By Jimmy McEntee, J.D. ’18
Thirty-four. That’s how many Harvard Law students participated in the Sports Law Clinic this year. Students worked in all types of sports organizations, such as teams, leagues, agencies, player associations, and athletic departments. The breadth of opportunities available to students is a testament to Professor Peter Carfagna’s vast network in the sports law community. One of the exciting parts of the program is that the number of placements grows each year, as more of Prof. Carfagna’s former students take positions with sports organizations and others learn about the program for the first time.
I was first exposed to working in sports during the summer after my 1L year, when I interned in the Labor Relations Department of Major League Baseball. The following January, I interned in the Legal Department for the National Football League as part of the Sports Law Clinic. I appreciated the opportunity to see the varied types of legal work in league offices and to network with lawyers in those offices.
While I thoroughly enjoyed those experiences, I wanted to see what it was like to work on the team side during my 3L year. I specifically hoped to gain experience working on salary arbitration cases for teams. In Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, select players that qualify for arbitration are eligible to negotiate a raise in salary based on their production. If the team and player cannot reach an agreement regarding a fair salary for the player, the parties then turn to an arbitration hearing to determine that player’s salary for the upcoming season.
After discussing my desire to do salary arbitration work with Prof. Carfagna, he connected me with Daniel Adler ’17, Director of Baseball Operations for the Minnesota Twins, and Don Fishman, Assistant General Manager & Director of Legal Affairs for the Washington Capitals. Through the clinic, I was able to set up placements at the Twins during our J-Term and the Capitals during the spring semester, working on salary arbitration cases with both organizations.
While at the Twins, I prepared research and analysis on a number of the team’s arbitration-eligible players. The salary arbitration process in Major League Baseball takes place in January and February, so the timing of the placement could not have been any better. The experience was incredible, and I loved every minute of my time in Minneapolis. I left the Twins not only with a solid understanding about the salary arbitration process, but also with immense respect for the Twins organization. My placement with the Capitals has just started and I am excited to learn more about the difference in salary arbitration cases between baseball and hockey.
While I am not sure what path my career will take, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work for a number of different sports organizations during law school. There is simply no program like the Sports Law Clinic at Harvard Law School.