50 for 50 Spotlight: Rachel Luba (JD ’16)

“The very first baseball agent I talked to while at UCLA said to me, very bluntly, ‘You’re a female. You’re not exactly welcome in this industry…if you want any credibility, you better get a law degree.’ And that’s really all it took. I walked out of that meeting with my eyes set on law school.”

The “traditional route” was never going to suit Rachel Luba. An experienced attorney, Rachel now sits at the helm of her new agency, Luba Sports, where she works as a certified player-agent for the Major League Baseball Players Association. In this role, Rachel works with players at various stages of their careers, negotiating contracts, conducting salary arbitrations, and offering athletes the opportunity to build their personal brands. In a recent interview with Beyond the Box Score, Rachel said, “With the launch of Luba Sports, I am proud to take a step forward as a female in this industry. I understand that I may be seen as an underdog, but I am okay with that – I have always thrived in that role.”

Growing up, Rachel competed as an elite-level gymnast where she learned discipline and perseverance through 6-to-8-hour training days balanced with a full academic course load. The only way to manage, she explains, was to learn exceptional discipline and effective time management, skills that would eventually translate to law school. 

Gymnastics played a formative role in teaching Rachel to be a heavy-hitter in her career as a certified player-agent for Major League Baseball, an industry otherwise dominated by males: “I spent my entire life falling, but it was always followed by getting right back up and finishing strong. This has helped me deal with adversity in every aspect of my life, whether it be in my studies or my career. It has taught me to never shy away from a challenge but rather to embrace it. It has taught me that you rarely get something perfect and have success the first time—instead, you fail (and fall) your way to success. Without this mentality, I don’t think I would have been able to stay as focused and determined to break into the industry that has pushed back on me as much as it has because of my gender.”

Rachel explains, “I applied to law school for the sole purpose of becoming a baseball agent—all of my personal statements talked about this goal. The very first baseball agent I talked to while at UCLA said to me, very bluntly, ‘You’re a female. You’re not exactly welcome in this industry…if you want any credibility, you better get a law degree.’ And that’s really all it took. I walked out of that meeting with my eyes set on law school.”

With regard to the challenge of being a female in the sports industry, Rachel recounts, “There was a point during the beginning of law school, where I considered going by my initials, ‘RE’—or ‘Ari’—as it had a more gender-neutral sound to it.” Understanding the reality that her gender would pose a credibility challenge of which Rachel was constantly reminded, she charged forward with even greater gusto to achieve her goal. Rachel describes, “People were very blunt when it came to telling me that my gender was an issue. I even had one agent who I was on the phone with and trying to get a summer internship with for my 2L summer, who told me, ‘I just googled a picture of you and now I’m even more certain that you’re not going to be able to be a baseball agent—maybe if you were 60 with blue hair or something, maybe then you’d have a chance…but there’s just no way that a female like you will be able to do this.'”

Rachel counts Professor Maureen Weston among her mentors while in law school. “Professor Weston was always very supportive of my desire to pursue being a baseball agent. I realized that most professors tended to prefer that I at least consider going the traditional law route, but she always encouraged me to continue pursuing this career path, despite it being a bit more non-traditional.”

Ever year, the Tulane Baseball Arbitration Competition is attended by a handful of Pepperdine students, and Rachel set her sights on being a member of the team prior to even enrolling. Rachel calls her selection to this team “the single most important thing I ever did during my time at Pepperdine. The connections I made from that competition ended up being instrumental in helping me  break into the industry.”

When asked what she hopes to see for the next fifty years of history-making at Pepperdine Caruso Law, Rachel expressed her desire to see the Entertainment and Sports program grow even more. “Being in Los Angeles,” she says, “Pepperdine is in a prime location for sports and entertainment opportunities. By encouraging and fostering those students who are interested in pursuing a career in these areas, I think Pepperdine would create a unique advantage for the school and help set it apart from the handful of other law schools that advertise having sports and entertainment law programs.”

In addition to her Juris Doctor, Rachel earned a certificate in Entertainment, Media, and Sports Law as well as a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. For more information on the EMS curriculum at Pepperdine Caruso Law, please visit our website.