Jan 2012
[8] Jimenez & Kolsun. Fashion Law: A Guide for Designers, Fashion Executives and Attorneys Fashion Law: Overview of a New Legal Discipline

Thursday, February 14, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Law

Trouble with Trade Secrets?

In this post from April 2012, we gave you a rundown on trade secrets, and their place in fashion law, technology, and intellectual property in general.  Today, we are giving you the rubric for consideration, when you feel like your brand’s secrets may have been shared.

First, you have to be sure you actually have a trade secret.  To be considered a trade secret, your process or strategy must actually be a secret, and something setting your product apart from others.  It should not be obvious, because if it is, others would easily be able to detect it and use it—negating the secrecy. Great examples are the special sauce on the Big Mac, the secret ingredient in Coca-Cola, or a washing/treating method for fabrics.

Further, you have to validate things like:

     -Financial value
       -What was done to protect the secret and whether it was reasonable?
       -Were time and money spent on development of the secret, and keeping it private?

Next, you must determine what law is applicable.  This will be based on either the state your company is housed, or the state where the compromise took place. 

Once you’ve figured these things out, the rest will be in the hands of an attorney.  They should be looking to find out whether there was an unfair head start for the defendant to steal your secret and what the equities are.  The 2 of you will also have to determine what kind of relief you’d like to receive; an injunction stopping the defendant from using your secret, damages for their unauthorized use, or both.  The considerations above will help you figure this one out.

In addition to the trade secret-based matters, you will also have to consider things like employment contracts, policies, and conflict of laws materials.  Did you have your employees sign an agreement stating they would keep the secrets private?  Did they know the secret was actually a secret?  Have you shared disciplinary procedures with them for violating your policies?  Do you know who had a hand in sharing the secret?  And finally, are the laws different in the state where the infringement occurred—if it’s a different state than yours?

Surely some of these things are totally for the lawyer to figure out.  However, you should always have as much knowledge on protecting your brand as possible.  The more you know, the safer your brand and products will be.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Introduces

Sonya Stewart!

We are so excited to introduce our newest Contributing Editor, Sonya Stewart.  Sonya is a native of Jamaica, preparing to receive her LLB from the University of the West Indies. She not only does freelance writing, but modeling as well.  

As perfect fits for this lifestyle blog, Sonya's interests include intellectual property, fashion law, teachings on the Law of Attraction, Pilates, traveling & discovering Jamaica, Reggae, Dubstep and House music, and learning French & Italian.  Upon completing her LLB, she aspires to become a renowned fashion lawyer in a fashion capital (NY, LA, London, Milan, Paris); and contribute to the development of fashion law in Jamaica, as well as in the legal and fashion curriculum of educational institutions.  See--told you guys you'd love her!  

Look out for posts by Sonya coming soon, but for now, enjoy this interesting fact about her:  She placed in the Top 10 of the Miss Jamaica Universe 2012 pageant and was awarded the title of "Miss Congeniality".

You can also check her out on Twitter: @sonloray

Welcome Sonya!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Tops

Top 4 Myths About Relaxed and Natural Hair--

Lately, there have been many disputes about whether natural hair is better than relaxed hair, which is healthier, and which provides for maximum growth.  Well, hopefully this helps settle the score.

1. Natural hair automatically means healthy.  
This just simply isn't true.  Often, the message comes across of natural hair being the route to healthy hair, and in fact, any hair--natural, relaxed, or treated by any other chemical can be healthy--or not.  Solely going natural will not save your hair from breaking, shedding, or speed up it's growth.

2.  Relaxed hair is not healthy.
This, also is false.  Relaxed hair does compromise the moisture hair needs to be healthy.  Many factors can do this to hair in general.  However, having a relaxer does not mean you are damaging your hair.  What it means is, you have to add back the moisture you've compromised.  It's not a big deal, and the "creamy crack" is not a setup for unhealthy locks.

3.  Relaxed hair is less work than natural hair.
Again, a falsehood.  What many believe is, with all the tricks and tips out there for natural hair, relaxed hair is an easy way out; less work and possibly better hair health.  The truth is, both relaxed and natural hair require a great deal of work, not just on the styling end, but care-wise as well.  Regular relaxers is hardly enough to keep the hair healthy.  Healthy hair requires effort.

4.  Relaxed and natural hair are nothing alike.
This is far from the truth as well.  Both require restoring moisture, conditioning, and regular trims to keep ends healthy.  Both relaxed and natural hair require professional assistance--whether from a professional stylist or tips online from someone who shows they are knowledgeable and whom you can trust.  Both states of hair need constant attention--not always time-wise, but definitely in thought.  You have to be considerate of what you are doing to your hair; how you treat and style it each day, and what products you use. 

5.  Hair growth is based on 1 or the other.
Hair growth is based on conditioning, protein, and consistent care of your hair--not being "relaxed" or "natural".  Hair grows in spurts throughout your life and also based on things like genetics, diet, and daily care.  If you treat your hair right, in whatever state is best for you, you will have the length you want--whatever it may be.

Our main point here is 1) take good care of your hair.  There are many ways to do it, just find out which is best for you, and 2) be comfortable in what you like.  Do not except general or widely accepted standards or pressures of beauty.  Do what you like, but do it well.  Relaxed, natural, extensions--just take care of your hair and wear it however makes you feel best.

To keep conscious of what to do to, and for your hair, check out:

Foods for healthy hair
Products for healthy hair
Tips for healthy relaxed hair

And some of our favorite hair blogs...
Curly Nikki
Black Girl Long Hair

For ladies of color, we also recommend The Science of Black Hair, to really get an understanding of what's going on on your head.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Spotlights

Michael McCann - Sports Lawyer, Dedicated Professor--

Just last week, I had the joy of chatting with Michael McCann. I came across his work some time ago, as my passion for sports law is no secret.  Neither is his.  Michael is a lawyer and legal analyst for Sports Illustrated.  He is frequently on NBATV, and always on top of the legal issues impacting some of our favorite pastimes.  In the midst of all this, he is a law professor, transitioning from the University of Vermont Law School, to the University of New Hampshire, where he will lead the launch of the Sports & Entertainment Law Institute.  

I told him I thought we were like kindred spirits, as we have approached niche fields of law in similar ways--through writing and finding atypical ways to be a part of what we love.  I've been so excited to share this interview with you goes:

1.  When did you know you wanted to be an attorney?  Did you always want to do sports law?
My older sisters are attorneys, so I was a bit motivated to consider it.  I was looking for job after college, then began working for District Attorney Tom Reilly.  I got interested and thought it would be rewarding.  There are so many unique fact patterns in doing the work.  

I went to University of Virginia for law school and they had recently started their Sports Law Journal.  Being a sports fan, it got me interested.  I took Donald Dell's class (sports agent of greats like Arthur Ashe and Michael Jordan). The topics were interesting and enjoyable.  Being a Celtics fan and recognizing they were pretty bad in the 1990s, I became knowledgable about the NBA draft.   Dick Vitale didn't like players making jump from high school.  I found it was actually a successful age group, and through research, found no correlation between age and getting into trouble or other issues.  I did research in opposition to the legue entry age limit, though it was later implemented. An NFL lawyer saw my research note on Westlaw, and asked me to join their legal team in the Maurice Clarett age eligibility case (Clarett v. NFL, 369 F.3d 124 (2nd Cir. 2004)).  I ultimately willed my way into the field.

2.  What spurred the creation of the Blue Chips program?
We started the Sports Law Institute at Vermont Law School as a hands on training-ground for students.  They do exercises, have to negotiate against and on behalf of the Patriots in a simulation.  It's important students see actual law and real time experiences. The focus on taking exams in law school v. actual practice is useful, but real world activites and experience are so important. A Blue Chips-like program will be at UNH.  The practical experiences fit things together.

3. Do you play any sports?
I played tennis growing up; played basketball.  I do some running, but nothing to the professional level.

4.  What inspires the work you do?
I really try to be thorough. I want to be as accurate, substantive, and objective as possible; analyze in a neutral light.  It's important to look at both sides.  From my teaching experience and helping students see both sides, I continue to find being timely is important.  It takes work to know what's going on, especially in this internet-driven world.  You have to stay on top of things.  People want information quickly. 

5.  What will set the UNH Institute apart from others?
Its greatest strength is the IP program.  It is a top ranked program with strong tradition; sports and entertainment is a great fit.  The Institute matches up with copyright, trademark, licensing--which is critical in sports equipment and fashion/apparel connected issues.

The new affiliation with UNH merging with the Franklin Pierce Law Center is a great opportunity. UNH has a strong background in business and a strong athletic program--being alma mater to 20 NFL players. I'm impressed by the students, many who have science and engineering backgrounds, which is popular in IP law.  We have a great future ahead.

6.  What else is going on in your life in addition to teaching and analyzing sports law?
I got married last year, so that's been great.  I'm continuing to work with Sports Illustrated, ensuring I stay on top of the biggest issues of the day.  Changing school is focal point of my professional life.  It's exciting, but challenging as well.  I'm looking forward to helping students obtain meaningful opportunities and find experience.  It's exciting to start something special.

7.  How do you want to be recognized in the industry?
I want to be regarded as a hard worker, timely and accurate. I want to be someone who can be relied on for timely and accurate analysis of sports and entertainment law issues.  The best brand is someone who helps students get internships, jobs, and real world skills.  My primary job is teacher.  My most important brand is what my students think of me.

8.  Which sport is your favorite to cover?
Probably the NBA.  I write about it the most.  It's an interesting league with charismatic people, great managers and owners.  There's a great narrative there.  But all the leagues have interesting legal issues.  Every sport has its fair share of really intriguing issues.

9. What advice would you give to law students as well as current attorneys looking to work in sports law?
You don't have to be wealthy, connected, or invested, just interested.  The internet allows for overcoming lack of contacts, just put yourself out there and show your interest  Work hard.   

10.  What was the moment or experience you feel you broke into the sports law industry?
I'd say it was 2 years out of law school, when I had the phenomenal opportunity to be part of a national case (Clarett).   Believing in the athelete and not agreeing with league rule--although ultimately losing--it was a great learning experience.   Also, there were some Sports Illustrated pieces I wrote about with David Epstein.  We did strong investigative research, uncovered some unreported, relevant information.  It was great to work with David.

11.  Do you ever counsel sport agents?  Consider becoming one?
I don't formally counsel.  I have friends in the industry and give informal advice, but not as a lawyer--not at this point in time.  I just enjoy teaching, I enjoy journalism.  Both are careers I love, so no desire to shift gears anytime soon.  I still do the blog.

12.  What other areas of law do you work in?
A little in related fields like employment, antitrust, criminal law, torts--mostly in the universe of sports and entertainment.  I've written about food labels/nutritional labeling earlier in my career.  

13.  Tell me 3 traits of a great sports lawyer
Preparation. Be completely prepared.  Do your best to see what the other side will argue, not taking things for granted or being overly optimistic.  Have a sense of media relations, especially if you're working for an athlete or team the media is interested in.  Learn communications. Journalism experience is critical, because there's so much to write about.  
Be creative.  Sports law is still an untapped field with many legal issues not resolved.  Being creative and writing can make all the difference in the world.  Don't be discouraged; the best attorneys think creatively and constructively.

This interview was quite a treat, and I hope you guys think so, too.  The dedication he has to his students and having a hand in ensuring future lawyers are well equipped is unmatched.  How lucky are the students at Vermont and UNH!?

To keep up with Michael and all he has going on, be sure to check out the Sports Law Blog and follow him on Twitter.

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