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Tackling Legal Issues with the NFL

Kelly Hartnett, Class of 2014

Kelly HartnettA co-op placement with the National Football League has put Kelly Hartnett in the middle of what is arguably the highest profile management-labor relationship on the planet.

Kelly, a 3L from Tabernacle, N.J., arranged a spring 2014 co-op placement with the NFL in New York, where she works alongside the attorneys who write and implement collective bargaining agreements between players and teams.

Much of Kelly’s time is spent responding to grievances filed by players.

As attorneys representing the teams prepare for hearings, Kelly combs through players’ records, organizes materials, drafts memos and observes depositions.

“It still feels like a dream,” said Kelly, who strategized for her first two years of law school to get the chance to combine her passion for sports with her growing mastery of the law.

Knowing it would be tough to break into the competitive field of sports law, Kelly began hustling as soon as she got to law school. She blasted emails to every name on the Sports Lawyers Association website, yielding an internship with the National Lacrosse League in New York. That experience helped Kelly nail another placement the following summer with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Kelly’s running game paid off big time when she landed a co-op placement with the NFL.

The experience has amplified what she learned in the classroom.

“In class, you are learning about contracts, criminal law and the constitution,” Kelly said. “When you’re in an internship, it’s the big picture. All these different areas of the law come together.”

The only way Kelly could top her co-op placement with the NFL would be finding a permanent job in professional sports. Now that would be quite the hat trick.