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Patrick Henry Strong

Balch & Bingham
PO Box 306
Birmingham, AL 35201
(205)226-3474 / pstrong@balch.com

Patrick is a 2006 magna cum laude graduate of The University of Mississippi School of Law and he received a B.S. in Political Science, with a minor in English in 2002 from The University of Mississippi. He handled complex litigation with Balch & Bingham from 2006-2010 and since has been involved with Sports Law at Balch & Bingham.

At the University of Mississippi, Patrick was Rush Chairman and Pledge Trainer for Sigma Chi Fraternity and at the School of Law he was Student Body President and worked on the Mississippi Law Journal. He has been involved in ThreeSixty - Christian Based ministry focused on proving mentorship and guidance for two international and two inner-city college students. He is a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and is a regular speaker to lawyers and law students through Ole Miss Sports Law Society, Birmingham Barristers CLE, Cumberland Law Symposium, and The University of AL Law School’s Sports Law CLE. Currently, Patrick is a member of Alabama State Bar’s Young Lawyers, Litigation, and Intellectual Property Sections, the Birmingham Bar Association, National Football League Players Association as a certified contract advisor, and Balch & Bingham Hiring Committee. Patrick was a member of the Product Liability & Casualty Practice Group and now concentrates on job placements for coaching clients, career management and contract negotiation for coaches and players.

The sports anchor who recommended Patrick said, “I’ve lived in the Birmingham area for 40 years and have spent the majority of that time working in the media market. I’ve come across a lot of good folks and a lot of bad ones. Patrick is one of the good guys and takes the notion of honesty, ethics and professionalism to a whole new level. Patrick is an outstanding and capable attorney, which goes without saying. But he is an even better person and cares more about helping his clients and their families through uncertain times than what the bottom line looks like at the end of the day. In a results-driven world dominated with ‘me first’ attitudes, Patrick does things the right way without concern for whether it requires more of him than most others would be willing to provide. His approach to ‘representing’ a client is unlike anything I’ve been associated with before. The legal aspect is first-rate but it’s the personal relationship that exceeded my expectations. Patrick’s approach is always centered on what’s best for me and my family regardless of how that impacted his ‘take.’ That may not sound like a novel approach but I can assure you from someone who’s been in the business world for nearly three decades, it is. Imagine a world where earning the most money wasn’t the ultimate goal at the end of the day…that’s where Patrick lives and I’m glad to have him on my team. His practice area often lends itself to public and media scrutiny (sometimes intense) and many in his field become consumed with ‘what’s in it for them.’ Patrick provides uncompromised representation without being distracted by what others may think is in his client’s best interest. He spends countless hours providing insight and guidance to young up-and-coming coaches and athletes without receiving a penny in return. For Patrick, the opportunity to help people in need of help far outweighs the opportunity for immediate return. I know for a fact, he has spent more time working on my deals than a couple of his high profile coaches being charged the same commission, and I don’t make an SEC salary. People like Patrick should be the foundation of any effort designed to change society’s current perception of attorneys and help move Alabama forward at the same time. He is already a leader in the sports and entertainment world, both in Alabama and beyond. I fully expect his position as an industry leader to continue the upward trend and believe any group dedicated to identifying leaders would be well-served to include Patrick. I’m a native of this state. I’ve lived with its history, both the good and the bad. I’m excited when I’m around young leaders who desire to call my state home and will do the hard work to make the future of this state better for my kids. That’s the American Dream, leaving this world better for the next generation, that mission needs strong leaders.”

In his own words Patrick said, “There are generally two types of people in life – takers and doers. I consider myself the latter and believe that it’s society’s doers who possess the most natural ability to lead our community, city and state through the coming years. I am not from Alabama, I didn’t go to school here, wasn’t born here, and didn’t spend my childhood here. Neither did my wife. Nonetheless, we chose to make Birmingham our home more than six years ago. Since that time, we’ve dedicated our time to our marriage, our trades and, now, our family. We work in very different fields – I’m a sports attorney, she’s an interior decorator – but together we’ve experienced first-hand the challenges (and corresponding satisfaction) of blazing our own trials in a new place. I joined Balch & Bingham as a litigation associate in 2006 and shortly thereafter was asked to assist my partner, Russ Campbell, with growing the Firm’s sports and entertainment practice. Over the years Russ had gone from representing several NFL players to representing several collegiate coaches. What started as a seasonal, regionally focused practice balanced against our traditional litigation practice has now developed into a year-round practice with clients across the country that requires one hundred percent of my time. As one might imagine, this did not come easy and was the result of a significant time commitment and vigilant focus on our goals and plans to achieve them. There was never any question that we would build a practice that right way, through honesty, hard work and professionalism. While not the quickest way, it’s the only way in our opinion.  There are really two reasons born out of my experience that convinced me to submit my application for the 2013 ASB Leadership Forum – Class 9: (1) I know the capabilities of talented people with a focused approach; and (2) although based in Birmingham, my practice does not lend itself to much interaction with other ASB members. In order to address my most important contribution to the legal profession, I have to provide some context to my chosen field within the legal profession. If attorneys on the whole suffer from a perception problem, agents rank somewhere between last and dead last. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to attend a NFLPA Seminar or read any of the tell-all books written by sports agents, you understand why. We come into nearly every negotiation and potential client meeting trying to shake the cloud created by the many ne’er-do-wells that cloak themselves as ‘agents’ (often part-timers without law licenses who have never met a rule, regulation or moral standard they care to read, much less follow). Given that context, I would like to think that my most important contribution to the legal profession is changing the perception of acceptable conduct for a sports attorney and proving that there are still folks out there that do things the right way. This is primarily accomplished through: (1) education (taking the time to visit with others interested in pursuing a career in sports law); and (2) implementation (practicing what we preach by offering uncompromised service while delivering unexpected results). Whether hosting one law student in our office or speaking to a group of fifty plus, my message is always the same: identify what you’re passionate about, set your mind to it, refuse to accept failure, resist temptation, and never compromise your morals or ethical standards. Equally important, I work tirelessly each and every day to implement that message and dispel the notion that you have to take the shortcut to get ahead. This is accomplished by doing, not talking. As satisfying as it is when your client is pleased with the results, I also find great satisfaction in winning over the opposing party with our honesty, professionalism and ethical approach. We frequently open job searches or negotiations with University presidents, athletic directors and administrators only to be told, ‘we don’t deal with agents.’ These decision-makers typically have a bad taste in their mouths due to the poor decisions of previous representatives. Some of our proudest moments come when we finish job placement or negotiation for a client and these same, hesitant individuals ask us to put them down as references or inquire whether we’d be willing to represent them if the need arises. This does not mean that we always agree on every point but they appreciate our professional approach. I also frequently visit with local collegiate athletes and their families as they attempt to make the jump from amateur to professional athlete. To be clear, I am not talking about a paying client. In a traditional legal context, this would fall into the category of pro bono work. Every year I spend countless hours on the phone with players and their families talking them through the process, recommending steps to take, approaches to avoid and things to look out for as they take their shot. There are almost always exclusively athletes and families from across the state that are looking for guidance through a foreign process. I would conservatively estimate that I’ve helped more than two dozen individuals through the process without ever expecting to receive a dime in return. Maybe it’s a bad business model, but the thanks and appreciation make it well-worth the time. I see the ASB Leadership Forum as an opportunity to accomplish several things. As previously mentioned, I rarely get the opportunity to interact with Alabama attorneys outside the social context given my unique practice area and lack of previous Alabama roots. I’m excited about the potential to interact with other attorneys with a shared passion for improving the perception of Alabama attorneys and leading our state forward while offering assistance to others around us. I also see the Leadership Forum as an opportunity to gain working knowledge of specific issues facing our State Bar and Alabama in general. I believe that the educational aspect of the Leadership Forum is the first step to identifying solutions. I am confident in the Class’s ability as a whole to work together to provide answers and solutions for the greater good.”