After working with athletes, attorney pivots to the streets
September 6th, 2016
Chicago sports agency attorney Andrew Stroth is stepping back from the late-night phone calls from needy players, photo shoots gone awry and the ups and downs of working with wide-eyed millionaire athletes.
“If I’m going to work around the clock, I want to do something that has purpose,” he says.
Stroth started Action Injury Law Group, a small law firm that handles civil rights cases against police and municipalities. Its current list of high-profile clients includes the family of Justus Howell, who was shot dead by Zion police.
Stroth, 48, juggles the new firm with his work as of-counsel attorney at Handler Thayer, a corporate and estate-planning law firm. He also handles contracts for athletes and TV personalities.
The Chicago lawyer grew up in LaGrange playing basketball and idolizing the NBA’s Isiah Thomas and Glenn “Doc” Rivers.
At University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , Stroth tutored basketball and football players and set out to work on the business side of sports.
He landed at Leo Burnett after graduation and then with Chicago sports agent (and former Oprah Winfrey adviser) Darcy Bouzeos.
Realizing a law degree was essential in representing athletes, Stroth enrolled at Northwestern University Pritzker Law School and, simultaneously, started his own sports agency.
Bears defensive tackle Chris Zorich was Stroth’s first client.
After law school, Stroth was hired by CSMG Sports, which has some 150 athletes under its umbrella. Over the years he’s worked with Donovan McNabb (NFL), Dwyane Wade (NBA) and Lovie Smith (now U. of I. football coach) on endorsement and marketing deals.
Michael Vick, the NFL free agent who served time for dog-fighting, was a client, too. “Everyone needs a second chance,” Stroth says.
Former NFL player Ronnie Lott teamed up with Stroth on a few business deals and calls Stroth a “good leader” who’s also flexible when it comes to handling demanding clients.
Robin Robinson, who’s among the local TV personalities who worked with Stroth on their employment contracts, says “He’s honest, personable and he really cares.” Robinson is now director of community affairs for the Chicago Police Department and says there’s a need for Stroth’s expertise in under-served communities.
Stroth lives in Evanston with his wife, Janel, a corporate financial analyst, and their three school-age children.
He credits Kenard Gibbs, a friend and an executive with BET Network in Chicago, with connecting him to Trinity Church of Christ on the South side. Stroth “thinks the world” of Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., the church’s pastor emeritus and former pastor to President Barack Obama.
Stroth speaks like a pastor when he talks about wanting his small legal team “to bring law to the street.”
He says violence prompted by police clashes isn’t new. “The only thing that’s changed is the cell phone. Now everyone’s documenting it.”