By Jonathan Weinberg, J.D. ’17
My continuing clinical placement through the Sports Law Clinic at the Major League Baseball Players Association was an exciting opportunity to gain valuable labor law practice at a vibrant union. I was able to build upon my work and experience last year and help advance the rights of baseball players pursuant to their collective bargaining agreement, while also having fun. I first participated in the Sports Law Clinic because, as a sports fan, I savored the opportunity to work in the industry. But I now further appreciate that baseball is more than a game!
Like last year, I primarily worked on grievance arbitrations (disputes between players and clubs) at the MLBPA; however, unlike last year, I worked on several similar player grievances in lieu of one relatively-unique situation. The series of grievances all arose under the same provision of baseball’s Basic Agreement (collective bargaining agreement.) First, I was tasked with reading and summarizing a series of previous panel arbitrations which served as the relevant legal precedent. Once I developed sufficient background, I reviewed the relevant discovery, files and facts surrounding each of the grievances and developed work product which provided MLBPA attorneys with all of the relevant information they needed to properly represent and advise the player-clients.
For a few of the grievances, I was even able to observe attorney / player-client meetings where attorneys updated player-clients on their grievances based upon my work product. Finally, I authored a comprehensive legal memorandum analyzing the panel precedent and applying it to one of the player-grievances, evaluating the player’s case and making recommendations for next steps. In addition to this work, I was asked to research and summarize case-law developments potentially impacting the union for attorneys, and afforded shadowing opportunities whenever available.
My time at the MLBPA taught me that baseball players have disparate needs and interests, and that even all-stars require zealous representation to protect fundamental interests. While a baseball player union does not typically engender the visual of labor activism, I found that the union labor lawyers treated their role just as that of any other union labor relations attorney, advancing rights for workers who happen to play baseball for a living – though they certainly are fans of the game.
I am excited to apply what I’ve learned through the Sports Law Clinic as a labor and employment attorney. And as a fan, I’ll definitely watch baseball differently.