Sean C. Sansiveri , VLS ‘08, is Staff Counsel with the National Football League Players Association and its marketing and licensing subsidiary, National Football League Players, Inc. Over the past year, Sean also has served as legal counsel to the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. In that capacity, he acts as the Labor Liaison between the NFLPA and the AFL-CIO. Prior to his work in sports, Sean practiced business law at Saul Ewing LLP, covering a broad range of matters including securities, intellectual property, corporate governance, and mergers and acquisitions. Outside of sports, Sean works with a number of charitable organizations including Futuro De Los Niños and First Book. He has lectured at Temple University’s Fox School of Business teaching honors pre-law courses. Sean is a graduate of Cornell University College of Industrial and Labor Relations.
What do you like most about your current job?
I work with exceptionally talented people and especially great leadership. Also, I grew up loving football. To represent the players of the NFL is an honor. These guys put their bodies on the line every Sunday and Monday (and sometimes Thursday) to make professional football the greatest sport in America.
Can you comment on the collective bargaining agreement that has been agreed upon as a result of the historical NFL lockout period?
The collective bargaining agreement represents months of hard work by everyone involved and is truly a very fair deal.
How will this benefit the players and affect the game of football?
The NFLPA has made significant gains in the areas of health and safety for active players and in benefits for future former players. I believe the 2011 collective bargaining agreement will be remembered as one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history, not just in terms of current player benefits but for the increased retirement benefits for the former players.
What advice would you give to law students wanting to enter the field of sports law?
Most of the attorneys I know who work in sports never intended to be there. But it is a great place to be. So, regardless of what type of law you want to practice, fight for every opportunity you can. The more you experience, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better able you will be to serve your clients. Approach every opportunity with an intense curiosity. Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can - there will come a time when you will be grateful you did.
Which VLS professor had the greatest impact on you?
Several VLS professors had a hand in shaping my early legal career. Professor Ruth Gordon stands out because I employ the skills and lessons learned in her first-year contracts class, literally every day in this profession. Much of my work with the NFLPA focuses on contract negotiations and drafting in the context of sponsorships, marketing and licensing on behalf of the players of the National Football League. In addition to the legal substance learned from Professor Gordon, her emphasis on attention to detail is something I carry with me as an attorney.
Which VLS class do you feel prepared you the most for your professional career?
In additional to Contract Law, VLS’ practical learning courses were uniquely beneficial. The Advanced Advocacy Clinic with Professor Beth Lyons and Civil Pretrial with Andy Youman offered real skills, which I’ve applied since day one of my legal career.
Who has been your most influential mentor?
While it may not be the most revealing answer, I have to give that one to Mom and Dad. They have always inspired and supported me and continue to do so each day.
Looking back on your career, is there anything that surprised you about being in the legal field that you didn’t anticipate as a law student?
The legal profession, like any business, is all about the people. It’s very important to keep constant focus on the needs of your clients, or in the case of young attorneys, the partners for whom you work. Also, turns out VLS’ emphasis on legal writing and research was well placed.
Is there anything you would still like to accomplish as a lawyer?
Plenty, I’m always looking for new challenges.
What is the most important career lesson you have learned?
Always be content but never be complacent.
What is your favorite sport and did you play any in college?
Definitely football, which I played at Cornell.