Slam dunk: Student aims for career as NBA team general counsel

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Passionate about basketball, Charles Hayden’s goal is to become general counsel for an NBA team — and the Wayne Law student, entering his 3L year, is well on his way to achieving that dream.

He is spending this summer at Allen Brothers PLLC, a full service law firm in Detroit’s Greektown, working under law firm partner David Jones.

He also will help Jones at VIP Sports Management, an agency that recently signed New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram and where Jones is a NFLPA certified agent and general counsel.   

Hayden brings a valuable business background to his legal studies, having studied business administration of sport management at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, and earned a BBA from Adrian College, where he played Varsity hoops. 

“I’d like to say I have a business mindset — I’m always putting together ways to create revenue or coming up with ideas to run a business,’ he said.

Ever the budding entrepreneur, in elementary school he and a friend tooled around with an idea to improve the Cadillac Escalade; his buddy handled engineering ideas and Hayden wrote a report to present to GM.

In 6th grade, he started a weekend car washing business in his driveway. Not surprisingly, when he landed his first job in sales, managerial positions quickly followed.    

Wanting to combine his passion for sport, eagerness to learn, business savvy, and a need to understand the process of everything, law school seemed the ideal destination, where his focus is on banking, corporate, finance and securities law.    

“My competitive spirit comes into play — I like the challenge and law school is definitely challenging,” said Hayden, who confesses he also wanted to “one-up” his mother who earned her doctorates in 2014.    

“Wayne Law has honestly been nothing but great to me,” he adds. “It’s hard to choose what I enjoy most — I’ve built so many connections that as a whole have made me a better individual.”

Connections come from membership in the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, Student Board of Governors, Black Law Students Association and Wolverine Bar Association.

“Each organization has either helped me build my network through my classmates or through those that are currently in practice, including my mentor Jason Webber, general counsel for GM,” he said.

Last summer, Hayden interned at the Mike Morse Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Southfield.   

“Working at Mike Morse was a blessing — I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction into the legal world,” he said. “I was given the opportunity to work with (senior trial attorney) Eric Simpson and his team and was assigned interrogatories, case evaluations and motion responses. I was assigned to a great team who worked with me but challenged me to do better. At the same time the team treated me as a teammate. I felt as if I established a connection with them.”

Hayden then spent five months as a legal extern with senior management at TriMas Corp. in Bloomfield Hills, a worldwide industrial manufacturer of engineered products, where he gained a better understanding of the transactional side of law.   
He also spearheaded a charity drive that raised more than $30,000 to assist employees of Lamons, a TriMas subsidiary in Houston, who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“In my opinion, there’s nothing better than using your skills to help out others,” he said.
This year, Hayden interned for Chief Judge Denise Page Hood in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, where he worked on motion answers and case summaries.
“I’m overly thankful to have the experience to work under Chief Judge Hood,” he said. “The best part of the experience was receiving advice and guidance from Chief Judge Hood. In our conversations, I was able to learn about what judges look for in both attorneys’ writings and in their oral arguments. I was able to learn about her journey and how she endured her trials and tribulations.”
A Farmington Hills native, Hayden now makes his home in Auburn Hills, where he enjoys playing with his puppies — Onyx, a black Labrador, and Zeek, a Husky —a s well as playing and watching basketball and helping a friend train for a senior season of college basketball.
A weight lifter and a runner, he will run a half marathon this fall with The Detroit Free Press Marathon.   
He and his mother are partners in a real estate venture, buying and fixing up homes to rent.
The two also help Freedom Missionary Baptist Church in preparing meals for the homeless each Thanksgiving. Hayden volunteers as well at the Capuchin soup kitchen near the law school.   
Hayden appreciates the potential of the Motor City.     
“When I was younger, Detroit was not necessarily a hangout spot — I only heard of people going downtown for the Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, and the casinos,” he said. “Now, downtown Detroit is the place to be. We have all four sports teams in one area, we have top brands such as Google, Shinola, Nike, Under Armour, Lululemon and many more are all taking shop downtown. Not to mention the multiple businesses that are already located downtown as well as the ones moving downtown. Now Detroit has something for everyone from family events, to businesses, to law firms, to individual enjoyment.”

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