Member of the Month

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.