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

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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.   

A Business Affairs & Legal intern with the Detroit Pistons, 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. “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.   

“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 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.”

LaForest was a research assistant for Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policies and their Efficacy. She then researched  athletes’ activism and First Amendment rights and  researched human trafficking around major sporting events. In her sophomore year, she co-founded and was president of Michigan Women Empowerment in Sport and Entertainment,  a space to discuss  gender discrimination in the sport and entertainment industry. She also was vice president of Team Relations for the Michigan Sport Business Conference for two years and  developed a diversity initiative that led to over a 50 percent increase in diverse speakers.    

Now a 2L student at Wayne Law, LaForest is a member of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society.      

“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.”   

In her 1L year, she 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, to practice and build on oralist and writing skills in a practical manner.    

This past summer, she worked remotely with Lakeshore Legal Aid. “I’m glad I was able to help with clients because my support allowed Lakeshore to take on and support more clients. 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.”    

She also worked as a research assistant in the 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.”    

For almost three years, she has served on the board of WhiteCollarSports, a company introducing high-school student-athletes to the sports business.

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