Gregg E. Clifton is a principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog. He spoke with Hofstra LawNews about his career, and major trends in sports litigation.
Tell us about your career — where did you start and how did you get to where you are now?
My career has gone full circle. After graduating from the law school, I was hired as an associate by Jackson Lewis. After five years with the firm I had the opportunity to fulfill a career goal of working in sports law by joining famed sports attorney Bob Woolf at Bob Woolf Associates. During the next 20 years I had the opportunity to represent some of the world’s greatest athletes and entertainers. Approximately, ten years ago I was offered the chance to return to Jackson Lewis and start a sport practice representing management in all aspects of sports law.
How did your Hofstra Law education help shape your career?
I was extremely fortunate to have learned from some great professors in a broad spectrum of course offerings relating to labor and employment law. The exposure to Hofstra law courses like Labor Law, Labor Arbitration, and Dispute Resolution were incredibly beneficial.
What is a standout moment or accomplishment you are most proud of in your career?
I have had the opportunity to negotiate record breaking contracts for many of my clients, but I think I am most proud of having successfully represented both athletes/entertainers and management in the sports and entertainment law area, as well as having won baseball salary arbitration cases on behalf of both players and major league baseball teams.
What aspect of your work do you find most rewarding?
I think the opportunity to have represented some of the world’s greatest athlete and entertainers, and now to work with some of the world’s greatest professional sports franchises, colleges and universities in the sports law area has provided me with an incredibly rewarding career.
What major trends are you noticing in the collegiate and professional sports world?
The current expansion of rights for collegiate athletes through litigation and the passing of federal and state legislation.
What do you see as the next big topic in sports litigation?
I think we will continue to see litigation relating to pay-for-play issues in college athletics and the ongoing disputes arising from name, image, and likeness rights for college athletes. The upcoming expiration of the collective bargaining agreements in all of the major sports and the ongoing wage and hour class action lawsuit relating to minor league baseball player compensation will also be major issues.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I enjoy spending my leisure time with my family and attending any and all sporting events.