By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Jonathan Stahler, Associate Attorney at PARRON LAW and a NBPA certified agent. Jonathan's journey of a thousand miles didn't start with a single step, but with a four-hour, round trip commute three days a week from San Diego to Los Angeles where he was an intern at SAG-AFTRA while attending Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Frequently described by his colleagues as a consistent model for "hard work, dedication and professionalism," Jonathan is one of the bright up and coming minds in the sports law and athlete representation sector of the sports industry. He was gracious enough to offer up his time and insight into the dedication it takes to succeed in the sports law industry, why being able to sell not only what you do, but yourself is critical and why being adaptable is crucial for success.
What has your journey been like since graduating from Thomas Jefferson before landing at Parron?
It has definitely been a journey. The biggest thing I have learned, in all the places I have been, is that you have to sell yourself. If you can’t sell yourself during an interview, you are not going to be able to sell yourself to get that client.
There was a time during my law school career where I wanted to get experience in entertainment law. I was fortunate enough to meet an alumnus of Thomas Jefferson and he recommended me for a position in Los Angeles with SAG-AFTRA. Three hours after he spoke with them, I received a phone call inviting me to come for an interview. After getting hired, I made the commute from San Diego to Los Angeles two to three times per week. It was an incredible experience. I later asked them why they chose me and they said, “the fact that you were willing to commit to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles for this position stood out to us. It truly showed what type of person you were.
Many newcomers to the sports world want to be agents. What drew you towards that path and what keeps you motivated day in and day out?
It’s something early on that everyone wants to do, but not a lot of people end up doing. During my first sports business class at Syracuse, we went around the room and spoke about our career aspirations and most, if not all, said they wanted to be a general manager or an agent. I always knew I wanted to be an agent and that I wanted to go to law school. I ended up doing that. From that original class, only one or two other people went on to law school, yet they transitioned away from being an agent. It is a grind. It’s not the flashy Jerry Maguire life you see portrayed on the movie. You are constantly responding to emails and phone calls at all hours of the day and night.
Although you are only beginning your career as an agent, what are your tips and advice for someone wanting to become an agent?
You have to be able to sell and present yourself in the most professional way possible. The entire industry revolves around selling yourself. From acquiring clients, to selling those clients to the team, you must know how the process works. You need to be adaptable and able to relate to others. You meet people from all over and from different backgrounds. You need to make sure your message is clear and understandable for them.
As an NBPA certified agent, do you plan on only representing NBA players, or would you like to represent players from different leagues?
The NBA is definitely a passion of mine. I have experience with both the MLB and NFL, but right now my focus is on basketball. Eventually, I would like to do all three. I wish I knew more about some of the other sports like Hockey, Soccer and extreme sports. That is such a growing field of representation.
Finish this sentence… "My mentor helped me….”
Be confident in myself and stressed the importance of adaptability, work ethic and developing personal relationships.
I have been lucky to develop such great relationships with these people and they have helped me immensely.
When wanting to be an agent what are three traits someone needs to be successful?
Adaptability is paramount. You have to be able to relate to these athletes and their families. You can’t make it so complicated that they think you are speaking a foreign language.
Knowledge of the area you are in. This is often overlooked, but you have to know the ins and outs of what you are doing. When representing athletes, a great place to start would be to know as much as you can about their CBA. What that document contains effects them on so many levels.
Communication skills are critical. You have to be able to communicate both verbally and written. Being able to construct a good email is very important, it is overlooked, but it is one of the most important things.
You have to develop and maintain relationships, but you have to remember to give back. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help I have received. One day someone you help could be your boss. It is definitely to your benefit to remember those people who have reached out and showed a passion and interest.
Don’t go to law school without really wanting to go. My law class started at 300 but graduated only 200. You have to have a plan. Law school is a huge time and financial commitment. You can’t be someone who just goes to law school because they didn’t get a job out of their undergrad.
Jonathan's caring nature and hard working personality make for the perfect fit for someone looking to navigate their way through the ups and downs of the sports law field. We would like to thank him for his time and insight and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!