Entertainment attorney and sports agent David Wyatt has bright ideas
File folders stacked high, shelves filled with legal books and reference materials, the suit, the tie, the cufflinks, all leading to the feeling you will eventually be handed a Mont Blanc and a dotted line. But amid the sterile surroundings are signs of cool. A box set titled The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones, two framed Edwin McCain albums, a Denis Leary concert poster, a guitar silently leaning in the corner. The instant attorney David Wyatt welcomes you to his space in the Field House at West End, you wonder whether he’s a lawyer or a rock star.
“I was involved in a car crash when I was young and was sued,” Wyatt explains. “My lawyer was a man named Paul Foster who had a colorful flair in the courtroom. When I got a glimpse of litigation, I thought, this is pretty cool. That’s what got me headed toward law school.” A college athlete and musician, Wyatt wasn’t quite sure where his law studies would take him. “I was in a band at Clemson, and one of my band mates found out I was going to law school and said, ‘You should be an entertainment lawyer.’ I had never heard of that, but it sparked an interest, and I pursued it.”
As a partner in the firm Gleaton, Wyatt, Hewitt, P.A., Wyatt helps his clients navigate the complexities of intellectual properties and the various contractual agreements involved in the entertainment world. “As an entertainment lawyer, you’re either representing the company, the artist, or the songwriter,” says Wyatt. “You suss through the properties and make sure the agreements recognize the rights and hopefully clearly map out the obligations of the parties and the revenue streams.”
For athletes, Wyatt operates a separate company, Wyatt Sports. Wyatt has been an NFL agent for 18 years and a certified NFL Player’s Association contract advisor since 2002. “We do skill-development training for athletes from 8 to 18, and we’re an NFL management company, so we help players go from the college ranks through the draft,” says Wyatt. “We help them negotiate their deals with the pro teams and endorsements.”
Wyatt is also an adjunct professor at USC, teaching entertainment and sports law. “I have Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish come in and speak to my law class every year,” says Wyatt. “He’s a good friend of mine and will talk about how Hootie has a touring company, a company that owns the merchandise and trademarks, and another that handles the songwriting so they can diversify with respect to liability.”
Asked if New York or Atlanta might be better locations for his type of work, Wyatt says he’s perfectly happy in his hometown. “What I do as a lawyer is represent entrepreneurs. Greenville has the entrepreneurial spirit and folks working together to make the town better. To be part of something like that is a privilege and an honor.”