by Chase Brownford J.D.’20

Chase Brownford (left) with Professor Peter Carfagna

As a prospective student, one of the biggest draws of HLS was its robust clinical program. My experience as a student in the Sports Law Clinic has undoubtedly proven to be the highlight of my law school experience.

After my 1L year, I thought I wanted to be a litigator, and my internships that summer reflected this. While my 1L summer was an overwhelmingly positive experience, I knew I wanted to try out the transactional side of legal practice prior to my 2L summer at a law firm. I registered for both of Professor Carfagna’s Sports Law classes during the Fall semester and quickly realized how invaluable the contract drafting skills covered were not only to sports law, but to any type of transactional practice.

Wanting to get exposure to this type of work in an in-house environment (and, admittedly, escape the Cambridge winter), I spent the 2019 Winter Term with the San Francisco 49ers. Working in the shadow of Levi’s Stadium, I was able to assist in drafting sponsorship agreements for the team and the 49ers Foundation, review vendor agreements, and was able to witness the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, which the Stadium hosted. My supervisor in San Francisco, Jihad Beauchman (HLS ’09), also had taken Professor Carfagna’s courses, had participated in the Sports Law Clinic, and had spent several years as an associate at a law firm before transitioning to his present role. Jihad’s guidance on the remainder of my time at HLS, life as an associate, and drafting advice was extremely insightful and helped me prepare for my upcoming summer. I left San Francisco with the strong conviction that this was the type of work I wanted to do for the rest of my career.

I hoped to spend the 2020 Winter Term with another clinical placement at an NFL team and was fortunate to be placed with the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The timing of my placement was unique in that preparations for Super Bowl LIV were well underway when I arrived and continued throughout the three weeks I was in South Florida. The breadth of projects that my supervisors Myles Pistorius and Brandon Briggs provided in three weeks rivaled that of my experiences at full summer internships. In addition to honing my drafting skills relating to the Dolphins, Super Bowl, and Miami Open tennis tournament, I was able to complete various projects working with members of the Youth Programs, Ticketing, and IT departments.

When the opportunity arose to spend my final semester at HLS with a third clinical placement, I jumped at the chance to intern at the Big 12 Conference under the supervision of another one of Professor Carfagna’s former students—Kelvin Smith (HLS ’11). The Big 12 placement involved legal research and memo-writing on a variety of novel issues facing the Conference, the NCAA, and student-athletes, in addition to contract drafting and review. When the coronavirus pandemic upended the sports world in March, I was especially grateful for Kelvin’s willingness to continue to provide me with projects, with an increased focus on the legal and policy implications that the virus has and will continue to create.

Overall, I am confident that my time in the Sports Law Clinical Program will be one of the most meaningful and impactful experiences of my legal career. Words cannot fully express the gratitude I have for my supervisors’ mentorship and guidance at each of my placements, the faith and confidence Professor Carfagna has placed in me from the beginning, and the members of OCP that have made all of this possible.