Have you heard the acronym NIL? It stands for name, image, and likeness. NIL rights came to college athletes on July 1, 2021 for the first time ever, and they include all types of publicity rights, which allow current college athletes to earn money on everything from endorsing products and services, making personal appearances, selling autographs, and creating their own businesses. We have been asked by many athletes, agents, athletic departments, and businesses about the best strategies to take advantage of NIL, what the NIL laws and rules are on a state-by-state and school-by-school basis, and to develop NIL legal contracts for clients. In fact, Heitner Legal was the only law firm named to Sports Business Journal’s first list of NIL Power Players.
If you are interested in learning more about NIL and the complexities around NIL laws and the benefits of retaining a NIL lawyer, then feel free to contact us with your questions.
We keep all communications confidential, pride ourselves on quick and active responses, and do not charge for initial consultations.
Many inquiries we have received thus far from people looking for a NIL lawyer come from sports agents looking for a NIL-compliant marketing representation agreement. With some states passing NIL bills and having them signed into law by their respective governors, while other states remain silent on the subject, agents have become cognizant of the need to best understand the NIL laws across the country, where they exist, and the NIL rules otherwise established in states without NIL laws on the books. As a former agent, founder of Sports Agent Blog, and having served as legal counsel for many sports agents for over a decade, I have felt very comfortable assisting in these efforts.
We are also being retained by college athletes who, for the first time, will have the capacity to earn money from third-parties use of their names, images, and likenesses. Our firm was honored to be involved in the first deals for Haley and Hanna Cavinder (the Cavinder Twins) of Fresno State, who inked deals with Boost Mobile, Six Star Pro Nutrition, and Gopuff on July 1.
It is very important that these athletes have an appreciation for what they can and cannot do, and guidance surrounding which is constantly changing, and it is wise that these athletes retain legal counsel who is staying on top of the NIL law trends. For instance, athletes will likely have disclosure requirements depending on the school they attend and the state in which that school sits. The last thing an athlete wants to do is jeopardize his or her eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics based on the potential to sign a lucrative NIL deal.
Many companies are also counting on us to provide NIL legal guidance, and we expect that to only grow with time. There is a lot of uncertainty with NIL laws and companies, big and small, are very interested in conducting the necessary legal due diligence surrounding all opportunities in the space.
Additionally, colleges across the country are reaching out for advice from NIL lawyers to best determine their NIL policies, whether or not their state has a NIL law in place. All colleges, conferences, and the NCAA are very cautious to not create overbearing restrictions, especially after the decision was handed down in the Supreme Court case of NCAA v. Alston.
Being a strong NIL lawyer requires having a seasoned background in transactional work, intellectual property law, and, most importantly, an appreciation for the nuances of NIL laws, rules, and regulations themselves. I do not believe that any law firm is better positioned than Heitner Legal to serve as NIL lawyers for those looking to operate in this space. We have been involved in crafting legislation, communicating with the White House and U.S. Senators, and developing policies with athletic departments across the nation. If you are an individual or corporate entity looking to get involved with NIL opportunities, why would you go anywhere else?