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Posted April 12, 2022

What is Sports Law?

Sports LawIf you’re an avid sports fan, at some point you may have thought that being a Sports Lawyer sounds like a dream career.

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But what does the daily work of a sports lawyer actually entail? What kind of qualifications, including LLMs, can help you develop a niche in this sector of the law? In this piece we explore what sports law work actually looks like, and how a career in this sector could be more than just a lofty goal. Instead it could become the dream career that you make your reality.

Scope of sports law work

Firstly, as a sports lawyer you may act for both individuals and sports corporations. This means you’d dabble in a variety of legal work areas. You might use your contract law to help manage employment contracts for clubs and athletes and advise athletes on intellectual property rights for managing endorsement deals. You might have to tap on commercial law when managing issues related to personal or sports club property matters, and even advise players on personal matters like wills and taxes. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to be stuck in a rut doing the same thing every day and is excited by the prospect that every work day is unique, then this might be a segment of the law you might choose to specialise in.  

“Profile” of a sports lawyer

What does a typical sports lawyer “look like”? When it comes to niche fields in the law, it can be hard to figure out if you’re the right fit. Many attorneys working in sports law are typically sports fans, and several play sports themselves. They are interested in the future of sports teams and want to provide athletes with the legal support necessary to ensure that they can navigate the commercial aspects of being a professional sportsperson well, and that it remains a viable career option. Sports lawyers are interested in assuring the present and the future of the sports world. Also, you could be an in-house counsel for a specific sports team or work in private practice and help clients from a variety of sporting backgrounds.

What specialist knowledge does a sports lawyer need?

A sports lawyer needs to be familiar with the sports regulatory framework in their jurisdiction, and need to know how to advise athletes on issues like medical negligence and sports injury compensation claims. You’d also need to be well-versed in issues specific to sports such as selection disputes when it comes to creating a team for international sporting competitions, and anti-doping. You’d also benefit from a strong foundation in business and commercial law knowledge. While that might seem like a lot to wrap your head around, fortunately, several institutions offer training in sports and entertainment law. There are even some online offerings so you can specialise in this sector via distance learning. If you’re keen to work in this area, a sports law specialisation might just help you get a foot in the door.

Why sports law?

If you show that you’re skilled and get the attention of high-net-worth clients, working as a sports lawyer could be a lucrative trade. If you’re a die-hard sports lover, this could be a chance to spend your time dabbling in a section of legal work that is meaningful and close to your heart. We can’t deny the thrill of helping influence a field you’re passionate about, sounds like a dream. Also, sports law is constantly evolving, making it a dynamic field to work in. Also, with the rising number of people keen to join the legal profession, carving a niche for yourself could be a good way to ensure your relevance and longevity in the legal profession. On top of that, the preeminent issues that athletes and sporting clubs face are continually changing with the times. So, if you’re looking for a career that challenges you and helps you grow, then this could be an option to seriously consider.

In conclusion…

Highly specialised areas in the law can have a polarising effect on lawyer-hopefuls. Many prefer to stick to more general areas of practice that they perceive as more widely employable, or as having more transferable skills. However, if you’ve a strong interest in a particular area of practice, specialisation is one way to create your own career path. Sports law is one such area. Thankfully, because of the diversity of areas that sports law dips its toes into, you can apply legal know-how from a variety of areas to your work. As for the sports-specific information that you’d have to familiarise yourself with, the field is established enough that there are postgraduate level options that can help you boost your career as a sports lawyer, and that’s why a sports law career could be the next step in your legal journey.

Alisa student writerWriter: Alisa Maya is a graduate student at the UCL Institute of Education.

She is passionate about improving learning experiences for all through EdTech.

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