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Gabe Feldman named inaugural Barron Professor of Law

March 24, 2015

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Professor Gabe Feldman (left) visits with sports agent Marc Kligman (L ’95) before the finals of Tulane’s National Baseball Arbitration Competition in January.

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Among the guest judges Professor Gabe Feldman (far right) has helped recruit for Tulane’s National Baseball Arbitration Competition are Arizona Diamondbacks General Counsel Nona Lee (left) and Washington Nationals General Counsel Damon Jones (center).

Almost 34,000 people know Gabe Feldman better as @SportsLawGuy. That’s his handle on Twitter, where he’s the second-most followed U.S. law professor.

Tulane Law students know him as the Sports Law program director who seems to have connections all over a highly competitive and burgeoning industry.

Feldman also serves Tulane University as associate provost for NCAA compliance. And now he has a new title: Paul and Abram B. Barron Professor of Law.

Colleagues, friends and relatives of Professor Emeritus Paul Barron created the endowed professorship to recognize his 34 years of service to Tulane Law. The fund includes donations from Barron and his sister, Martha Ann Wishnev, honoring their father, Abram B. Barron.

Feldman is a fitting inaugural holder of the professorship: he co-taught a negotiation and mediation course with Paul Barron and counts him as more than just a professional colleague.

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Professor Emeritus Paul Barron

“Paul Barron has been an incredible mentor and personal friend,” Feldman said, “Any named professorship would have been meaningful, but this has been particularly impactful.” He said he is “beyond honored” by the appointment and the opportunity to “help build on the legacy he created at Tulane.”

Barron said that when he retired, Feldman ably took over the negotiation and mediation course, “and I cannot imagine anyone better to have done so.”

Barron, who specialized in commercial law and alternative dispute resolution, was a popular teacher and served Tulane in an array of leadership roles. For instance, he was the law school’s vice dean in 1987-90 but also the university’s vice president for information technology in 2006-09 as the school recovered from Hurricane Katrina’s damage. Barron twice served as Tulane’s interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, in 2000-01 and 2006-07. And students twice chose him for the Felix Frankfurter Distinguished Teaching Award, the law school's highest teaching honor.

Feldman joined the Tulane Law faculty in July 2005, a few weeks before Katrina. He has carved his own niche as an excellent teacher and built a nationwide reputation as an expert on multiple facets of college and pro sports. With his understanding of the many legal fields, including labor, intellectual property and antitrust, that intersect in the business of sports, he’s a go-to source for news media on topics as wide-ranging as concussions in the National Football League, college athletes' rights and minor league baseball salaries.

He’s also sought after as a consultant and expert witness. And in mid-March, he appeared on a sports-related panel at SXSW, the conglomeration of music, film and interactive events in Austin, Texas. 

“What makes sports law so challenging and fun is the opportunity to research and teach the application of these laws to this wildly popular and unique industry,” Feldman said.

After graduating from Duke University School of Law and clerking for Judge Susan Black on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he practiced at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., where he represented clients in the industry and started weaving his extensive network of contacts.

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Professor Gabe Feldman introduces MLB representatives who discussed the industry with students as part of Tulane Law’s National Baseball Arbitration Competition: Los Angeles Angels Director of Legal Affairs Alex Winsberg (L ’00), Angels Director of Baseball Operations Justin Hollander, arbitrator Doyle Pryor and Armando Velasco (L ’11), a Houston Astros player development assistant.

He said Tulane, the first school to offer a sports law certificate, “was the obvious choice” when he decided he wanted to teach full-time.

Over the past decade, Feldman has helped expand the nation’s top Sports Law program so it’s an even stronger magnet for students eager to practice in the field and those looking to leverage law degrees into sports management positions. Students often say they chose Tulane because of his leadership. In 2013, he received a President's Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching, a university-wide recognition.

“Professor Feldman not only has a passion for Sports Law, but for education as well,” said Victoria Acuff (L ’16). “He does not teach with the purpose of getting to the end of the lecture, but for understanding.  He is able to take difficult concepts and make them both simple and applicable. He is an incredible asset for the Sports Law program.”

Feldman was instrumental in creating Tulane’s National Baseball Arbitration Competition, an oral advocacy tournament and networking opportunity run by sports law students and judged by lawyers, agents and pro baseball executives. Along with the sports-themed Mardi Gras Invitational moot court event, now in its 20th year, and a new Professional Football Negotiation Competition, Tulane offers a unique lineup that attracts participants from across the U.S. and even Canada.

A key component of the Sports Law program is providing internship and networking opportunities for Tulane students so they can meet people working in the industry and learn about the components of sports law.

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Retired attorney Joe Ettinger (L ’56) and Professor Gabe Feldman (center) judge the finals of Tulane’s popular sports-themed Mardi Gras Invitational moot court competition, held at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Feldman said he hopes to launch a mentorship program to connect every sports law student with lawyers who share their interests. Recent graduates also could participate. “The idea is that the program continues after graduation,” he said, because some of the best networking occurs after law school.

Another goal is to start multi-day intensive training, similar to Tulane Law’s innovative week-long Intersession boot camp, to focus on sports-specific skills such as drafting, negotiating and interpreting player contracts, stadium leases and collective bargaining agreements.

“It is very clear his goal is to help students get jobs in the very competitive industry of sports law,” said A.J. Stevens (L ’16), editor of the Sports Law Weekly, a newsletter produced by Tulane Law students with Feldman’s assistance.

“In the classroom, Professor Feldman’s enthusiasm for teaching, knowledge of the law and refreshing sense of humor has kept me engaged and entertained for the last three years,” said Jeff Karas (L ’15), Sports Law Society vice president. “Outside the classroom, he has been an irreplaceable source of guidance to many students. I personally owe him many thanks for his role in my growth and success as a law student,” he said.

"Gabe Feldman's accomplishments as a scholar, outstanding teacher and leader on campus and in his field make him a perfect fit to inaugurate this professorship honoring Paul Barron," Dean David Meyer said. "Gabe and Paul have given selflessly to generations of Tulane students and colleagues, and we are pleased to be able to honor them together through this appointment."


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