Sports law trailblazer: Amanda Fowler paves the way for equality

Sports lawyer Amanda Fowler is recognized for her expertise in advocating for athletes and providing invaluable legal counsel. With a career spanning several years, Fowler has established herself as a prominent figure in the sports law industry. Overcoming numerous challenges faced by women in the predominantly male-dominated field, she has emerged as a fierce advocate for gender equality and fair representation.

Fowler’s journey began with a unique opportunity to observe a sport dispute arbitration, which fuelled her passion for sports law. Through dedication and hard work, she eventually became co-counsel alongside a respected law professor, further honing her skills and deepening her understanding of the legal intricacies surrounding sports and athletes.

Sports lawyer Amanda Fowler
Amanda Fowler

During a recent interview, Fowler underscored the significance of establishing a lasting impact as a lawyer in the sports industry. She emphasized the importance of work-life balance and shared her strategies for achieving harmony amidst the demanding nature of sports law. Setting clear boundaries, prioritizing effectively, and embracing flexibility were key principles she highlighted.

Can you tell us about your journey as a sports lawyer? How did you get started in this field and what attracted you to representing athletes?

I got started when a law school professor invited me to observe one of his sport dispute arbitrations. I began working for him, and then eventually as co-counsel. In the same year, I advised a college prospect in the MLB draft who was then drafted in the 7th round. I loved working with high-performance athletes on all types of legal matters, and knew it needed to be part of my practice.

I was attracted to the work because it involved protecting human rights. It was also interesting and challenging work that had the potential to make a positive impact in the sports world.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, what challenges have you faced in your career? How have you overcome them?

In general, I think the law profession has made significant efforts to challenge the traditional male-influenced working model. However, I’ve both seen and experienced disadvantages to lawyers who are also mothers – pay inequities, inflexible working arrangements, and a lack of development opportunities.

I’m not someone who stays unhappy for too long. If a working situation doesn’t work for me, I’ll make changes.

Could you share some examples of instances where you had to “make your voice heard” in the industry? How did you navigate those situations?

I think my reputation has prevented me from being in this situation. My personality can be quiet and reserved, but when I have something to say, people listen. Part of my job as a lawyer is to find ways to be heard.

Balancing work and personal life can be challenging for anyone, but especially in a high-pressure field like sports law. What strategies or tips do you have for achieving a work-life balance?

I do feel I’m balancing a lot. In the past year, I noticed my priorities have shifted; there are some things I want to carve out more time for and others that are no longer serving me. I’m in the process of making changes to my own work-life balance.

First, I should acknowledge that work and life are hard to separate, especially as a sports lawyer. I identify priorities and then set boundaries around them to ensure most of my day is spent on those things.

A good day might look like exercising/meditating first thing in the morning, non-negotiable family time, outsourcing tasks around the home, scheduling uninterrupted work periods, and being selective about the projects and cases I take on. I try not to sweat the small stuff.

I know I’ve got balance when I feel happy, fulfilled, and inspired in my life. If not, then it’s a signal I need to re-evaluate my priorities and commitments. Balance looks different for everyone. Investigate what it looks like for you, be flexible, and listen to your body.

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) has gained traction recently. Can you discuss its success so far and how it has impacted the women’s hockey landscape?

In my personal view, the PWHL implemented a well-funded business model suited to the needs of women hockey players and their fans; it didn’t try to replicate the NHL model or that of any other sports league. Even though its early, it feels like the PWHL got everything right so far and it shows great promise for a sustainable future.

The PWHL inspires more girls to play hockey, allows them to see their role models on a regular basis and provides women and girls with a career path as professional hockey players, which all contributes to growing the game. More girls in hockey (or any sport) is a good thing.

Why do you think it has taken so long for women to have a professional hockey team? What are the main barriers or challenges that women face in professional sports?

In my personal view, it could be the challenge to the status quo, lack of professional opportunities and liveable salaries. However, I think more women in professional sports is on the rise and this last year saw it really take off – the future looks bright.

Could you provide some insights on the discrepancies between men’s and women’s professional sports? What steps need to be taken to bridge that gap?

I think the quality and talent of women in professional sports (and college sports) is spectacular. Bridging the gap comes when fans show up to games, tune into the broadcasts and show their support. We’re starting to see the increased attention already, and I think it will only get better.
I’d like to get to a place where we migrate from discrepancies in women’s professional sports, and we start taking more action to bridge the gap. Female pro athletes, their games and leagues are worth getting regular attention.

What advice would you give to aspiring sports lawyers, especially women, who want to break into the industry and make a name for themselves?

In my experience, I’ve only ever been treated as a sports lawyer, not a female sports lawyer. If you perform well and produce great work, the recognition will follow. If you’re passionate about pursing sports law, stay committed to the task, put in the work to seek out opportunities, and when you land one, make the most of it.


Find out more about Amanda on her website.




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Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography