More Than a Jerry Maguire Moment

Litigator Jamie Filipovic worked for a time as an NFL agent

Published in 2024 Illinois Super Lawyers magazine

By Mark Schaaf on February 1, 2024

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The job of an NFL kicker is a unique one.

In any given game, a kicker is involved in only a handful of plays—but those plays can be extraordinarily high in both pressure and profile. One bad game and they could be out of a job.

“For kickers and punters, there are 32 jobs available in the world,” says Jamie Filipovic, a licensed NFL agent and partner at O’Hagan Meyer in Chicago. “I always ask my friends, ‘I know you are really great attorneys, but if there were only 32 [spots], do you think you would have a job?’”

Filipovic knows a thing or two about the challenges NFL kickers and punters face: Her husband, Filip, was a punter for the Dallas Cowboys who now runs a business training kickers and punters around the country.

Thanks in part to the relationships formed from Filip’s business, as well as the experience she acquired from working in employment and union law, in 2013 Filipovic took the NFL Players Association licensing exam and became certified as an agent.

She passed, and began carving out a niche in the industry, representing professional—and aspiring professional—kickers and punters. Filipovic’s connections translated into quick signings and, due to her small client base, she could provide a personal touch for clients that large agencies simply could not.

For example, if a team had a sudden opening midseason, Filipovic worked to have videos of clients readily available, and she stayed in constant communication about players that could fill roles.

“The NFL standing for ‘Not For Long’ really is a true thing,” she says. “Having a personal connection with people and really understanding their story—that helps you sell them to coaches and do the back-and-forth you have to do.

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing which players are out there for them, especially midseason,” she continues. “‘Hey, this guy is still out there, he’s actually from the area and can come over right now’—that kind of stuff is helpful. Whereas, with a big agency, they may not be able to connect on a personal level.”

Filipovic grew up in Michigan, and attended many University of Michigan football games while completing her undergraduate degree. Since earning her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 2002, she has remained in Chicago—with the exception of a short stint in Dallas, when her husband wore number 10 for the Cowboys.

At O’Hagan Meyer, she advises companies on a wide range of issues such as discrimination, union negotiations, arbitrations, and drafting of employee handbooks. She also leads the firm’s complex class action and biometric privacy practice group, which involves Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. And while Filipovic has mostly pulled back on NFL agency work for now, she is still involved in her firm’s growing sports and entertainment practice group—representing agents, coaches, and athletes in formal legal proceedings, as well as advising universities on the NCAA’s new name, image, and likeness rules.

Those opportunities have come, at least in part, due to the doors Filipovic opened during her time as an NFL agent. “It brought a deep knowledge and understanding of the sport and their craft, and how that involves the law,” she says. “You can’t just jump in and do the legal work without knowing those underlying issues. Just as with companies, when they’re up against union issues, you really have to know what they do and how everything works before you can give the best representation.

“Everyone glorifies the NFL agency and wants their Jerry Maguire moment,” she adds. “It’s fun, I’m not going to lie: Being at the combine, going to games—it’s really fun and exciting. But, as with any other type of work, to be successful at it takes a lot of time. And it’s challenging at times.”

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