'On the ball': Law student is interning with the Detroit Pistons office

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Photo courtesy of Lindsey LaForest

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Lindsey LaForest was drawn to law to expand her skill set and maximize her impact in the fight for social justice in sport and society as a whole.

“(Pro tennis player) Naomi Osaka recently said she felt like a vessel for spreading awareness, and while I will never be Naomi Osaka, I hope to fill a similar role,” she says
Currently serving as Business Affairs & Legal Intern with the Detroit Pistons basketball team, LaForest’s career goals are to combine her interests in social change and sport, that she hopes will lead to a legal role at a league, team, or player’s association where she can advocate for systemic change within the sports industry.

“The Pistons have a great history and are deeply committed to social justice initiatives, and I’m excited to be even a small part of it,” she says.

LaForest earned her University of Michigan undergrad degree in Sport Management and a minor in Law, Justice, and Social Change. She was involved with the Michigan Sport Business Conference, Michigan Women Empowerment in Sport & Entertainment, the Sport Business Association, and Kinesiology Student Government; and interned with StadiumBee LLC, the Montag Group, and various research projects on campus.   

She was drawn to sport management by the opportunities the medium of sports presents.    

“Many people only see sports as an activity, hobby, or entertainment. While it’s all that, sports are also used to instill societal values,” she says. “We use sports to instill skills of leadership, hard work, and teamwork; as a bonding opportunity to cross generations; and to bring on childlike joy for people of all age. Sport inherently is reflective of our society and culture, the good and the bad.    

“I believe that those in the sports industry including athletes, leagues, teams, and businesses alike have a responsibility to play a role in the conversations surrounding social justice. The medium of sports provides those within it an invaluable platform to propel necessary and meaningful change. I feel a sense of duty to be a part of that responsibility as someone who works in sports, played sports, and enjoys sports.”

LaForest started exploring this intersection during undergrad when she was a research assistant for Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policies and their Efficacy.    

“Title IX addresses both sexual misconduct and gender representation in sport, and the relationship is not a mere coincidence,” she says.

She went on to research on athletes’ activism and their First Amendment rights and was a part of researching human trafficking around major sporting events. During her sophomore year, she co-founded and served as president of Michigan Women Empowerment in Sport and Entertainment to provide a space to discuss issues of gender discrimination in the sport and entertainment industry. She also served as Vice President of Team Relations for the Michigan Sport Business Conference for two years before.

“In that time, I developed a diversity initiative that led to over a 50 percent increase in diverse speakers at the conference,” she says. “It was a rewarding initiative that I maintained as I became co-president in my final year on the team. All of these programs involved the law at the core, so I was drawn to law.”

Now a 2L student at Wayne Law, LaForest is a member of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience of the sports business industry with fellow students.

“Many of my classmates are sport fans but aren’t aware of the opportunities in the space, so I’m glad I can be a part of introducing them to it,” she says. I’m also excited to provide female representation in the organization’s leadership and hopefully encourage more women to join as a result.”

In her 1L year, LaForest took second place in the NFL Contract Negotiation Competition.

“An important aspect of studying sport management was compartmentalizing your fanhood and your business perspective, which is important for objective decision-making,” she says. “I love sports, but I’m not a day-to-day fan that keeps up with scores, standings, and all the other metrics, except for University of Michigan athletics.

“For the NFL competition, I was able to look at the statistics presented without any prior knowledge or bias from fanhood or media depiction of the player. I enjoyed getting to analyze the team perspective of a player contract and getting to apply all of my sport management knowledge from undergrad. It was also fun to share some of that knowledge with my classmates.”

She joined Moot Court, in order to practice and build on both her oralist and writing skills in a practical manner.

“I learn best through examples and practice problems over theory, so the opportunities that come with Moot Court and the rest of my second year are exciting,” she says.

This past summer, she worked remotely with Lakeshore Legal Aid.

“I learned so much, so fast,” she says. “The clients I worked with were low-income and often victims of domestic violence, many of them could not afford help so legal aids are one of their only avenues for assistance.   

“I’m glad I was able to help with clients because my support allowed Lakeshore to take on and support more clients. It was also rewarding for career development. I was able to appear in court, draft pleadings, interact with clients, and much more. My understanding of the legal process grew exponentially, I was finally able to understand all the civil procedure concepts after seeing them in action. I also felt I was able to improve my writing which was really rewarding.”    

Along with her summer internship with Lakeshore Legal Aid, she also worked as a research assistant in the law school’s Asylum and Immigration Clinic.

“For many of the clients the clinic works with, their lives or livelihood are at risk based on whether or not they’re granted citizenship,” she says. “Being even a small part in protecting clients and their families is rewarding because you know you’re having an immeasurable impact on their life.”

Working and studying from home has been an adjustment; and as someone who is high risk, LaForest rarely leaves her apartment. This situation, however, has enabled her to dedicate even more time than usual to school and work, and she took two classes this summer while working at both a full-time and a part-time job.

“I’m a first-gen law student and first-gen college student,” she says.

 “My dad is a millwright for Ford Motor Company and typically worked 12-hour days, 7 days a week in the plant, yet still managed to coach me in travel softball, never missed my sister’s choir concerts, never missed anything really.

“When many of my friends and classmates find it unbelievable that I’d work 60 hours a week and take two classes, I just felt grateful that I got to do it in air conditioning, at a desk. My parents instilled a strong worth ethic in me from a very young age, and I’m very grateful for it. I was also able to use this summer to read about different areas of the law and different jobs in the field. I’m still learning about it.”

LaForest is excited to use her diverse background to build a career in sports and social justice, while sharing her experience and knowledge with younger students along the way. For almost three years, she has served on the board of WhiteCollarSports, a company introducing high-school student-athletes to the sports business, equipping parents with road maps for assisting student -athletes with gaining admission to collegiate sports management programs, and assisting high school administrators with understanding sports business opportunities for their students.

“There are so many high school student-athletes who do not have the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level, but still have a deep love for sports,” she says.

“WhiteCollarSports is a way to show them their passion can continue in a new way.”




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