GENERAL COUNSEL- PARADIGM SPORTS MANAGEMENT
Describe your legal background and your current role today.
I strive to be a “Renaissance Attorney.”
I was born in New York City, graduated the Bronx High School of Science, and the State University of New York at Albany (B.A., Criminal Justice), where I was a four-year letterman on the University’s wrestling team and a 1992 University Greco-Roman Wrestling All-American. I received my J.D. from New York Law School and during this time, I led the Moot Court Association to several national victories. I always enjoyed competition and testing my abilities against the best of the best.
About seven years ago, while working as a NFL Players Association Agent, I was approached by my mixed martial arts training partners about representing them in their professional combat sports careers. I used my training as a lawyer, advocate, and player agent to take on this new challenge. I never looked back. I let my NFLPA license lapse and now represent more than thirty male and female martial artists.
Today, I focus on Employment Law, Criminal Defense, Commercial Litigation, and Mixed Martial Arts (or “MMA”) representation and management, while I also do work in other areas, including matrimonial and family court matters. I have an active litigation and trial practice, and have tried more than 100 civil and criminal matters combined. In addition, I am in my 14th year as an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School, where I am also the Faculty Advisor to the Sports Law Society. I am a current Co-Chair of the New York State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section’s EEO Committee, a past Chair of the Employment Rights Section of the American Association for Justice, a past National Employment Lawyers Association/New York Chapter (NELA/NY) Executive Board member, and was editor of the NELA/NY Employee Advocate newsletter.*
What three words would you use to describe your role?
Advocate, mentor, and problem-solver.
What inspired you to pursue your current career?
With respect to my athlete representation work – where I am known as the “MMA Lawyer” – it stems from my passion for martial arts, competition, and my enjoyment in seeing others achieve success and happiness. If I am good at something, I like to share the benefits of my proficiency.
Name one movie or song to describe your career.
The Fighter with Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg.
How has your legal education/background shaped the way you perform in your current career?
A law school education provides you with a broad and diverse set of skills that will likely benefit you wherever you go. Developing and sharpening your verbal and written communication skills, an understanding of legal processes, logical reasoning skills, and critical thinking and analysis are things that serve you everywhere. I use these skills in everything I do.
What lessons learned or unexpected challenges did you face in your current role?
I focus on treating my athlete-clients in the same professional manner, with strict adherence to the code of ethics, that I treat any other legal clients. What I find is that — through no fault of their own — my athletes are not versed in professional or business matters. They never had to be. Much of my time is spent educating clients on general business matters and the importance of protecting their “brand” as athletes in the public domain.
I also found a lack of professionalism and legal expertise in a large percentage of other martial arts representatives; many promoters are actually shocked by my professionalism and attention to details and deadlines. I hope more truly qualified people will enter this field where athletes are in desperate need of quality representation and protection.
What advice would you give to those career pivoting or pursuing a career beyond the practice of law?
When you can pursue your passion in life, that is the greatest achievement. Find something you enjoy and figure out how to bring value to that field or endeavor.
What is your personal motto, mantra or favorite quote?
“Put it in your Excuse Book.”
When I was a wrestler in college, my coach would not accept any reason for missing practice. If your goal is to win, you need prepare more than your opponent. If, for example, you miss a practice and go to a match unprepared, you set yourself up to lose.
Coach told us to get a little notebook. In it, you can write down the reason every time you miss a practice or morning run.
Hanging out with my friends and did not want to leave and be rude
No gas money
My cousin had tickets to a Knicks game
Too cold outside
I had a headache
I had to study for a test
Parking is terrible
My clothing doesn’t fit right
My grandma was sick
When you lose, and after your opponent’s hand is raised in victory, you can hand your opponent your “Excuse Book.” You, your opponent, and anyone else, could read aloud your entries and understand why you didn’t win.
Any time one of the guys would miss a practice, an excuse would inevitably follow. Coach would simply say, “Put it in your Excuse Book.”
*In 2002 and 2007, David was honored by “Parents for Megan’s Law” for his efforts and advocacy on behalf of child victims of sexual abuse. In 2014, he was an Honoree at the 2013-2014 Unemployment Action Center Fundraising Dinner for achievements in the Labor and Employment Law industry. Also, he regularly speaks on CLE (Continuing Legal Education) panels and has trained federal court mediators on employment law and employment law litigation.
To learn more about David Fish, follow him on Instagram.