A dream of mine dating back to the time I was in middle school was to work in the business side of baseball, ideally for a team or the league office. As I got older, I realized the part of the business that intersects most closely with professional athletes is labor and employment law, since athletes are the labor and the product of the leagues and teams. This realization is what led me to pursuing Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) school and continuing onto law school at the University of Buffalo.
As I researched executives who worked in the sports law field, I came across a young, highly successful, attorney who followed a similar path that I would like to pursue, Josh Fox. Josh is a Senior Counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department of Proskauer Rose LLP, and works in Proskauer’s New York City office. Josh is a member of the Sports, Labor-Management Relations, Class and Collective Actions and Wage and Hour Practice Groups.
Josh is also a fellow Big Red alumnus who graduated from Cornell’s ILR school in 2007, and also has taught a Cornell ILR class about baseball salary arbitration over the last two years. I spoke to Josh recently about his path to Proskauer, and to learn more about the field in which he works. He was extremely willing to connect and shed some light on sports law, as well as his path to becoming senior counsel. The first question I asked Josh was, “What inspired you to pursue this line of work?” He made it clear that he always had a passion for sports, whether it had been playing them or writing about them. He was a basketball and baseball player since as long as he can remember, and wrote about sports for his high school paper and the Cornell Daily Sun. He believed that pursuing a career as a labor and employment attorney was a great way to have a seat at the table in important aspects of business and law for companies in the sports world and elsewhere, which led him to the ILR school.
At the ILR school, Josh took a Collective Bargaining in Sports class, among others. This was a course that covered background on labor issues in the sports industry. Some of the topics covered were salary determinations, free agency, salary caps, salary arbitration, antitrust issues, labor disputes, and the histories of sports labor unions. While Josh specified that this was an influential course he took in undergrad, he mentioned that he also felt that the general background in labor and employment law concepts, from classes he took at the ILR school, gave him an important foundation in pursuing a career in labor and employment law during his time at Brooklyn Law School and at Proskauer.
Josh also interned during law school at Region 2 of the National Labor Relations Board, which gave Josh exceptional insight into the daily workings of an active NLRB Region. This is where he told me, “To be a great sports lawyer, you need to be great at a particular discipline; you can’t just be a passionate sports fan.” For Josh, this is labor and employment law, which he continued to pursue during law school while interning for MLB and then the NHL. Josh said those experiences gave him unique insight into the needs of a sports league client, which was invaluable before Josh began as an associate at Proskauer in November 2011. When I asked Josh about the culture of Proskauer he said it requires a “great attitude,” the ability to work collaboratively, and diligence, in no particular order. He also mentioned that those who succeed at the firm are humble, smart, and exhibit an exceptional work ethic. Josh said he loves what he does, and his colleagues in the labor and employment department do as well.
When I asked him what a typical day at Proskauer looks like, Josh chuckled and said “there are no typical days,” given the complex types of matters Josh works, both for sports clients and non-sports clients. Josh focuses his practice primarily on collective bargaining negotiations, proceedings before the NLRB, and employment litigations (specifically, representing employers in wage-and-hour, class and collective actions).
My final questions were what he felt was most rewarding about his job and what he found most challenging. For what was most rewarding, Josh noted two things. He first said, “This is a people business so the types of relationships I develop with clients, mentors, and people I supervise is incredibly important. What is most rewarding is building bonds with those people and working together as a team.” The second aspect he finds most rewarding are the victories in cases that he works diligently on, and even for cases that are not won, knowing he made the best argument for that case.
I concluded my interview by asking Josh for advice he can provide to law students (including myself) about how someone can follow his path. Josh told me, “Everyone’s path looks different and even if you are not in the spot you had hoped in this given moment, you can always get to where you want to go. Find the area of law that interests you, build up experience in that area, and continue to make connections with the firms or corporations that you hope to work for.” This piece of advice, along with our entire conversation, was incredibly insightful and speaks to the work ethic and drive that Josh Fox has had his whole career and that has propelled him to be where he is today.