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.
He tutored basketball and football players while earning a bachelor’s degree at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
There were jobs at Leo Burnett and Darcy Bouzeos‘ sports agency before he earned his law degree at Northwestern University Pritzker Law School.
Stroth went to work for CSMG Sports and over the years handled endorsement and marketing deals for Donovan McNabb (NFL), Dwyane Wade (NBA) and Lovie Smith (now U. of I. football coach).
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 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 United Church of Christ on the South Side. Stroth “thinks the world” of the 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 cellphone. Now everyone’s documenting it.”
Carrie Lannon’s got a brand new thing
Carrie Lannon, a civic leader and public relations maven, has joined Dave Zapata‘s Zapwater Communications team.
“I’m passionate about branding, and my expertise is even more critical in the digital age,” says Lannon, who was national director for public relations at Ulta Beauty from 2010 to 2013. She took a break to travel and take classes in Spanish, meditation, improv and dance. She was trying “to figure out what I wanted to do next.”
Lannon’s and Zapata’s paths had crossed when she ran her own public relations firm before working at Ulta. Lannon specialized in the luxury, fashion and real estate industries — Tiffany & Co. and Mercedes-Benz were clients.
“I really connected with the way he approached agency work,” she says of Zapata, who calls Lannon’s accomplishments “outstanding” and says she’s “someone who I respect and trust.”
Lannon grew up in Detroit and landed in Chicago after graduating from Wayne State University. It was the 1980s, and she oversaw public relations for salons under the Gemby International brand.
She thought it would be a stepping stone to New York but fell in love with Chicago. Along with her work representing companies, she’s been an avid volunteer on the charity scene heading up galas and fundraisers.
New improv show features another Farley
A New York-based comedy troupe performing in Old Town has a familiar name in its cast. Tom Farley is a nephew of Chris Farley, the energetic comedian who worked at Second City before going on to Saturday Night Live fame. He died in 1997 after a drug overdose.
Tom is performing in Batsu! It’s a Japanese game show improv performance with antics involving body sushi and electric-shock collars. It plays Thursdays and Fridays at Kamehachi restaurant.
Chris Farley had three brothers, one of whom is Tom’s dad, Tom Farley Jr. Father and son worked for a time running the Chris Farley Foundation, a nonprofit that used improv to encourage teens to say no to drugs. A common improv phrase is “Yes, and . . . .”
Tom Farley, 22, grew up in Connecticut and moved to Wisconsin when he was 12. There he took up acting. “I like working on a team,” he says of improv.
Making people laugh is the real joy, though. He plans on doing standup in Chicago soon.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.