Posts Tagged ‘Athlete Advocates’

Jeffrey Dobin

I hoped you enjoyed reading Expert Interview with Jeffrey Dobin: Pursue Your Passion, the first of a two-part mini agent interview series. Jeff’s story is filled with many tidbits that will help you as you look to break down the barrier of entry into the sports industry. From Jeffrey Dobin, Managing Partner at Athlete Advocates, we learned the following:

1. Pursuing advanced educational degrees not only sets you apart from the competition but also gives you more time to gain valuable sports internship experience that may not have been afforded to you during your undergraduate career.

2. Participating in a diversity of internships will give you more exposure to areas of the sports business you are considering for full-time positions.

3. Establishing a solid network of contacts can act as a springboard to launching your own business right out of school.

4. Following up is the key to successful networking. Once you establish a relationship with someone, you have to nurture it.

5. Latching on to a handful of mentors will help you connect all the dots as you look to make your mark in the sports industry. Their insights and advice are invaluable to living out your passion.

6. Treat your internships like interviews. Bring your “A” game every day, and be prepared to out-hustle your peers.

7. Never get comfortable when interning. In other words, avoid distraction at all costs and work as hard and efficiently as possible.

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Jeffrey Dobin

It feels good to be back in action with expert interviews. My conversation with Jeffrey Dobin this week will be the first of a two-part mini agent interview series. Jeff actually reached out to me in July after having come across my blog on LinkedIn. He showed a great deal of empathy towards me by recognizing that he was once in my shoes. Jeff offered to set up an interview with his partner Ryan Scarpa, and I ended up talking with both of them on a conference call. I thank Jeff for his participation in this interview.

Michael Riley (MR): What is your official job title?

Jeffrey Dobin (JD): I am a Managing Partner at Athlete Advocates. My focus is on the different league salary caps as they relate to each team’s positional needs, as well as the intricacies of each league’s collective bargaining agreement. My job is to know them inside-and-out.

MR: Where did you go to college as an undergraduate? What was your major(s)/minor(s)?

JD: I attended Towson University. I double majored in Sports Management and Economics with a Minor in Business.

MR: Did you pursue an advanced degree(s) to further market yourself to the sports industry? If so, please elaborate.

JD: Yes, I received my law degree from New England School of Law. Pursuing advanced degrees in general will only put you at an advantage against your competition. I am now able to benefit my clients by wearing the hat of an attorney, and the hat of a negotiator. It also allows for more time to gain valuable sports internship experience. It may be difficult to build a strong resume during undergraduate studies. I was able to successfully build upon my previous experiences throughout my law school career.

MR: When did you know that you wanted to “break into sports? Was there one specific moment that you can recall when you knew you had to work in sports? Was it an industry you always saw yourself working in? Or did you just kind of fall into it?

JD: In high school, I had an important conversation with my parents regarding the future of my athletic career. I realized that I was never going to play at the professional level, but I could still stay involved in something I was so passionate about. That train of thought led me to my Sports Management and Economics education at Towson. About halfway through my time there, I made the decision to follow the advice of those I had met through networking, and become an attorney. Many of the senior sports executives I spoke to were lawyers, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

MR: How many internships did you participate in before you landed your first job? Where did you intern?

JD: Before I landed my first sports job, I participated in 5 internships. The first was at RealGM, a popular sports website that provides sports information, news, and special salary cap technology to NBA teams. In addition, I spent some time at a law firm to find out what the lifestyle was like. Furthermore, I interned at Global Sports and Entertainment Agency, where I worked mainly on the business side of entertainment but also had exposure to sports. My next internship was with the New York Knicks in Basketball Operations. Ironically, I got to use the RealGM salary cap software, but this time it was from the team side. Finally, I interned at K Sports and Entertainment which later became Altus Marketing and Management.

In general, internships are truly the best way to network. You have to treat them as job interviews. While interning, do not take anything for granted. Word hard and exceed expectations.

MR: How did you land your first job in sports?

JD: My first job in sports is actually the job I currently hold. Ryan Scarpa, a fellow attorney and former Division I athlete, and I started Athlete Advocates following law school. We knew early on that we wanted to start our own business and planned accordingly. With the contacts we both established over the last five years, we felt that setting up our own shop was realistic. Throughout our law school careers, we worked part-time to save up initial capital for the business. After assembling a business plan and becoming members of the NJ and FL Bars, Athlete Advocates was born.

MR: Can you comment on the importance of networking in the sports industry?

JD: Networking is the most important thing you can do in the sports industry, especially if you are a student looking to get your foot in the door. Follow-up is so vital when establishing and maintaining relationships. This will set you apart from your competition.

One thing I would recommend that would help you expand your network is to look into organizations like the Sports Lawyers Association (SLA). They have both national and local events that you can get involved with. Despite the cost to join, I have benefited from the SLA tenfold.

Another idea you could pursue is getting involved with athletes’ charities. Volunteer your time for a good cause, and you might just be pleasantly surprised what doors will open for you.

MR: Can you comment on the importance of mentoring?

JD: Developing relationships with my mentors has really helped connect all the dots. My mentors include Kristian Petesic (Manager of Scouting – NY Knicks), Bobby Marks (Assistant General Manager – NJ Nets), Tommy Sheppard (VP Basketball Administration – Washington Wizards) and Dave Thorpe (ESPN contributor and athletic trainer). Without their guidance, I would not be where I am today. I am fortunate to have mentors that remain accessible, despite their extremely busy and demanding positions. Thankfully, they have provided an abundance of insight and advice that has allowed me to pursue a career I am so passionate about.

MR: Could you take me through a typical day at work? If no day is typical, what did you do yesterday, or what are you doing tomorrow?

JD: Every day is definitely different, but I will give you a flavor for my routine. This morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and hit the gym to get the day started. Then, I responded to emails and reviewed the latest sports and world news. Three sites I visit daily include HoopsHype.com, DraftExpress.com, and NBADraft.net. Now, I am concentrating on scouting college basketball and football players. I continuously update an extensive database with stats and information. I regularly touch base with our clients and often their families as well. With the imminent NBA Lockout, I am searching for off-the-court revenue opportunities for our clients as well as talking to international agents about sending players abroad.

MR: What is the most rewarding aspect about working in sports?

JD: The most rewarding aspect about working in sports for me is watching clients live their dreams. It means even more when you give a player who is often overlooked an opportunity to shine, and he capitalizes on it.

My passion for the business is also very rewarding. My schedule, travel obligations and workload can be very demanding at times. This is not a “nine to five” job and there is always more that can be done. I enjoy every second of it and have as much fun along the way. Honestly, there is nothing else I would rather do.

MR: If you had to give advice to someone looking to break into the sports industry, what would it be?

JD: You have to treat your internships like interviews. Make sure you bring your “A” game every day. Be the first one there and the last to leave. Outwork your peers.

Kristian taught me to “never get comfortable.” Make the most of your opportunity as an intern and work as hard and efficiently as possible. Always conduct yourself as a professional. If you ever get too comfortable with what you are doing, you will hinder your progress.

Make sure you follow-up with people and stay in touch. Otherwise, your new relationships from networking will just fall by the wayside. Try to check in with connections every other month or so just to say hi. Research the company and comment on recent developments to show you are in tune with any company news or progress. Chances are they will be busy, so make your note short and sweet.

MR: What do you do for fun when you are not at the office?

JD: I try to exercise 5 days per week. It is a nice break from work and helps relieve stress. I recently tried out the P90X exercise routine, which has been tough and challenging. In addition, I am training for a half marathon. Traveling is also another perk when not sitting behind a desk. It has afforded me the opportunity to visit places across the country and attend a variety of events and games. Finally, I like to show off my talents in the kitchen by making a mean French toast.