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Valpo grad lands sports law 'dream job'

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A Valparaiso University School of Law 2006 graduate who participated in the school's Sports Law Clinic, including the clinic's work in Turin, Italy, during the 2006 Winter Olympics, will begin work with the United States Anti-Doping Agency in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 10.

As director of legal affairs for the USADA, Stephen A. Starks will prosecute doping cases against Olympic athletes as well as handle day-to-day matters in USADA's legal office as the "No. 2 of two" lawyers in the office of general counsel. He said he will also be working diligently to get up to speed before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

He is one of the first students of the clinic - started during the 2005-06 school year - to accept a full-time job in sports law with a sports agency.

Starks will remain with Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis until Feb. 29. Prior to his work in private practice, Starks fulfilled a one-year clerkship with Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore R. Boehm.

As a law student, Starks wrote the brief and argued the case for the athlete in USADA vs. George Hartman in 2006. He argued before the American Arbitration Association against USADA's then-general counsel and current CEO Travis Tygart and Bill Bock, the current USADA general counsel.

In an April 2007 interview for a May 2-15, 2007, Indiana Lawyer article, "Team assists athletes," Starks expressed an interest in pursuing sports law.

"My dream is to get into sports law, but as a young lawyer you take the opportunities that are presented to you. So you get with a reputable firm and get involved with clients they have who have a sports interest," Starks said.

Recently, Tygart personally called Starks to officially offer him the job in their legal department.

"It's unique to get an opportunity from the CEO who has had your position," Starks said Feb. 22. "The learning curve is going to be so steep ... you can't ask to be in a better position as far as (having a CEO as a mentor). Very few positions are recruited by the head man."

While Starks said the firm has been "tremendously supportive," he will miss his work in Indianapolis. With parents living in Fort Wayne, he plans to keep up with his Indiana connections, including his Indiana law license.

"Unfortunately, (taking this job) means I have to leave what I consider to be the best firm in our state so quickly," he said. "It is a dream job to be involved with sports not just as far as doing legal work but to also work for a sports entity. I think getting a job with USADA epitomizes that dream."

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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