JBIPL Spotlight: An Interview with Sports Attorney Dan Lust

By: Kyle Tatich

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Dan Lust is an attorney in the New York City Office of Geragos & Geragos. After working for the New York Giants in their PR Department, Dan went on to Fordham Law School where he split his focus between Trial Advocacy and Sports Law. Dan parlays his sports-specific background to his litigation practice, where he represents a wide range of businesses and individuals in matters across the firm’s footprint. 

He presently serves as a Professional Advisor to the Student Sports Law Network, a group he helped create, that is made up of law students interested in sports law from societies around the country. Dan has become a thought leader on all issues at the intersection of Sports & Law. His takes on a broad array of issues can be found on his social media, @SportsLawLust (Twitter/Instagram), or on “Conduct Detrimental,” the #1 Sports Law Podcast that he hosts.

KYLE TATICH: How did you first become interested in the intersection of sports and legal matters? How did that interest evolve in law school and after you became a licensed attorney? 

DAN LUST: I grew up in a family of lawyers, so I was always fascinated in the law because it was always around me, but I was also a sports fan. I went to law school wanting to be either a trial lawyer or work in sports, and I didn’t think I could do both until I was introduced to Fordham Law School’s sports law society.

I realized in law school that working in sports law was not necessarily a real thing. It was practicing law with sports clientele. Once I figured out that being a sports lawyer was dependent upon your contacts within the sports world, I began to build my network.

 

KT: How do you describe “sports law” to those outside of the legal profession? What types of matters do you take on as an attorney?

DL: My own personal definition is that there are very few things, if any, that are actually sports law. I tend to view sports law as being any type of legal area where there is a sports crossover. That could be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson buying the XFL out of bankruptcy. It could be Antonio Brown’s criminal and civil charges impacting his NFL suspensions. Sports law to me is when a substantive area of the law has a newsworthy sports component.

 

KT: What advice do you have for law students with an interest in sports law? 

DL: The word networking is often overused and underappreciated. It is just a matter of trying to speak to as many people that share your similar interests. It is not just about meeting experienced attorneys, but it is about connecting with your peers and colleagues. It is important to branch out beyond the walls of your law school and use tools like social media to meet others with shared passions in the law. Later in your career, those are the people that will help support you.

 

KT: If you were a law student today, what topics would you be most interested in exploring through research and writing? 

DL: When I was in law school, the percolation of fantasy sports and sports gambling was big. The Ed O’Bannon case against the NCAA was also gaining traction while I was a law student. As far as writing went, I wrote about this weird time in 2012 when there was a lockout in both the NBA and NHL. I found it interesting that during the lockouts some NBA and NHL athletes played overseas and entered into contracts with foreign teams. My writing focused on international law and what rights, if any, those teams had to those players who were also under NBA and NHL contracts in the United States.

The growing landscape of alternatives to college sports is an area that I would pay attention to if I were writing for a law journal as a law student. Specifically, the growing alternatives that exist to staying four years in college is an area that I think should receive greater attention. With the XFL and the NBA G League, there seem to be a growing number of alternatives to playing college sports, opportunities that allow these athletes to get paid. International sports are also alternatives that have gained greater prevalence. The rights of non-team-sport-athletes is another area that I think is really interesting right now. I think about wrestling, UFC, WWE and boxing. I don’t know why there is not a union for UFC or wrestling, but that is an area that I would be interested in exploring.

 

KT: What are a few topics in the sports industry law students and attorneys should pay close attention to over the next decade? What importance do these topics have to the legal profession and the sports industry?

DL: Sports betting is an area that should receive close attention over the next few years. This was a huge topic six years ago and we are still in the early stages of sports betting and sports gambling laws in this country. People that researched and wrote about sports betting at an early stage of its relevance in legal circles have completely altered their careers. If you are the sports betting and legislation expert, you are on the radar of Penn National Gaming and Barstool Sports. It is an incredibly niche area of the law and there is so much money at play. You have to follow the money, and right now in the sports legal world, all of the money is going to sports gambling and leaving sports media and television.

 

KT: You have seemingly used social media and podcasting as a strategic tool in your practice as an attorney. What role do you think those tools play in your practice? What advice would you give to law students and other attorneys as it relates to strategic social media usage?

DL: Everyone will tell you that two of the most important things you can do are network well and publish writing. I found a way to get published as a young associate by writing about social media usage of witnesses in civil trials for the New York Law Journal, the New York Business Journal and the American Bar Association. I was getting publishing opportunities, but I did not know if anyone was actually reading them. I wanted people to know that I was published in some type of thing, but I didn’t know how to do it.

The gratification of getting published was not as great as I thought it would be, especially since it took a lot of effort to write for the ABA. Then I came up with the idea of writing a higher quantity of shorter articles. I saw that there were multiple sports law matters that came up each day, and I did not have time to write an article as intensive as what would be published in a law review journal.

I think the world of sports law is criminally underrated when compared to sports business. For whatever reason, sports business is more important to people than sports law, which does not really make sense because there is a strong argument to the alternative. Sports law has been around for 20 years, at least, and it is very academic. Even the panels that have been around for the past two decades are very serious and academic. People that are interested in sports law, in my experience, at the law student level, are former athletes and people that watch a lot of sports. That is the exact opposite of academia. On social media I try to put out sports law content for sports fans. I try to post gifs, videos and polls, and try to engage with more than just the legal academic community in sports law matters.

 

KT: What excites you most about the future for the intersection of legal matters and the sports industry? 

DL: When I was in law school, about 10 years ago, you only spoke with your own sports law society and those that you met at competitions and symposiums. In the past decade, social media has allowed the various sports law societies to intermingle with each other. What excites me is the progress that has been made in the development of a growing sports law network. People are getting connected at higher and more substantive rates. Perhaps more than anything, the pandemic has forced people to network beyond their respective school.