Hoop dreams: Student eyes career in sports and entertainment law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Growing up, Kristen Nelson often heard her mother mention how badly she had wanted to be an attorney—and so when the opportunity arose to take a law class in high school, Nelson took it –and was hooked.

“I was intrigued by the different types of law, and I became motivated to learn the nuances of the law as well,” she says. “My mom’s dream slowly became mine.”

Nelson dipped a toe in legal water by interning at the Allen Law Group in Detroit for three summers during and immediately after high school.

“It was a wonderful opportunity because it was my first hands-on experience as to how licensed attorneys navigate everyday aspects of law practice,” Nelson says.

One of the associates at the firm advised her to pursue a major that would provide a broad background once she began law school. She went on to earn her undergrad degree in business management, magna cum laude, from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where she played varsity basketball, and was the recipient of the “Uma Sekaran Award for the Most Outstanding Woman Management Major in 2020.”

“My dream is to one day work for one of Detroit’s professional sports teams, so I believed it was important to learn from a business perspective how to manage projects, how to work with others, and how to manage the inevitableness of change,” she says.

Playing hoops has helped her in many ways, adds Nelson, who captained the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, and played on the Michigan Storm travel team, receiving multiple student-athlete scholarship offers.

“Most importantly, basketball has helped me strengthen my teamwork and leadership skills, prepared me to persevere through adversity, and being a student-athlete has definitely expanded my ability to multi-task,” she says. “I’ve always been a well-organized and timely person, so having those skills and my experiences as a student-athlete have contributed to many of my accomplishments. Basketball has also been a great networking tool because I’ve built relationships with so many people from many different walks of life.”

Now a 1L at Detroit Mercy Law School, Nelson’s main focus is sports and entertainment law.

“As a starting attorney, I’d also be open to working as a transactional attorney,” she says. “However, sports and entertainment law the main goal. My career goal is to work for the Detroit Pistons. Basketball is my passion and has helped shape me into the woman I am today. Being a sports and entertainment attorney would be a dream come true. However, I’m a fan of many sports, so working with the Tigers or Lions would be a blessing as well.”

Nelson is enjoying her law school experience, especially the relationships she has already formed with her peers.

“It’s such a great feeling to know so many people who are willing to extend themselves to assist me during my journey as a law student and into my professional career,” she says. “The Detroit Mercy Law community as a whole has embraced me in ways I’d not anticipated.”

Nelson also is grateful to be the recipient of a Dean’s Fellowship.

“Being a Dean’s Fellow is a great honor and blessing. It means so much to me that Detroit Mercy Law selected me as a fellow to represent the school and ultimately pour back into the school and future law students after I become part of the alumni community,” she says. “Being a Fellow pushes me even more to be a great student and resource at the law school.”

Nelson is thankful to be taking her law classes in person.

“It’s another blessing because I’m the type of student who prefers to be in a classroom setting especially when I’m learning challenging material,” she says. “However, my online makeup classes have been great because my professors are always willing to meet with students outside of class in their office hours, which is really helpful.”

 

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