Welcome to the Member in the Spotlight, a newsletter feature introducing SLA leaders, members and industry influencers to the SLA community. This month we would like to introduce you to SLA Member and Outreach Captain, Brandon Leopoldus.
Sports Law Education Started Early For SLA Outreach
Captain Brandon Leopoldus

Olympic Training Center and Professional Umpiring Were His Early
Sports Law Learning Environments
Brandon Leopoldus’s education as a sports lawyer began in elementary school.

Growing up in the shadow of the Olympics Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado he tagged along three days a week with an older sister who was an elite gymnast. While his sister trained, Leopoldus would shoot baskets on the USA Olympic Basketball Court or hang out in the USA Olympic Boxing Facility. This is where his sports law education began.

Later, after a five year stint as a Minor League Baseball (MLB) umpire seeing a great deal of America from behind an umpire mask he received an unwelcome phone call. Mike Fitzpatrick then head of the Minor League Baseball umpire program, called Leopoldus and said he was releasing him. 

Leopoldus took stock of his situation and decided that the experience and insight he gathered from his life-long engagement with sports and athletes could best be used in sports law. Today, Leopoldus Law is a thriving firm having worked with dozens of professional athletes (from prospects to the Hall of Fame), artists, entrepreneurs, and other talented people demonstrating a keen understanding of the lifestyle, problems and opportunities these clients face. 

And what about Leopoldus’s umpiring career?  The Association of Minor League Umpires (the labor union for Minor League Umpires) is a Leopoldus Law client too.
Q. How did you decide on a sports law career?
After I was released, I was sitting with Dan O’Dowd, now on the MLB Network, but then the General Manager of the Rockies. Dan suggested I go to law school. The first day of law school I asked about a sports law career and the response from the school was, “That’s not really a great career option but here’s a book with a bunch of company names in it. You should try there.” I noticed that many members in the book listed SLA membership . So, I signed up for the SLA annual conference. The first person I met at the conference was Don Fehr, at the time the Director of MLB Players Association. Next, a guy – looked like a California surfer dude – sits down next to me and starts identifying other people in the room that I should speak with. He was genuinely being helpful. It was Bobby Hacker. At this point I’m 60 minutes into the event and completely sold on the SLA. I go to the event every year.

Q. Any advice for someone starting a career in sports law?
Yes, three things to keep in mind:
1. Be tenacious.
2. It is a small community but there are a lot of people. I don’t deal with a lot of lawyers in my practice. I work with financial advisors, CPAs, agents, retired athletes, coaches, trainers, suppliers and brands. The community is as broad as the opportunities.
3. Don’t wait for your turn. If someone says you’re not ready yet and won’t help open doors for you, kick the door in. Companies go from a business card to a $1 billion business in months. Take advantage of your opportunities.
Q. Tell us about your work with SLA.
I serve on the SLA’s Outreach Committee. I think it is the best job at SLA. I moved to LA and wanted to meet people. As an Outreach Captain I was able to organize meetings and panel discussions on topics I was genuinely interested in delivered by people that were some of the leading luminaries in sports law. It is wonderful. I get to speak with and get to know pretty much everyone in our industry. And I love doing it.

Interested in becoming an Outreach Captain? Contact Executive Director, Melissa Pomerene.

Monthly Member Spotlights introduce SLA leaders, members and industry influencers. Have a suggestion for a Member Spotlight? Email scarthy@virtualinc.com and tell us about a special SLA member and how we can contact him/her.