Member of the Month

August 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Petra Pocrníc Perica.

Petra Pocrníc Perica is an Academic Director at Swiss School of Business and Management as well as the Head of Sports Law.

                          

                               

We caught up with Petra with our series of quick questions.  You can view Petra’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

 How did you get involved in sports law?

I was first introduced to the sports law through my father’s work. Our family law office is one of the oldest law offices in the country passing through from my granddad to my father. My father’s passions were always Sport and the Law. When I was young, he would represent athletes and coaches. In those days, International Sports was very different but the purpose was the same as that today – to protect your client’s rights as best as possible.  When I started working as a lawyer, the younger generation would turn to me for legal assistance especially because my brother was a professional football player. This was the beginning of my career in sports law. It was a great platform for me to use the knowledge I gained as a child playing in my father’s office and my preference towards Transnational/ International Law.

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

My most memorable achievement would be establishing and contributing to the development of the Croatian Centre for Sports Law under the auspices of the Croatian Olympic Committee. This advanced into a national hub for Sports law such as being an avenue for dispute resolution, academic research and international co-operation to name a few. Even though Croatia is big in sports, prior to the establishment of the Centre, there was no platform for practitioners in the industry to exchange knowledge nor for athletes to learn about procedures available to them. The Centre for Sports Law includes associations such as the Appeal Committee and the Disciplinary Committee of which I am honoured to say that I serve as the Secretary General. The Centre for Sports also includes the council responsible for drafting procedure and enforcement and supervision hereof.

Any advice for someone trying to break in to the sector?

Advance yourself – Life Long Learning.

Sports is a live organism and a wheel that never stops turning. The laws regulating sport is just the same and with jurisprudence being such a crucial part of it, you should always be up to date with the changes that develop. A practical way to start would be to start small such as taking a pro bono client on and making yourself familiar with the sector.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Definitely time management because a lot of time is allocated to research.

Why did you decide to focus on anti-doping and safeguarding?

As I was appointed to the CAS ADD list, Anti-doping is my primary area of focus. My interest in this area stems from a combination of Public and Private Laws which regulates doping in sports and also, the fascinating features of Lex Sportiva which I consider most recognisable in the Anti-doping regulation and jurisprudence. On an everyday basis, I deal with various areas of Sports Law. This not only keeps my interest peeked but it also, allows to me to engage with various fields while not losing perspective.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

WISLaw is a great way to meet people who have the same interests. It provides you with an opportunity to always learn something new. There is no better place to be than to be surrounded by the brilliant women who hold similar interests and who support one another. 

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend time outdoors with my kids and family, playing golf or running. For me, this is a true meditation.

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what profession do you think you would have?

I would probably work in tourism. I have always been fascinated with travelling and meeting new people and cultures.

July 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Lindsay Brandon.

Lindsay Brandon, Associate Counsel, Law Offices of Howard L. Jacobs, California, USA.

                                                                                   

 We caught up with Lindsay with our series of quick questions.  You can view Lindsay’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

 How did you get involved in sports law?

After law school, I pivoted to freelance and remote work after a family emergency. I ended up writing for an online magazine where I explored the intersection of social justice, sports, and the law. Though I hadn’t considered sports law as a career while in law school, I decided I wanted to go back and get my LL.M. in the discipline. There, I met Howard Jacobs, who ended up hiring me as an intern, and eventually as his first associate.

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

Probably successfully resolving my first case on my own, which resulted in the anti-doping organization dropping a Whereabouts violation against my client who had become homeless. People often forget, particularly in the U.S., that not all athletes are wealthy and successful in Olympic Sports, so this was a huge win for me particularly given my prior background in public defense and social justice.

Any advice for someone trying to break in to the sector?

Be flexible with your career goals. Before ending up in my current job, I was unaware such a practice even existed. Also, be prepared to work harder than you imagined: sports law often not as glamorous as you might think.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

I lost my parents during and right after law school, so my career path was upended by that. I basically had to reset and restart the practice of law all over again, while my peers already had a few years of experience under their belts. I think that’s why my LL.M. program was so critical to my success in this field; I was surrounded by other people whose experience ranged from no law school at all to 15 years of practice in another field. It made me feel more comfortable to “start over”, so to speak.

Why did you decide to focus on anti-doping and safeguarding?

I think this area of sport law found me, rather than the other way around. Again, I was not really aware that such a practice existed, nor was I aware of the intricacies of administrative disciplinary laws that athletes faced. Originally, I entered my LL.M. program with the goal of working in-house or at a players’ union. But, given that there was no union for Olympic athletes in the U.S., there was plenty of demand for private athlete representation. While I began practicing almost exclusively in anti-doping, the addition of “SafeSport” in the U.S. has shifted my practice to also include a significant safeguarding caseload.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

Personally, WISLaw has always been a space for networking and friendships; I have been able to connect with attorneys halfway across the world for random legal questions. As an organization, it is a vital support system for women who may have to work twice as hard (or harder) to get where they are today in this industry; there are – simply stated – too many white men governing sport around the world.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to travel (hopefully more of that will come soon once the pandemic is under control), and get outside as much as possible. I enjoy hiking, cycling, swimming, diving, and running with my puppy that I just got a few months ago. I would say that the NFL and tennis are my favorite sports to watch.

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what profession do you think you would have?

Probably making wine or operating a bar. I worked in the service industry for several years, and part of me misses the social interactions and working with my hands.

June 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Aahna Mehrotra.

Aahna Mehrotra is a Founder of AM Sports Law and Management and a Partner at TMT Law Practice. 

                                                                        

 

We caught up with Aahna with our series of quick questions.  You can view Aahna’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

How did you get involved in sports law?

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

I played multiple sports starting the age of 5 and eventually ended up being chosen to represent the India Under-19 Cricket team, however had decided at a fairly young age (11) that I wanted to pursue law and therefore gave up my cricketing career to go to law school. I knew from the start that true happiness for me lay in uniting both my vocation (law) and passion (sport) and therefore chose to specialize in Sports Law.

 What is your most memorable achievement in the sector?

It’s hard to pick one but what I value the most is the faith my clients showed in me when I made the decision to start out on my own (2017) as a young lawyer. Some of the other achievements that I value in my career, is the opportunity to represent Mr. Sushil Kumar, India’s only two-time Olympic medalist or being appointed as one of the Chairperson’s of the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to break in to sports law?

Be Patient and Persistent – When I was starting out in 2011 (the Indian Premier League was pretty much the only Sports IP we had), a lot of people questioned my decision and suggested I pursue Entertainment and Media Law (developed fields of law in India) and do Sports Law (developing market) on the side. But I did not give into the pressure nor did I get frustrated about work being slow and scarce, instead I took time to learn more and more about the field – (i) pursued 2 masters; (ii) networked; (iii) worked in allied areas of law (Intellectual Property) which helped me hone my skills; (iv) of course did whatever little sports law work came my way; and (v) did not use monetary gains as a yardstick to evaluate my growth as a professional; but remained focused on my goal at all times, which is what led me to run a practice focused primarily on Sports Law.

What is the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

As the first female sports lawyer in India, it was hard, initially, to walk into a room full of men with raised eyebrows and questioning what a woman is doing in sport. Things have changed overtime, of course.

Why did you decide to focus on sports law?

In India, it is a developing area of law, and most sports lawyer do everything (from IP to Anti-Doping to working in the Player Transfer Market, including diversifying into gaming and betting laws). Therefore, there isn’t one specific area (under sports law) that I focus on – the practice is a 360 degree sports practice.

How have you found being a part of the WISLaw community?

WISLaw serves as a great platform to network (especially through the smaller conferences we host in different parts of the world). The lunch sessions in London before the LawInSport conference are one of my favorites. If I have a query pertaining to a specific jurisdiction, I can always reach out to a member who is happy to help. Further, it also gives you a fair amount of recognition by giving each member ample opportunity to speak at the conferences (and not just attend) they organize from time to time.

What do you do in your spare time?

My favorite sports are cricket and tennis and I continue to maintain that football is a professional hazard. Unlike when I was younger, when I would live eat sleep sport, I no longer watch as much sport in my spare time (as it feels like an extension of work). I listen to a lot of music and try and read a book (avoiding any form of screen time).

May 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Achta Mahamat Saleh .

Achta Mahamat Saleh is a Director of Legal Affairs & Compliance at Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF).

                                 

 

We caught up with Achta with our series of quick questions.  You can view Achta’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

How did you get involved in sports law?

I have started working in CAF in 2006 while finishing my Law studies (I have been studying Business Law). At this time I was in charge of a Development project called “Contract with Africa”. For the completion of my Master degree I had to choose a theme for my thesis. Seeing that there were no Legal Division in CAF, I have chosen the theme “Creation of the Legal Affairs Division of CAF’ for my thesis. That was my first contact with sports law as I had to go in depth to study how to effectively put into place said Legal Division of CAF. In 2008 I joined the FIFA Players Status Department where I worked for 2 years.

 What is your most memorable achievement in the sector?

After spending 2 years in FIFA Players’ Status Department, I went back to Chad. There I founded my own Legal Consultancy firm. We were mainly dealing with business law matters. I was not imagining coming back to the sport sector until in 2018 I joined CAF in the position of Director of Legal Affairs. We actually created the Legal Affairs & Compliance Division of CAF in 2018.

My most memorable achievement is to put effectively into place the Legal Affairs Division, using some inspiration from the thesis I wrote in the frame of my Master 2 degree. Today the Legal Affairs Division, after incredible challenge is fully working and we are handling as November 2019 all Compliance and Integrity matters as well. I humbly think this is a great step for the African football as in today’s world one cannot conduct successfully its work in the sport area without following all good governance rules and standards..

Do you have any advice for someone trying to break in to sports law?

Be prepared! I would say be ready to work hard. Be passionate and opened to learn. It is a great sector and I sincerely love what I do. However it is time consuming and stressful. Therefore being passionate about what you do will help.

What is the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

The greatest challenge I had to overcome is to convince the different structures of CAF of the need and importance of Legal. Also being a woman, I had to find ways to be directive without being judged “too aggressive”. Today thank God all is working smoothly and the Legal Affairs & Compliance Division has won the consideration of the different structures. We showed our availability and commitment to serve and it worked.

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Why did you decide to focus on sports law?

I always loved sports, and working in International Organizations. When joining CAF in 2006 I was really proud to be part of it. And the time spent in FIFA convinced me of my will to work into Sports. However, I was not at ease being so far from family. When in Chad, I acquired an important experience within the business sector, I have been working with National companies (Oil, Water). I also had the chance to have an experience in the political sector as I was appointed as a Constitutional Counselor. I can say today that all these experiences confirmed to me that the best place for me to be is in Africa, and in the Sports area. I am grateful to be able to serve my beloved continent on my position of Director of Legal Affairs and Compliance at CAF.

How have you found being a part of the WISLaw community?

My experience with WISLAW has been amazing! I had the chance to meet many women working into the sports area. Sharing experiences had help me to overcome some challenges that I have been facing. Furthermore, through WISLAW, I could get into touch with African women working into the sports area and this allowed me to have a network here in Africa. I worked already with some of them.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am a single mother of 2 boys aged 5 and 6 years old. When joining CAF they were 4 and 3 years old, therefore I can assure you I don’t have spare time. However, I always try to get some time to practice some self care: sports (I run), and I read (which is my passion).

April 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Beverley Agbakoba-Onyejianya .

Beverley is an Attorney-Mediator.

                                 

 

We caught up with Beverley with our series of quick questions.  You can view Beverley’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

How did you get involved in sports law?

I became actively involved in the practice of Sports Law from 2017 after years of working in regulatory and compliance in banking and capital markets. I had been running a youth football club called Lagos Tigers FC which activated my interest in the field. I decided to pursue sports law full time as it was a novel and niche practice area in Nigeria. The industry was largely disorganised, unstructured and in need of specialist lawyers and I wanted to make an impact in some way and drive change.

 What is your most memorable achievement in the sector?

It was when I got my first paying sports client as well as when I was invited to join the sports thematic industry committee group. As part of this policy group, I helped draft the revised National Sports Policy of 2020. Knowing how difficult it was to set up a new practice at that time, let alone in an area that is unknown, it seemed pretty daunting to me. I got over the fear eventually. With the support of the law firm, we have represented various clients in the sports industry including clubs, federations, commercial sports ventures as well as spearheading sports ADR.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to break in to sports law?

Breaking out into the sector actually is easier now than ever before as interest in the practice area is growing exponentially. Finding a good mentor in the area of sports law goes a long way. If I had a mentor in the early days, I may have quite possibly had an easier start. There are many good professional groups such as WISLaw that you can join as a newbie in order to form good networks and potentially strike up viable business relationships. I have benefitted immensely from networking more so during the pandemic.  Lastly, have a voice, don’t be afraid to advocate about areas you are passionate about. It could be getting more women into sport, championing for better player representation for female teams.

What is the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

This may sound strange but actually I had to overcome inbuilt fears and insecurities I had about being taken seriously as a sports lawyer. When I started the practice area was largely unheard of, I had just gotten called to the Nigerian bar having decided to pivot from the financial regulatory profession and also I am female in a male-dominated industry. I decided to just go for it and that was the beginning of new things for me. I have no regrets.

Why did you decide to focus on sports law?

I decided to focus on sports law because that’s where the demand seemed to come from. The sporting industry in Nigeria is heavily dominated by football and because I had already built up a small network in the football industry through my club it seemed like a natural alignment. I do take on a few clients in other areas of sport, such as gymnastics and swimming.

How have you found being a part of the WISLaw community?

WISLaw is a fantastic and much needed platform promoting not only gender diversity in sports law but it also acts as a space for female lawyers working in the sports law to grow and thrive.  It is really helpful to have platforms that promote women in sports given the gender imbalance. WISLaw has helped me build my profile and given me much needed visibility amongst my sports law peers that I would not ordinarily enjoy.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am a mom of three so my spare time tends to be limited but I support my youth football club and also, host a podcast show called “Develop Your A Game” which is available on Spotify, Google podcasts and Apple podcasts. It showcases inspiring people from the African continent or in diaspora doing brilliant and innovative things in their communities. I mentor young people interested in personal development and sports law. Finally, I love to write articles on sports and entertainment issues.

March 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Cassandra Heilbronn.

Cassandra is a Regulation Legal Manager in Sports & Management. 

 

                                   

 

We caught up with Cassandra with our series of quick questions.  You can view Cassandra’s LinkedIn profile here

 

How did you get involved in sports law?

I always had an interest in this area. I started by having a number of clubs as clients, representing their players judiciary proceedings, to becoming involved in governance and sponsorship matters.  When I started at a new firm, I developed a clear business plan by identifying synergies within the sports market.

 What is your most memorable achievement in the sector?

When I finally secured a client that I had been building a relationship with for over 12 months. This client was one I had as a target however, initially, I had no relationship with the client. I spent time strategically building a connection and finally received my first instructions from them on Christmas Eve.  It shows the importance of relationships rather than “selling”.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to break in to sports law?

Understand that Sports law is not encompassed  in only one area of law.  It encapsulates many areas of law Such as commercial law, admin law and employment law to name a few. Work out your strengths and what connects with you.  From this, build a business plan with clear action items so you can execute the strategy for (hopefully) success.

What is the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

Building relationships with potential clients particularly in Australia. Clients will brief who they know even if they are not satisfied with the work.  A client will not simply ‘jump ship’ to a new lawyer based on an initial meeting, and to be honest, I would not want a client to change lawyers so easily.  However, a challenge which may not be unique to sports law, is being able to show your work and worth as a lawyer in order to engage new clients and dedicating the time to building that relationship.

Why did you decide to focus on sports law?

This was an area of personal interest and an area which was not heavily saturated in the market I worked in.  Sports law was a perfect opportunity for me to build a practice while working within two industries I enjoy – law and sports.

How have you found being a part of the WISLaw community?

WISLaw has provided me with an instant overseas network of lawyers I could call on or refer work to.  Prior to this, I would have spent hours searching LinkedIn and tweeting to find a suitable lawyer.

What do you do in your spare time?

My spare time, funnily enough, involves sports.  Living in a ‘dry country’, spare time activities are quite different to the western world and with that means a higher focus on health and fitness. I concentrate on my boxing and maintaining my fitness.

February 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Yuri Yagi (Japan).

Yuri is an Arbitrator, Safeguarding Officer and Attorney at YAGI Law Office.

We caught up with Yuri with our series of quick questions.  You can view Yuri’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

How did you get involved in sports law?

When I was younger I was an athlete in Volleyball, Basketball, and Equestrian. Therefore, when I opened my own law firm I decided to focus on sports law.

 What is your most memorable achievement in the sector?

I would say it was when I served as a CAS ad-hoc arbitrator in the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018. It was my first time serving as a CAS arbitrator, and I learned a lot from that experience.

Do you have any advice for someone trying to break in to sports law?

I’d advise them to do their best at every task. It will bring them more opportunities.

What is the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

It was challenging to find opportunities to start because this sector is not a common sector in law.

Why did you decide to focus on sports law?

It was the most meaningful, interesting and attractive work for me to protect athletes’ rights and the integrity of sports.

How have you found being a part of the WISLaw community?

It has been a great opportunity to talk and share experiences with other WISLaw members. I am always encouraged by them.

What do you do in your spare time?

Before, I used to ride my horse every week. Nowadays I enjoy jogging and walking with my family near our house.