Hofstra Law alumnus Burton Rocks ’97 knows what it takes to overcome adversity and succeed in the world of sports. He spoke with Hofstra LawNews about his career path from law school to founding and running his own sports agency, C.L. Rocks Corporation, and offers advice to law students interested in the field.
Above: Burton Rocks ’97 with his client, St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Paul DeJong, at a Cardinals press conference in March 2018 announcing the largest deal in history for a player with less than one year of MLB service time. Photo credit: Scott Rovak.
When did you know you wanted to go to law school and why?
I was in sophomore year of college and realized law school would be my graduate career path. My father, a successful chemist, was always on TV when I was a kid, so chemistry was my first natural love. My mother had lived in Mexico on and off for many years with distant relatives and taught Spanish, so languages was a natural love as well.
But my asthma hadn’t cleared up when I was in high school, and it didn’t clear up in college either. It seemed destiny was not allowing pursuit of science. Law school now seemed the path of least health resistance.
What was your experience like at Hofstra Law, and how did it help you prepare for your career?
Hofstra Law was a godsend because it afforded me the opportunity to overcome health obstacles. Education-wise, I learned the fundamentals of corporate law, labor law, contract law and entertainment law that served me well in my future endeavors.
Do you have a favorite memory from law school?
During my second year of law school, I was still not quite over my asthma. I often wondered how I’d function professionally dealing with the day-to-day rigors of long hours at a big firm and other environmental hazards people with their health took for granted.
My father picked me up one day from class, and we drove to pick up a surprise he and my mother had planned — an official Rangers hockey jersey. Back in the day, my paternal grandfather, Charles, frequented Yankees games and Rangers games with my dad. When my grandfather died of cancer at 49, my dad was still a kid who hadn’t reached his teenage years.
This was my parents’ way of sensing my frustration with life, and it was their way of saying, “Stay the course.”
You battled severe childhood asthma growing up. How do you think this experience shaped your career?
Asthma shaped my life, my career, my ideals and my passion for health care issues. My first memories of life were of clutching and clinging to life in hospitals before I could speak. When I was well and at home, I’d see my dad on TV. Most of the time, however, I’d see my mom at the hospital in a little cot next to me, and my dad would arrive at 6 a.m. before he’d head off to his office or to D.C. or to some adventure involving the field of energy. But he’d be back there at 11 p.m. after visiting hours to see me.
Asthma forced me to stay the course, to move forward, to not look back, and to not deviate from the blueprint. Asthma also made me appreciative of teamwork — the teamwork of Team Rocks — my dad and mom and the marriage and ideals they set forth to make me who I am today.
My asthma forced me to enjoy the little moments in life, because all I had were little moments. My dad always said, “It’s the little moments that make up life.” I run my agency with that same vision.
What advice do you have for prospective and current law students who have had similar medical hardships?
Keep trying hard, don’t give up, enjoy the little happy moments along the way, and most of all, embrace your uniqueness — embrace your quantified intangibles.
How did your career path lead you to becoming a sports agent?
My dad had friends in the baseball world. Clyde King let me write his memoirs, and he gave me an invaluable education in scouting over the course of the two years of working on the book. I learned writing from my dad and mom, but I learned the scouting side of baseball from Clyde.
Ralph Kiner was an invaluable labor relations mentor in baseball to me.
After law school I wrote multiple books, later founded an internet company, and then launched this sports agency based on my Quantified Intangible Sheet metric I created and trademarked. I felt I had a unique background and so my metric would work well in forecasting client success.
My background in Spanish fared me well as an agent and I was fortunate my mom was able to be an advisor to my agency when it came to international relations.
What has been your proudest moment as an agent?
Just the many moments sharing the successes of my clients with them and their families.
What advice do you have for prospective and current law students interested in a career as a sports agent or in the sports world?
Study labor law, contract law, the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) of the respective sport, and most of all, enjoy learning about others and enjoy helping people.