He has rubbed elbows with Danica Patrick and negotiated Al McGuire’s first television contract.
Attorney Martin J. Greenberg admits he has done it all and more in the field of Sports Law.
After all, he pretty much wrote the book on the practice area in Wisconsin. In fact, he has written several on the burgeoning field in the last two decades.
“From an area that was hardly recognized as being an academic area of pursuit, it’s become not only one of the most popular areas of law school for law students, but it’s become a specialized area of the law for lawyers,” said Greenberg of Greenberg & Hoeschen LLC in Milwaukee.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Marquette University Law School’s National Sports Law Institute (NSLI), which Greenberg co-founded.
Today, he estimates that almost a quarter of aspiring attorneys attend Marquette because of the NSLI, largely because the opportunities in the practice area are growing by the day.
“The sports field is just a gigantic business,” Greenberg said. “The legal complexities, whether it’s university issues, whether it’s amateur athletics, whether it’s pro sports, strikes, steroids, contracts, hold outs; it’s all legal.”
After he graduated in 1971, Greenberg cut his legal teeth as a real estate attorney and was coaxed into teaching the subject to law students at Marquette.
“I was told to show up Monday and make believe you know what you are talking about,” said Greenberg, who joined the faculty in 1973 and currently teaches a course on representing professional athletes and coaches.
Turns out Greenberg knew what he was talking about, even if few others did when he proposed adding a sports law class to the curriculum in 1978.
“I’m a little bit of a dreamer,” Greenberg said. “I think I’m probably 20 years ahead of my time.”
But he also notes that despite the glamour of sculpting the world of sports law, it also takes a savvy attorney to break into the field.
“The good sports lawyer is also the good business lawyer,” Greenberg said. “You have to understand the business aspects, regardless of whether it’s fun and games.”