Dow Lohnes P.L.L.C.
Attorneys at Law
Adisa Bakari, 38, is listed in Washingtonian magazine’s “Who’s Who in Washington’s Sports Business Industry.” President of the sports and entertainment division at Dow Lohnes P.L.L.C., one of the nation’s most prestigious law firms, he runs the division as a separate business within the firm. “My chief responsibilities include negotiating all player contracts and marketing contracts on behalf of our NFL clients,” he says. “I also oversee day-to-day operations of the practice.”
In an industry where the number of African-Americans is negligible and the glass ceiling is a constant, Bakari’s career trajectory is an example of how one goes from being an employee in a department to running an entire division in the same firm. After earning an undergraduate degree in political science from Delaware State University and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, Bakari joined Dow Lohnes in 1998 as a compensation and benefits attorney. In 2002, aided by a combination of skill, luck, sheer moxie and a commitment to always do his best, he created the firm’s sports and entertainment division and became its president, with about a dozen employees reporting to him. “For African-Americans, sometimes the glass ceiling is concrete,” he says. “That’s the primary reason why I always pack a sledgehammer as I travel up the corporate ladder.”
Bakari represents dozens of high-profile clients, including former and current professional football players and other athletes. He is certified as an agent by the National Football League Players Association and by the National Basketball Players Association; is a member of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association, Sport Lawyers Association and National Bar Association; and is president of the Wisconsin Black Law Alumni Association. Married with four children, he says his wife and grandmother are his biggest advocates and contributors to his success.
Favorite comedian: Vince Vaughn
Favorite singer: Stevie Wonder
Favorite book: “There Is a River” by Vincent Harding