Lawyer's job is tailor-made for lifelong sports fan
ALUMNI | André Walters, AS02, doesn’t know how to tailor a suit, but he does know how to negotiate, structure and close deals. Interestingly, both those facts played a part in his landing a role with Bobcats Sports and Entertainment, which operates the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats and Time Warner Cable Arena, where he is vice president of legal affairs.
As Walters explains, it all began one day while he sat in his office at his former job in business law in Baltimore. He looked out his window at a beautiful sunny day, he says, and his only thought was that he wanted a new career path.
Walters realized that he didn’t want to have a job simply to make money. He wanted a job that he loved. With that revelation came another; he was a sports guy and fascinated by the business of sports.
“That’s what I have a passion for, and I just thought back to when I was a kid,” he says. “I played sports, played basketball, baseball, football, and I spent much of my leisure time watching, reading or talking about sports.”
Because several family members had recently moved to Charlotte, N.C., Walters decided to check out the websites of the city’s professional sports teams to see if they had openings in their legal departments. On the Bobcats’ site, he saw that Jared Bartie had just been hired as the team’s general counsel.
After reading Bartie’s bio, Walters realized that he wanted to emulate that career path, so, in hopes of finding a mentor, he called the Bobcats to get Bartie’s email address. Instead, his call was transferred and Bartie answered the phone himself.
Walters still tells the story with amazement: “So I go, ‘Hi, Mr. Bartie, my name is André,’ and he stops me and goes, ‘You’re just the guy I’ve been waiting to talk to.’ And I’m like, ‘I am?’”
It turned out that Bartie had been trying to reach a tailor named André. Once the two men straightened out who was on the phone and why, the rest is history. In a month’s time, after two interviews, Walters was offered the job as director of legal affairs.
The moral of the story, he says today, is to have faith, not be afraid to take some chances, work hard and be on the lookout for opportunity. “Ironically, the skill sets I developed with my previous job ended up serving as the foundation for what I do today,” he says.
With the Bobcats, Walters, who is married to attorney Antoinette McRae Walters, AS01, handles the organization’s risk management. He prepares, reviews, negotiates and helps close all the company’s agreements and transactions—including player contracts and deals with corporate sponsors and for major events at the arena, including the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
“In a nutshell, my job is to protect the organization as best I can and to help get our business deals across the finish line,” he says. “As a kid, I watched Michael Jordan on television like everyone else, and now I’m the lawyer for one of his major business interests. I’m truly a blessed individual.”
And what about André the suit maker? Walters laughs: “I’ve never met him. I’d like to meet him, though, to tell him, ‘Hey, you and I are forever linked.’”
Article by Adam Thomas