Johnnie Cochran is in his natural element in a court of law. His flair for courtroom theatrics and knowledge of legal loopholes has made him the criminal attorney of choice for the rich and famous and gained him international fame. And, of course, that O.J. Simpson matter he handled a little while back didn’t hurt his career either. Yet with a thriving Los Angeles law practice and a daily program on CNN, Cochran is still on the prowl looking for new challenges.
But Johnnie Cochran, sports agent?
Yes. Cochran recently partnered with established sports agent C. Lamont Smith to form All Pro Sports & Entertainment International. The sports management company will handle contract negotiations, financial and planning investments, marketing and endorsement deals for professional athletes. But the firm’s main drawing card will be the expertise the firm will be able to bring to bear should any of their clientele have any unfortunate legal problems. “If they have legal problems, that’s something we can deal with that other agencies simply could not do,” says Cochran. “But I wanted the opportunity to represent these athletes right from the beginning. I wanted to be there when they sign the contract.” With offices in Los Angeles, Denver and New York, the group is ready to go after some of the biggest names in sports.
Cochran says the idea of his jumping into sports management wasn’t that far-fetched. An avid sports fan, he says there are growing opportunities for sports representation as athletes sign fatter professional contracts and endorsement deals. It was just a matter of hooking up with the right personnel to get the deal done. That happened when Cochran spoke with Smith three years ago at a conference of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association. Smith’s client list already includes NFL running backs Barry Sanders, Jerome Bettis and Eddie George, but he apparently had an interest in the added star power Cochran could bring to this union.
“The issue was African Americans had really not participated in this field at the level we should, given the number of black athletes,” says Cochran. “The question, is when you have such a large number of athletes-why wouldn’t we get our fair share?”