By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
When he first arrived at Brooklyn Law School, Dean Nick Allard promised to adjust the approach to job placement and career choices among law students. Allard stated that in his role as dean of the law school, he would “encourage aspiring lawyers to look into alternative legal careers for which a Juris Doctorate is useful.”
A Washington, D.C. lawyer by trade, Allard envisioned bringing “D.C. to Brooklyn.” So far Allard has lived up to his promise. Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary, spoke to law students about the role of media in the 2012 election, and a former associate Solicitor General of the U.S. practiced oral arguments before students and faculty.
Furthering this trend, Allard invited former Congressman and sports star, Tom McMillen, to speak to students during an Entertainment and Sports Law education program.
McMillen, a former player for the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, brought an interesting perspective to the idea of alternative and diversified careers. At 6’11’’ McMillen has conquered the worlds of sports, academics, politics, and business. As a high school senior and the youngest member to sit on President Nixon’s President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1970, McMillen instantly became engaged in the confluence of sports and politics.
He attended the University of Maryland, where he was a three-time basketball All-American and an academic All-American. In the mid-1970s, McMillen passed up the NBA draft to follow a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford in the U.K.
McMillen notes that his time spent in England further informed his beliefs of terrorism and homeland security. “While in London, I was a temporary resident of a country facing constant terrorist attacks from the IRA,” McMillen said in an interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
But this would not be the first time that McMillen would experience terrorism first hand. In 1972, McMillen was the captain of the United States Olympic basketball team during the infamous Munich games, where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
McMillen’s experience with terrorism both in London and in Munich left an ineffaceable impression. "I always said to myself, this is going to come to America. I was shocked it took till ’93 really for the first World Trade Center incident," McMillen told the Wall Street Journal.
"Then when 9/11 occurred, I was convinced that this was going to be a huge effort by our government to fight global terrorism," he said. McMillen eventually went into the anti-terrorism business, producing counter-terrorism devices and expertise.
Having served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, McMillen decided to try his hand at Washington politics. Before retiring from the NBA, McMillen announced his decision to run for a Congressional seat in his home state of Maryland. “Former [Knicks] teammate and fellow Congressman Bill Bradley gave me the push I needed to enter into politics,” McMillen said.
“I am constantly aware of the interconnection between the law and my day-to-day dealings,” McMillen noted. “Whether in Congress, where I was instrumental in making laws, or in my business affairs, where contracts or other agreements have to be drafted and reviewed, law is all around me.
“I think that having a legal education is a necessity,” McMillen continued. “That is not to say, however, that the world needs more lawyers,” McMillen said with a trace of sarcasm. McMillen’s comments regarding the value of a legal education without the requirement for a law license underscores Dean Allard’s push to expand the reach of a law school education.
“Legal minds are needed in all aspects of business and politics,” said Allard. “Students can have successful careers with a J.D. as much as they can with a full law license.”
McMillen dared not leave Brooklyn without attending a game at the new Barclays Center. Watching his alma mater, the University of Maryland, play the University of Kentucky Wildcats was “a phenomenal experience,” McMillen said. “I have played for the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. MSG has nothing on Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The renaissance of Brooklyn is an amazing one.”