Having worked her way from on-air sports broadcaster to Principal at an elite full-service sports management and marketing firm, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law alumna Diana Day Zivich (’07) is eager to impart the biggest lesson learned over the course of her career: network early and often.
Read more about Diana’s career and her advice for students below.
Can you share a little bit about your career path?
Since I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to work in sports. I used my time as an undergraduate student athlete at UCLA to network with and befriend other athletes, trainers, managers, and athletic staff. When my playing days came to an end, I worked in the athletic department as a team manager for three teams. In my last two years of college, I interned in the sports departments at KCLA 9 and KCBS 2 in Los Angeles because I wanted to do on-air broadcasting. I started on-camera reporting a few months before I finished at UCLA, and continued as a freelancer for another year after graduation.
I decided to attend law school to develop extra skills and gain more credibility in the sports business world. I knew if I decided to go back to reporting, I could also be a legal analyst. While at Chapman, I was an active officer of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society and did whatever I could to build my resume for a future in the sports industry. I made it no secret among my classmates and friends that I wanted to work in sports.
One day, I was researching events in Orange County and ran across a sports and business symposium that was being put on by UCI’s business school. I purchased my ticket without knowing anyone else who was attending. Before I went, I decided to create a personal business card with my information on it, including my educational background at UCLA and Chapman. At the conclusion of the symposium, I waited in line with 15 other people to shake hands with one of the speakers, who happened to be an NFL agent. I spoke to him for about two minutes, gave him my card, and told him I would love to intern for him one day if the opportunity ever presented itself. He said they receive about 1,000 internship applications each year but that he would keep me in mind. I walked away thinking, “Yeah, right.” Later that day, though, he met with one of his clients, who had also attended UCLA before playing in the NFL. The agent asked his client if he knew me and it just so happened that I had been friends with the client in college. To my absolute surprise, two days later I got a call from the agent to come in for an interview.
I worked for that agency in both a legal and marketing capacity for 18 months and had a wonderful experience. In the middle of my third year of law school, I got a call from another Chapman alumnus who had been a 3L when I was a 1L. He called to tell me his brother-in-law was looking to hire someone to be a sports marketing agent for his clients, and he asked if I would be interested. While initially I wasn’t too interested because I loved what I was doing at my current agency, I took a meeting because I firmly believe that doors open for reasons — and that you should pursue all opportunities. One month and a few meetings later, in January of 2007, I decided to sign on full-time with Landmark Sports Agency. I have been with that agency ever since.
What skills from law school helped you most in your career?
Law school teaches you to closely examine every side of a situation, argument, deal, or negotiation. There is always more than one way to approach things. In my field, it’s important that I understand both my clients’ needs and positions, and the needs and positions of the companies with whom I’m trying to do deals. I learned the value of doing research and thinking critically before I approach each deal. I also learned how to effectively present arguments and properly represent my clients.
What advice would you give to current students?
My advice is to enjoy law school as much as possible. Enjoy the flexible schedule and getting to know your classmates, including those in the grades above and below you. Network with them; become their friends. You never know when or how your paths will cross in the future. Also, take advantage of the other academic and professional networking opportunities available to you as a student. Chapman University offers many opportunities for students to hear well-known speakers or participate in small groups. Just because you’re a law student doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time at the law school. Get a calendar of business school or film school events, speakers, etc. Attend an undergraduate business or film school symposium. If you see a class topic at the University that looks interesting to you, ask the professor if you can sit in on the class. Attend a business school mixer; or better yet, take the initiative to organize a mixer between the law school and business school. Networking is the key to professional success, and there’s no better place to network than at your own school!
Also, you get out of law school what you put into it. If you don’t care that much about it, and don’t make efforts to embrace the culture and resources available to you, then it won’t do much for you.
What is your favorite memory from your time in law school?
My favorite personal memory was meeting my best friend. It was the first day of my 2L year and there were a few new transfer students in our class. I saw a woman standing off in the corner by herself while everyone else was talking among themselves, catching up on summer activities. I left my group and introduced myself to her and she and I have been best friends ever since. We’ve traveled the world together, started our careers together, lived together, been maids of honor in each other’s weddings, and now I’m the godmother to her children. On a personal level, meeting her has been the best takeaway from law school.
My favorite academic or professional memories are: getting to work with Professor (now Dean) Parlow on my 3L paper on sports agents, planning the Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium, planning the J. Reuben Clark Society’s Symposium, and taking Trial Practice with Judge Rogan.
What did you find most surprising about your time at Chapman?
Going into law school, I heard horror stories about how difficult it would be and how professors want to fail everyone. I was surprised to find that my professors had a vested interest in my success and were very accommodating (within the standards of fairness to the class). They took the time to get to know me and to help me if I was struggling. They genuinely wanted me to succeed.