Applying for a career in law is just the beginning of working out where your career in that sector will take you. Within law there are numerous different practice areas, each with their own trends, focus areas and specialist firms. We’ve pulled together our bright guide to sports law to help you get an overview of this diverse and competetive sector.
Firstly, what is sports law?
While there are lawyers who specialise in sport, sports law is in fact the application of many legal disciplines to the sports sector, such as corporate, commercial, dispute or regulatory law. A career in sports law can therefore involve many different kinds of work.
The type of work undertaken will depend therefore on what your legal speciality might be; if you specialise in contract law you may find yourself advising a club on the contract with their new hire, a dispute lawyer could be working on litigation dealing with a sponsorship arrangement between a brand and an athlete.
What is the work like?
Sports law often deals with high-profile cases, involving well-known organisations and public figures, not to mention very large amounts of money. For issues related to seasonal deadlines and large events, such as contracts, lawyers work to tight timescales and the hours can be long at times of high workload.
Who can do it?
Nearly every area of the law can be practiced in a sports context, so sports lawyers will normally start off in an specific area of practice and then move into the sports sector. The sector is niche, and highly lucrative, so the competition for work is very high.
While a an appreciation of sport is important in the work, more important is a strong understanding of the sector itself. Lawyers need to be able to offer provide pragmatic, commercial solutions for their clients, and be able to treat sport as a business as well as their passion.
How do I get into sports law?
The first step to being a sports lawyers is to gain experience and expertise in an applicable field. It is important to bear in mind that, given the competition for work in the field, many lawyers who work in sport do not necessarily do so exclusively.
In order to strengthen your position when moving into the sector you could consider pro-bono work for athletes, clubs, governing bodies or representative associations. You could also look for work experience with a local or regional sports law association. This is a great way to gain an understanding of the behind the scenes working of sports bodies and governance processes.
Another worthwhile avenue is joining the British Association for Sport and Law (BASL) who host events and seminars, which are an excellent opportunity to build networks and gain tips.
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