In the first post of our BC Law Student Org Spotlight Series, Christopher “Henry” Booth and Joe Prisco tell us what the Sports and Entertainment Law Society is all about, how they built this formerly dormant organization back up from scratch while navigating their 1L year, and the merits of being student leaders in law school.
Tell us your year in school, and post-grad plans.
Henry Booth: I’m a 2L from Boston, Massachusetts. Post-grad plans? Holland and Knight in their sports practice next summer; if all goes well I hope I’ll be there full-time. Ideally I’ll be working with teams, players, and leagues as well with the larger sports infrastructure.
Joe Prisco: I’m a 2L who hails from Westchester New York, and my post-grad plan is to run the Prisco-Booth sports agency!
(Fun fact: Both of them are the captains of their section’s softball team)
Can you give me a quick rundown of what your org is all about?
Henry: Joe and I re-started this group last year. We had great engagement from some of our friends about building an organization that really supported students’ interests in the larger sports and entertainment environment industry. We focus on the legal principles that underpin sports and entertainment, what sorts of issues come up for players, and what concerns they may have.
We also focus on bringing people in as speakers who explain to us what they do. We discuss and think about what it is like to work in sports and entertainment.
We try to emphasize that there is no sports law; it’s just a hybrid of negotiations, contracts, intellectual property rights, antitrust, and the same applies for entertainment. It’s really just a collection of the various principles. We’ve tried to make it a lot more social; we’ve been to Celtics games, we’re going to the Red Sox game next week, and we’re trying to do other social events this year. We want to focus on making sure that the group knows that people to the left and right of them will be resources for them.
Shang: I didn’t know there is no real sports law!
Henry: In reality, it’s a collection of transactional principles, like M&A. For example, when professional teams are getting bought, it’s really M&A lawyers. The clients and counterparties are exciting because they’re players or teams, but you have to be a good lawyer to be a sports lawyer. We don’t want people to be misguided by it sounding glamorous, because this does require a good understanding of the legal side of things.
Why did you choose to lead Sports and Entertainment?
Joe: Henry touched on it already, but we were both college athletes with a passion for sports and an interest in working in that area long term. When we got here as 1Ls we wanted to join the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, but it no longer existed. We saw that as an opportunity to build it from scratch, and form the community we wanted.
Henry: We met at the BBQ on the first day and stood in line together–which was a coincidence in itself since our class was so huge–and we just so happened to be the wannabe sports agents of the class. Flash forward to day three, we were hoping to see the Sports and Entertainment Law Society at the org fair, but it didn’t exist–even though it was on the website! So we put our heads together and said, “let’s run it our way.” Our backgrounds and aspirations made the hard administrative stuff worth it, such as putting together an executive board, getting speakers to come in…we had to consider how much we had left over from the last time this org was active: what budget do we have, how much does pizza cost, how many people are coming to our events.
Joe: Doing all that on top of 1L is something we’re very proud of!
Henry: I think it’s worth mentioning that our executive board is very equipped; we are very lucky to have E-Board members who stepped up into roles like director of programming, communications, entertainment chair, VP. We got people who were willing to be involved. It’s not just Joe and me; it’s this whole group and it speaks to the collaborative environment we are trying to foster. Everyone has a role and everyone’s a part of the team; I know team is overused in sports but it’s true for us!
What is your favorite event?
Joe: I’m going to go with an event we’re trying to do in the spring; we’re looking at arbitration competitions. We’d put together a couple of teams and they’ll represent a hypothetical player in an arbitration settlement. It would be a great opportunity for people interested in arbitration.
Henry: My favorite event is actually not sports related, it’s one of our entertainment events. Praise and Nancy, two members of our E-Board, helped organize an event with Moses Ingram (the actress on Queen’s Gambit) and Sebastian Kole (Praise’s brother who is a singer-songwriter and record producer for Grammy-winning artists) and we did a panel with both of them. What I loved about the event is that we got to hear from the talent themselves; just hearing from the lawyers’ perspective is a one-sided street. We want to hear from the people we will be representing. Hearing Moses talk about her contractual disputes and movie contracts, what takes priority, and then hearing from Sebastian about licensing issues from the music production side, what happens when you use samples and you want creative liberty…there are so many complicated issues where you wouldn’t have the human element without the talents themselves. It was really remarkable.
I know you touched upon this a little before when you were speaking of building the org from scratch, but what have been some difficulties in leading your org and how did you overcome them?
Joe: There haven’t been too many difficulties. In the beginning, I’d say it was mostly just garnering interest and getting a following from students, getting our name out there…mostly just getting up and running.
Henry: Interest is something we definitely want; orgs thrive on people who come to events and it inspires others to come. Also since Joe and I have been presidents since the first year, we had no 3L mentors in the organization. We had to rely on our own leadership, organization, and communication. A challenge would definitely be that when something new comes up, it truly is new–something no one in our group has dealt with before. We’re trying to have section reps this year. What does that look like, what role will they have, how do we decide? How do we make sure they’re the right people? All of these things, we are trying to figure out as an E-Board. What others have had for years, we’re trying to figure out. It’s a lot of thinking on the fly, and a lot of strategic problem-solving in the moment.
Would you recommend being in a leadership position for law students?
Joe: One hundred percent, especially if you’re in a group that focuses on what you want to do long term. It’s a great way to make connections and meet people that will last throughout your professional career.
Henry: I agree. Being in a leadership position forces you to take responsibility. You’re responsible for the success of the program and peoples’ enjoyment depends on the work you put in. There will be moments where people rely on us as lawyers, family members–you’re responsible for something larger than yourself, so getting practice with that in a low-risk environment is great. It’s not like there’s a multi-billion dollar deal where something terrible would happen if we screwed it up. But we recognize we have a responsibility to the BC law community and students who come to our events. As co-presidents, we have a responsibility to the E-board and making sure everything stays on track. We hope to create a cyclical air of commitment of people wanting to stay involved and engaged because of the energy we bring.
We get to really mold and shape this group how we want to. There are really no limits (besides financial) to what we want to do. If we want to go to the Red Sox, we can–if we want to go to the Draftkings in-person tour, we can. These are all things we can put together because we thought it was a good idea. There’s something validating about being able to build and mold something that will hopefully continue on after our leadership team graduates.
Do you have any members you want to give a shout out to? 😀
Henry: Our whole E-Board! They’re remarkable; I say to Joe all the time we couldn’t do this without them. Our Vice President Alyssa Williams; Director of Programming Alisha Wright; Director of Communications, Brogan Tyrer; Social Media Director Nancy Kyei; Entertainment Chair Praise Tillman. This group has been with us since the beginning. Alisha and Nancy had already expressed an interest and we merged our interests together back in September of 1L. It takes a village and we’re proud of the one we have!
Seung Hye (Shang) Yang is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at email@example.com.