SBJ/20100913/Careers People

Whitney looks to get young clients thinking about the future

Dow Lohnes recently named Jeffery Whitney vice president of its sports and entertainment division. Whitney will be charged with making a more comprehensive practice by adding athletes from across different sports, and will be involved with player contracts and endorsements, as well as legal and business advice and counseling. Whitney, a litigator for more than a decade, says he will use his litigation background to help with client maintenance and developing relationships. He spoke with staff writer Brandon McClung.

Age: 39
New title: Vice president, Dow Lohnes sports and entertainment practice
Previous title: Litigation work at his own firm, The Law Offices of Jeffery A. Whitney
First job: Working on a tobacco farm
College education: Bachelor of science, mathematics/computer science, Oglethorpe University (1992); J.D., University of Wisconsin (1997)
Resides: Washington, D.C., with wife Patrina
Grew up: Oakland, Ky.
Executive most admired: Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer, American Express
Brand most admired: Apple
Favorite vacation spot: Jamaica
Last book read: “Willie Mays: The Life,
The Legend,” by James Hirsch
Last movie seen: “Inception”
Favorite movie: “City of God”
Favorite musician/band: Public Enemy

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Getting clients to think long term. A lot of our clients that we represent are young, and it is sometimes difficult to get them to think about things that might happen next week, let alone what might happen years down the road.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
Going out on my own and opening my own law firm.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Clerking for the Honorable U.W. Clemon, former chief justice of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. It really helped my judgment and decision-making by being right there with the judge all the time and seeing him go through the process, the facts and coming up with a really sound decision.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
I seriously don’t have any disappointments — only lessons learned.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into this industry?
Don’t get into this industry just because you love sports. It has to be more than that if you are going to be successful and relevant for years to come. This is a hypercompetitive industry and not for the faint of heart.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
All the attention that the NCAA is placing on sports agents and some of the activity that is now going on with the players.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
Stop blaming athletes for every ill that plagues the sports industry. Sports is one of the biggest industries in the United States, and it gets more commercialized by the minute. In my opinion, this deliberate commercialization, at any and all costs, is to blame for most of the problems, not the athletes.

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Related Topics:

Ping, American Express, NCAA, Opinion

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