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WHO: Clay Travis
WHAT: Sports Analyst for Fox Sports, Attorney, and OutKick CLE Founder
WHERE: Fox Sports
WHY: Clay is a former associate attorney who took advantage of the flexibility of contract attorney work to pursue his passion for sports and make it a career. Clay’s most recent venture, OutKick CLE, is “the least miserable way to earn CLE credit”- something we think all lawyers can get excited about.
Inspired by Clay’s story of leaving the law and making it big in the world of sports news, we called Clay while he was on his way to Las Vegas during March Madness. We discovered that he balances his television appearances and writing with fatherhood and entrepreneurship. As Clay described his path to success, we learned that it was paved with courage, prudent planning, and creativity. Read on to learn more about Clay’s unique career.
Q: Tell me about your path in law.
A: I went to Vanderbilt University Law School. While in law school, I got the opportunity to work in the U.S. Virgin Islands for Dudley Topper and Feuerzeig, the biggest law firm in the Caribbean. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that, so my soon-to-be-wife and I decided it was the right move, and we went down there. While I was working as an attorney, I started blogging, mostly sports content for CBSSports.com. As my articles became increasingly popular, I started thinking about writing and covering sports full-time.
Q: When did you make the jump out of law?
A: I was starting to make more and more money from my articles, and at the same time, I realized that the U.S. Virgin Islands wasn’t the right fit for us long-term. Meanwhile, I proved to myself that I could eventually make the financials work as a writer, so I left the firm and we moved back to Tennessee.
I was also practicing law part-time. It’s hard to pursue your passion if you’re a full-time attorney. It’s also hard to leave the security of your job with a family to support. As a contract attorney, I had interesting and diverse work, from labor and employment disputes to internal investigations for sexual harassment allegations. It was about 1,000 hours a year. Being able to use my legal skills and have that flexible schedule was the ultimate safety net.
The year we moved back to Tennessee, I wrote my first book about my experience watching a football game in each of the 12 SEC football stadiums in 2006.
Q: What inspired you to create Outkick CLE?
CLEs are boring. Lawyers are a captive audience and people don’t think they have to make CLEs interesting to sell them. Outkick CLE was founded in 2014 as an outgrowth of the popular OutkicktheCoverage.com website to make CLEs interesting. Lawyers are competitive and that often makes them pretty passionate sports fans. We thought we could make CLEs interesting by talking about the things people are interested in, like college sports, Nigerian princes, and craft beer.
Q: Do you still use your legal skills?
A: Yeah, I do. I am constantly reviewing the contracts for my own business relationships and engagements. I also try to lend a legal perspective to my sports coverage when it’s relevant. There’s an intersection between sports and the law. There are also the stories with contract disputes between players and their teams, athletes getting arrested, and lockouts. My legal perspective is particularly valuable when reporting on stories like that. I think if I hadn’t delved into my current career, I would have become a trial attorney. I like to distill complex legal issues in a way that regular people can understand them.
Q: What’s your advice for attorneys who want to devote themselves to their non-legal passion full-time?
A: First, pursue your passion in your free time and make the move in stages. Ask yourself if you can reconstruct your legal salary from the new way of living. Second, and relatedly, save money in advance so that you have a safety net. And don’t adopt the fancy attorney lifestyle if you value flexibility. Those are my top two.