Former MSU Star and NFL Great Todd Duckett Speaks at WMU-Cooley’s 10th Annual Howard Soifer Memorial Sports and Entertainment Lecture
Todd “T.J.” Duckett, Michigan State University standout and former National Football League running back; and Joseph Bellanca, entertainment and media attorney at Hertz Schram PC., were the featured speakers during WMU-Cooley Law School’s 10th Annual Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture in Sports and Entertainment Law on Nov. 18.
Duckett, 35, was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and attended Loy Norrix High School where he earned the ranking of USA-Today All-American. Duckett was drafted 18th overall in the 2002 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to the Falcons, Duckett played for the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, and Seattle Seahawks. Duckett discussed the importance of a trusting relationship between the athlete and agent.
“It was important to be on the same page and to trust one another,” said Duckett about his relationship with his agent. “It’s a competitive business, and as a highly ranked NFL draft pick, I needed someone that was honest, trustworthy, and understood my goals. The relationship taught me that, in professional sports and in any career, relationship building is key.”
Bellanca, a WMU-Cooley Law School graduate, advises entertainers, musicians, athletes, writers, media companies, and issues related to contracts, licensing, trademarks and copyrights. He is an adjunct professor at the Detroit Institute for Music Education, the treasurer of the State Bar of Michigan Arts, Communication, Entertainment and Sports Section, and the recently elected secretary of the Italian American Bar Association of Michigan. Bellanca discussed how to handle issues in sports and entertainment law.
“As an attorney, people come to you with an issue on the table, and it’s important to remember to be honest,” said Bellanca. “You can’t always tell your client that they’re right or that this problem is going to go away. If you are not honest, it hurts your reputation.”
Previous Soifer Memorial Lecture speakers include Tom Izzo, Michigan State University men’s basketball coach; Kevin Poston, president and CEO of Detroit-area based DEAL Elite Athletic Management; Steve Smith, broadcaster and former MSU and NBA all-star basketball player; and Steve Garvey, former MSU and Major League Baseball all-star and MVP.
“We are very fortunate to have hosted the Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture for 10 years,” said WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc. “The Soifer family has allowed WMU-Cooley Law School to continue to honor Howard’s passion for law, sports and entertainment by connecting our community to influential business and sports professionals that share those same passions.”
Soifer was grateful for his legal education at WMU-Cooley Law School and his family, friends and partners have endowed the lecture series in his memory.
About Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Western Michigan University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School affiliated in 2014, combining the status of a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and the law school continue to operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.