Hey Reddit. My name is Bryce Blum and I left a big corporate law firm a couple years ago to focus my entire legal career around the esports industry, which ultimately culminated in me launching the world's first dedicated esports law firm this week. I also write about the legal and business side of esports for ESPN and am pretty active on Reddit. I’ve done AMAs on most major esports subreddits, but I’ve never ventured over to the big leagues before. Since it’s the start of the new year and I haven’t done an AMA in a while, I figured now was as good a time as any to try. So, ask away! I’m happy to talk about my career as well as anything and everything related to the esports industry.

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DISCLAIMER: Information exchanged in this forum does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post any information that you consider to be personal or confidential. It is possible this post could be considered attorney advertising, but it is not my purpose to solicit an individual or group to become a client. I will give only GENERAL legal information in this post. Specific facts, applicable law, and other considerations will always affect every circumstance, and thus you should always seek the advice of an attorney on every specific situation before moving forward. I’m an American attorney licensed in Washington State.

Comments: 98 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

VideoGameAttorney25 karma

As the guy who often works across the table from you, I just wanted to say congratulations on your new endeavor and I'm glad the owners are using someone who believes mutually beneficial relationships are best for both sides. But hey, it's an AMA, so here's my question:

How do you feel that nearly every attorney I work against who represents a team has stolen been inspired by your contract?

esportslaw10 karma

Thanks for the kind words, Ryan.

Mostly, I feel proud. When I started in this industry player contracts were not at all customized to the unique relationship between an esports team and its players. In fact, they often weren't even in writing. I sat down with a former pro player (/u/snoopeh) and basically interviewed him for hours in order to fully understand those dynamics, then I spent 20+ drafting and have constantly edited my templates since then. If I do nothing else in esports, I'm proud that a complex, balanced, and thorough template is now used by more than 1000 players and their teams.

All that being said, I have to admit that the fact that there are a handful of lawyers out there charging clients for work they didn't do and representing it as their own isn't the greatest feeling in the world. This is particularly true because there have been many instances of those other lawyers (or their clients) changing my contracts in a way I wouldn't approve of and then leaving my name in the notice section!

grumpypenguin17 karma

Do you agree with players and teams using twitlonger to make public statements or should they use more formal ways for those types of things?

esportslaw10 karma

I'm torn on this. Generally speaking, I think the esports industry could afford to level up its professionalism in certain areas. Public drama is definitely one of them. We air our dirty laundry as a matter of course, and that's scary for people on the outside who could want to invest, sponsor, etc. These people/entities will play a pivotal role in our future growth, so we need to care what they think (at least, I think we should).

On the flip side, one of the best parts of the esports industry is the connectivity between fans and their heroes. Our industry doesn't exist in a black box and people feel a genuine connection to the teams, players, streamers, casters, etc in a way that just doesn't exist in traditional sports. Twitlonger is a part of that culture and I would hate to see us abandon this altogether as we continue transitioning into the mainstream.

Semocratic_Docialist5 karma

How do you protect your customers data at rest? Do you email your customers sensitive documents to them or do you have your customers obtain sensitive documents from your servers?

esportslaw3 karma

I can say that I'm careful about it and have set up an infrastructure that complies with the Washington State Bar Association's guidelines. I don't want to get too specific though - if someone ever did want to hack me, I don't want to give them a system roadmap.

SurrealEffects2 karma

How big is your staff? And do you need someone to boss around and be an office bitch?

esportslaw3 karma

Haha, I have an accountant and a bookkeeper, but they're external. So right now the firm is just me. I'll be hiring another lawyer really soon, but not looking for admin at the moment. Sorry!

schnook1212 karma

Why are you the better twin?

esportslaw2 karma

I'm taller

CatsPajamasSC22 karma

Hey Bryce, been a pleasure working with you in general. Couple of questions that have been on my mind about representation in the industry:

1.) Why is it that big firms seem to be warming to esports at a glacial pace? Will esports continue to be dominated by endemic providers?

2.) What are the biggest needs from a legal perspective in esports? Just more manpower (lawyers), a community push for more regulation in the scene, something I'm not thinking of?

esportslaw6 karma

Thanks a lot!

1) as fast as esports is growing, it's still an incredibly small industry. When you remove actual game/in-game content sales (which you should, because that's traditional video game work, not esports work), the market cap for the industry is under $1 Billion. That's pretty small for a big firm to care about. Some are better and going with market trends and will be early adopters, but in general I don't think of big law firms as innovative or inclined to take risks.

2) It completely depends on whose needs you're talking about. Players have generally been slow to seek legal advice, which is the root cause of so many problems. Some ecosystems have a fair amount of regulation (e.g. League of Legends) whereas others have very little (e.g. CSGO). This has pros and cons for all the key stakeholders (players, teams, third party organizers, and publishers). This question is super complicated; I could literally spend hours trying to write a full answer. In fact, i kinda already have. Check out this first article in a series I wrote on power dynamics in esports for ESPN: http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/15577117/power-dynamics-esports-role-publisher. If you like it, I've already written a couple more and will be doing more this year as well.

MarioPL982 karma

What was Your the weirdest, funniest case?

esportslaw2 karma

I'm thinking about this. Nothing jumps out at me.

Ardonas2 karma

What would you recommend law students who are interested in esports do to build the skills/background required to work in the field? Are media/entertainment/sports law programs worthwhile? What other fields intersect with what you do?

esportslaw2 karma

It's really a combination of entertainment, sports, and business law applied in a fun new context. I'd recommend taking as many related, interesting classes as you can in law school, but more importantly you need to try to find a job that will help you build relevant skills and expertise. The reality is that law school doesn't really prepare you to practice; you need to get relevant hands-on training. Speaking personally, that meant doing various sports and general entertainment work (I did the talent deals and various other projects for a few big movies) and then ultimately applying what I learned to the esports industry.

Novxz1 karma

Papaya or Kiwi?

esportslaw2 karma

kiwi for sure... can't say I've had a lot of access to good papaya though

Lolrskates1 karma

Congrats, Bryce!

My question is - What do you think the most important contract for an esports athlete is?

esportslaw1 karma

Definitely their player contract. Though that's not really a tough call because most players don't have independent sponsorship deals so their player contract is the only one they sign (aside from a Twitch streaming deal, which is just a template they're not negotiating).

Semocratic_Docialist1 karma

Are you afraid of automation influencing your practice?

esportslaw3 karma

Do you mean services like legal zoom? If so, not really. Most of my work is too niche for automation services to do them well enough to use.

kollock1 karma

Congrats on the new firm. What (if any) impact might ESG have on the progress of the PRC? As an attorney in a far less sexy field, I was hoping the PRC would eventually serve as a public resource that would give outsiders a better look at the nuts and bolts of the contractual aspect of the esports industry. Somewhat surprising how difficult it is to find current specimen docs in the wild.

esportslaw1 karma

Shouldn't have any impact on the PRC at all. We have a full time management team building the site, selecting service providers, organizing content, etc behind the scenes. Stephen and I still help out but it's meant to run on it's own. Can't wait for it to launch sometime within the next couple months.

gusmoreno151 karma

Congrats for trying something new and on your own. Do you play esports yourself?

P. S. Would you consider hiring a Mexican Lawyer who specializes in International Law?

esportslaw2 karma

Of course! There's no way I could do what I do if I wasn't an authentic gamer/esports fan. I tend to focus on one game at a time. Currently deep into Overwatch.

And sorry to say I wouldn't have a need for that atm.

tazethegod1 karma

Hey Bryce, first off I would like to extend my congratulations to you on your new endeavor working with the biggest names in eSports, and knowing you for a long time, I'm happy your the one that is the first to do something like this.

As the owner of what I would consider a very well known organization within eSports and gaming entertainment, what would you recommend to those trying to make the most out of 2017 for their brand regarding partnerships, advertising and media, as well as players? Also what do you think the majority of eSports needs to do in order to build a relationship and a image that will reflect positively to those who still believe eSports is not a sport?

esportslaw2 karma

Thanks man!

For branding/partnerships, you have to focus on growing your reach and adding value for existing partners. It's much easier to sell other brands if you have real success stories.

In terms of the scene as a whole, I think we need more professional in a number of areas. I'm going to pain esports with a broad brush here, and I know there are a number of exceptions. But these are macro problem areas not isolated cases. We need to stop breaching contracts as if they don't matter. We need to stop airing our dirty laundry in public. And we need to build an infrastructure for each competitive ecosystem that supports growth and creates predictable outcomes for various types of behavior.

goldandguns1 karma

How much are egamers making such that it's financially viable for you to be doing this?

goldandguns1 karma

Okay so that's one, and is also the largest ever. What's more standard for people in the upper echelon.

esportslaw2 karma

Depends on the game. Six figures is pretty common at this point for players in tier 1 esports.

goldandguns1 karma

What kind of legal needs are typical for these people? How do you reach them?

esportslaw2 karma

I do a lot of player contracts, endorsement deals, streaming deals, and general corporate work.

Usually they reach me. My network is pretty broad at this point so I get my work from referrals.

[deleted]1 karma


esportslaw2 karma

Thanks very much! I've phased out of CSGO for OW at the moment, but I'm sure I'll be back. I tend to deep dive into games and focus on one at a time, but I've cycled into and out of CS since I was like 14. I love that game. Something so pure about it.

Gamerhcp1 karma

What's your favourite food?

Which Dota team is your favourite and why is it Liquid?

What's your stance (don't really see a law stance on this but a stance from an avid esports follower/whatever) on the recent mini-scandal regarding EG dismissing, for the lack of a better word, HuK and Incontrol?

Could Seahawks do it (win superbowl) once again?

esportslaw3 karma


It actually is Liquid!

I think the EG situation is really weird. As someone who works a lot behind the scenes, I always feel like I shouldn't comment if I don't have all the facts.

I don't think so. They're too hurt and they can't block. Losing ET was the death knell imo. This is the rational part of my brain talking. The other part is convinced they'll peak and Russell will go god mode.

nicematt901 karma

Hypothetical Q: Iama semi pro gamer and signed up for an online competition that promises a cash reward. I won but 3 months later have not received my pay...What should I do first?

esportslaw1 karma

Generally speaking, the legal system in the US isn't set up to sue someone over a small amount of money (small claims courts exist, but they're limited in jurisdiction). Whether it's unpaid tournament winnings or unpaid salaries from teams, it can be almost impossible for players in the amateur scene to recover owed money. Sorry I don't have a more positive outlook on this.

ballin20131 karma

How do you feel about the Sean Gares and TSM situation? I am trying to understand both sides. It seems like Sean was trying to break a part of the contract. How do you see the situation?

esportslaw13 karma

I represent TSM so it would be a conflict of interest for me to comment on this publicly. Sorry.

h3r4ld1 karma

As a member of "professional" esports, I can't help but wonder: what (if any) exposure have you had to simracing (particularly, as an esport)? Even amongst enthusiast hobbies, it's a very niche market, so I'm curious as to what the rest of the industry hears / knows about it.

esportslaw1 karma

Can't say I know anything about it, sorry.

doomrah1 karma

how do you get compensated?

esportslaw2 karma

I bill hourly and sometimes do flat rate depending on the project.

BigodeDosTouros1 karma

Hey, so what difficulties have you found by walking on an unmarked territory that its the esports?

Wish you the best of lucks for the future!

esportslaw1 karma

Biggest difficulty is that the industry is a constant state of flux. There really aren't industry standards from a legal perspective, which means we're actively creating them as we go and I play a big role in that. This is probably my favorite part about my job, but it also means that controversies are relatively common because various stakeholders are advocating for their own interests in a vacuum of infrastructure and the industry literally never sleeps. I just took my first vacation in more than 3 years and I wound up working for 80% of it.

AnEternalSkeptic1 karma

Hey Bryce!

What unique challenges do you expect to arise from esports? What I'm trying to ask is more along the lines of dealing dealing with scenarios that don't have precedent or require a very detailed understanding of the nature of internet/gaming culture, as opposed to contract or player representation scenarios.

Do you have any fun stories of older lawyers or judges that you've interacted with who didn't understand internet/gaming culture?

esportslaw7 karma

Well, I haven't had to interact with any judges about an esports matter, but older lawyers can get interesting...

I once had a lawyer call on behalf of a player who was offered a contract by one of my team clients. This lawyer knew nothing about esports (she was the player's father's business attorney) and she basically just screamed at me saying the whole thing must be a scam and how dare we try to pull this crap. Best part is, she was Canadian and called me in the middle of Thanksgiving.

Woodddyyyy1 karma

Hey Bryce, congrats on starting your new firm! I'm an aspiring CPA and I was wondering if you had any idea of the demand for tax services in the esports industry? I would love to get involved at some point. All the best with your new firm.

esportslaw1 karma

Thanks very much! There is definitely demand for all types of professional services in esports, including for a CPA. The hardest part for you is going to be separating yourself from the market. There are so many people out there who want to work in esports and they're all trying to get their foot in the door at the same time..

ClopinLoL1 karma

Hello Bryce, I have been following your work through Twitter and other means for quite some time now. I am thoroughly excited for this breakthrough you have made!

I have considered returning to school to study law but I don't believe I want to make that commitment quite yet. I would love the opportunity to help IME grow; would there be work for a business degree holding-eSports loving-hard working individual such as myself?

Thanks for your time on this AMA

esportslaw1 karma

I can't say I have a need for someone like this at the moment, but I appreciate the offer!

J2theP301 karma

Hey Bryce,

What would you suggest to students looking to go to law school (currently a Junior in College majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations) and work in the area of esports law? I am very passionate about esports and I believe working in the legal realm would be very intriguing.

esportslaw2 karma

Take things one step at a time. I also wouldn't go to law school if the only way you'd enjoy participating law is if you do esports work. This is a very niche legal job. I'd only go if you have a general enjoyment for the law and the type of career a lawyer has.

cazique1 karma

To follow up on this, how would you describe your average workday? How much time do you spend on the phone versus looking up case law or drafting contracts? Ideally, how many hours a week would you work?

esportslaw2 karma

Most of my day is on calls or drafting/revising contracts. I basically never have to look up case law anymore - I did a lot as a litigator, but transactional attorneys don't have much use for it.

I work two jobs - I run a law firm and I'm an EVP at a new age sports agency co-managing the esports division. I work 80-100 hour per week and basically don't take vacation ever (I took my first one in 3 years this winter, and while it was nice I worked like 80% of the time I was there). I imagine things will cool down eventually, but I'm still very much in building mode and I always have a backlog even with the insane hours.