Representing the Professional Athlete: The Importance of Personal Counsel

As a former sports agent, I am often asked what it takes to become an agent. Many people assume you have to have a law degree, but while being a licensed attorney or having a law degree would be helpful, they are not prerequisites. Continue reading Representing the Professional Athlete: The Importance of Personal Counsel

Lessons of March Madness as Applied to the Real World

Photo of BasketballCabulous plays, amazing game-ending shots, stifling defense, dominating offense, collaborative teamwork. We have just observed another installment of March Madness.

Whether you are a die-hard sports fan, a casual observer or a novice, it is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and drama of March Madness. As you watch your favorite team win or lose, root for the underdog or just enjoy the overall experience of the tournament, we can all learn from the various attributes and elements of what it takes for each team to get the opportunity to participate on the biggest stage of college basketball.

Success is not easy and does not happen overnight. The teams that had the opportunity to participate in March Madness share many of the same attributes and characteristics, in varying degrees.

These attributes and characteristics can lead to success in any endeavor, job or profession, including the practice of law, and include the following:

Preparation (individually and as a team). There is a saying that athletes develop individually in the off-season, and teams improve during the season. Preparation is achieved through continuing improvement of your skills, practice and repetition.

Similarly, as an attorney, you need to continuously prepare to be successful. Preparation may be through participation in continuing legal education, mentoring or being mentored, or practice and preparation in advance of your big trial, transaction, meeting, or other project or presentation. This preparation must occur prior to your time to shine.

Discipline. Success in sports requires a certain level of discipline: discipline to work hard, to prepare, to practice (especially on your own when no one is watching); discipline to do what it takes to achieve your goals, and thereby success. This discipline is equally necessary to realize your goals and success in any role, job or profession.

Experience. Experience can have a direct correlation to the level of success achieved by a basketball team. Experience is essential to understanding what it takes to compete and be successful at the highest levels. Seniors (in this era of “one and done”) provide crucial mentoring and leadership, on and off the floor, to the younger phenoms who must learn quickly for a team to achieve success.

To appreciate the value of experience, you need not look any further than the Wolverines and Spartans this season. Due to injuries, MSU had no seniors actively participating at the end of the season, and U-M relied on such senior leadership to win the Big Ten Tournament title and make a run to the Sweet 16.

Experience is equally valuable and important in any job setting, including the legal profession. Experienced attorneys understand what it takes to be successful in the practice of law in general, and with regard to success in the courtroom, transaction, or in any other legal setting and discipline. I encourage all senior attorneys to mentor younger attorneys when the opportunity presents itself, after all they represent the future of our profession.

Similarly, I strongly recommend younger attorneys to seek and take advantage of all opportunities to observe and learn from more senior experienced attorneys.

Teamwork. Despite the individual talents of athletes on teams throughout the country, the most successful teams understand the importance of working together, buying into the offensive and defensive philosophies of the program/coach, learning that the achievements and success of the team must be put before the individual accomplishments of the athletes; in other words, each collective group of talent from the coaches, to the starters, to the bench players, to the team managers, and beyond, all must learn to operate, cooperate and perform as part of a TEAM. Every participant must accept his or her role, and everyone has a role to play to contribute to the ultimate success of the team.

Success in any business or profession, including success in the practice of law, requires working collaboratively and successfully with your colleagues, assistants, co-workers, and all those who are part of, and contribute to, your team.

During the next March Madness, as you cheer on your team, or root for the underdog, or just enjoy the talent and teamwork being displayed, and that is required to be a national champion, the pinnacle of sports success, consider how what you observe may be transferred or applied to your own job or profession, and contribute to the success of your company or firm.

Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Mark E. Kellogg

Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Mark E. Kellogg chairs Fraser Trebilcock’s Business and Tax Law practice, and has devoted his nearly 30 years of practice to the needs of family and closely-held businesses and enterprises, business succession, and estate planning. In addition, Mark is a certified public accountant. He is the current President of the Ingham County Bar Association. Contact Mark at 517.377.0890 or

Loss of Value Insurance May Prove Valuable for Athletes

According to CBS Sports, former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith recently collected on a loss of value insurance policy. Smith was projected to be a high first-round NFL draft pick but dropped to the second round, the 34th pick overall, after suffering a devastating knee injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. His policy payout is believed to be $700,000.

A loss of value insurance policy protects an athlete’s future contract value from decreasing below a predetermined amount due to a significant injury or illness suffered during the term of the policy. If an athlete signs a professional contract which falls below that threshold which was a direct result of an injury or illness, the insurance company must pay the difference between the contract’s actual value and the policy’s predetermined value.

CBS Sports reports that Smith’s insurance policy covered him for a loss of value if he did not receive an NFL contract that was at least $7.2 million for four years. The contract Smith eventually signed with the Dallas Cowboys was for $6.495 million over four years. Thus, resulting in the reported $700,000 payout.

Payment for Smith’s loss of value premium was $55,000, according to CBS Sports. How this amount was paid has not been reported. The NCAA allows its member institutions to use the NCAA Student Assistance Fund to purchase a loss of value policy for a student-athlete. In addition, a prospective draft pick may take out a loan against their future earnings to pay the loss of value policy premium.

Prior to Smith, only three players have been able to collect on their loss of value insurance policy after filing a claim. For this reason, the NCAA does not directly offer loss of value insurance. Indeed, merely purchasing the insurance does not guarantee protection and it can often prove extremely difficult to demonstrate an athlete’s drop in the draft was “solely and directly” related to an injury. Keep in mind, all loss of value policies will include exclusions for pre-existing injuries, drug and alcohol use, criminal acts and/or psychological disorders and others. More unpredictable factors can also affect whether a loss of value claim is paid, including off-field issues, poor performance during the season or at pre-draft workouts and changes in professional team’s needs.

Not all professional prospects need loss of value policies. Given the difficulties in proving loss of value claims, only the very highest of draft picks would seem to benefit from purchasing the insurance. For Jaylon Smith, the loss of value policy proved valuable.

To learn more, contact an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock at 517.482.5800 or by clicking here to fill out this form on our website.