Member of the Month

May 2022

May 2022: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Claudia Guerrero.

Claudia is a lawyer in Colombia specializing in sports and corporate affairs. Claudia is also a professor in sports law and sports entities at the Sergio Arboleda University. Claudia also holds an MBA.

You can view Claudia Guerrero’s Linkedin profile here.

How did you get involved in sports law?

During 2010, I was working with the Colombian Government on trade issues supporting good corporate governance processes. I was appointed by the Government to lead the process of converting professional soccer clubs, which at that time were non-profits entities. The conversion allowed them to organize themselves as sports corporations of a sports and commercial type.

It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to know the Colombian football entities and understand what their needs were. This process generated important results for soccer entities, having positive impacts on their finances and their sports results.

This result not only had a positive impact on soccer sports entities, it also transcended into my professional field. As a result of the work I had been doing, I had the opportunity to meet the Minister of Sport of my country-– Andrés Botero Phillispsbourne, who in 2014 invited me to work in the Ministry, as Director – “compliance”, of the Sports entities. I accepted this honorable designation, working on a project I called “Formalization of sports entities in Colombia”. Ever since I started working on this project, I understood that sport- “It’s not a game”. It is an instrument capable of transforming lives, materializing dreams, and generating peace. Day by day I found more personal and professional reasons to continue with the project. The athletes ended up being for me an example of discipline, struggle, perseverance, love, and courage.

 I retired from the Sports Ministry in July 2017 having the opportunity to return to my old job. However, sports captivated me, changed my perception and, with the support of my husband and son, decided to start my legal advisory company for corporate and sports matters.

 In January 2018 I was contacted by the president of the of Colombian Soccer Major Division – DIMAYOR, entity in charge of the organization of the professional soccer championship and belonging to the Colombian Soccer Federation. They offered me to work leading the Legal Management Area. Soon after I ended up being responsible for the Legal Management Area, then the General Secretary and finally I ended up being appointed as the first woman president of Colombian Professional Soccer. This was a very challenging job. I managed to organize “Dimayor” and implement practices of good governance. The media in my country referred to my work as “the management of a woman in a men’s world”. It was an extraordinary experience. Today I am working in my legal advisory company in corporate and sports matters. I am also a professor of subjects related to soccer law and the organization of sports entities.

Any advice for someone trying to break into the sector?

My advice for those who want to enter the sector is to study, to analyze the sector, and based on that knowledge, make creative proposals, which can contribute to the development of the sector. There are organizations such as Wislaw, that allow its affiliated members to share experiences and generate important communication channels. For this reason, I advise those who are interested to belong to a group of experts that openly share ideas and experiences.

What has been your most memorable achievement in the industry?

My most memorable professional achievement was to accept the challenge of converting soccer entities, having contributed to the implementation of good governance practices in sports entities in my country, as well as contributing in making the dreams of our athletes realities.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

My greatest personal and professional challenge has been to open spaces for women in the sports leadership of my country. Based on my experience, I have managed to prove that, without losing the essence that characterizes a woman, with effort, leadership, empathy, solidarity, commitment, and love, we can contribute positively so that more people achieve their sports dreams through organized sports entities and organizations with a human focus.

Why did you decide to focus on sports law area?

I decided to focus my profession on sports law because I found a very interesting opportunity just because sports law is universal. As a lawyer I can work as a professional, without having to homologate my profession. Those of us who are dedicated to sports law speak the same language, understand the same principles and focus on the same direction. I was also motivated by sports law, because it has many approaches, covers many sectors, and consolidates important leadership attitudes. A lawyer, expert in sports law, must know the technical and disciplinary aspects of the sport he advises, the entertainment industry, trademark registration, telecommunications law, logistics, labor law, management matters with an economic and financial focus, even including fashion law. Among the attitudes that stand out, leadership, entrepreneurship, sports protocol, conflict resolution techniques, motivation, integrity, respect, commitment, impartiality, respect for the rights of athletes and institutionality. 

Sports law really allows you to grow as a professional and as a person.

What benefits / How has WISLaw helped you in your carreer?

Wislaw has been an organization that has allowed me to meet professional women experts in sports law who share their experiences and allow union, reciprocal learning, solidarity and support for the professional growth of women in the sports environment.

What do you do in your spare time?

Every day I take time to walk and realize physical activities that allows me to have a healthy life, get an emotional balance and always stay active. Physical activity is a habit in my life.

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what do you think you would be and why? 

I would be supporting business entrepreneurship processes for the benefit of my country.

April 2022

April 2022: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Alexandra Lojen.

Alexandra is a Case Manager at the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.

You can view Alexandra Lojen’s Linkedin profile here.

How did you get involved in sports law?

I’ve been practising various sports since as long as I can remember and was an elite volleyball player while in university in Montreal, where I studied Law. However, sports law wasn’t a topic that was studied or discussed all that much. I didn’t put law and my passion for sports together until later, when I pursued studies in sports management in Lausanne.

Any advice for someone trying to break into the sector?

 Join WISLaw 😉

What benefits / How has WISLaw helped you in your carreer?

It was actually during a WISLaw event that I met my current supervisor, who contacted me a couple of days later to invite me to apply for a Case Manager position that had just opened at the SDRCC !

What do you do in your spare time?

After a couple of knee injuries followed by surgeries, unfortunately I left volleyball behind, but the positive side is that I have since learned to enjoy a variety of new sports: running, road cycling, triathlons and cross-country skiing.

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what do you think you would be and why? 

I’m happy with this job! I also have an interest in languages, the human body/movement and recently enjoyed a beginner’s course in programming… perhaps a job in any of these fields would have been possible.

March 2022

March 2022: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Fiona Hinds.

Fiona is a Partner and Co-Head of Sport at Howard Kennedy LLP in London, England.

Howard Kennedy is a full-service London law firm with global reach through worldwide legal networks.

You can view Fiona Hinds’s Linkedin profile here.

How did you get involved in sports law?

I have always been steeped in sport, playing field hockey internationally as a junior, and I love horse-riding, skiing and tennis. But my legal training was rooted in financial services. I litigated structured financial products for institutional clients at one of the largest law firms in the world.  After a few years, I found I wanted a closer relationship with clients and a more agile way of working, so I moved to a small team focusing on fraud work.  Gradually I found that more of my cases were arising in a sports context – such as, dealing with alleged secret commissions on sales of performance horses and regaining control of athletes’ image rights from rogue agents. My practice now covers much more than commercial disputes in sport, as I also advise on safeguarding issues, regulatory and disciplinary matters, and on investigations – both internal investigations and external inquiries.

What is your most memorable achievement in the sector?

I have recently been acting for a national governing body facing a major inquiry into athlete health, safety and wellbeing. It started at the height of the pandemic, when the organisation was trying to focus on the impact of the lockdowns and how to run things safely while working from home. We had a toddler and a baby on the way. The matter developed extremely quickly and touched on many different aspects of the organisation’s work, including safeguarding and the way in which safety concerns had been handled. We moved rapidly at deeply unsociable hours to mobilise teams within the firm and outside, providing intensive support to the client. It was extremely tough, but I was very proud of the way that I and our team responded. We can’t change what had happened, which had been very distressing for a lot of those involved, but we were able to help the client navigate their way through and look forward.

Any advice for someone trying to break into the sector?

Know your subject matter – whatever that may be – and be genuine. If you then find you are in an unfamiliar area of sport, don’t be afraid to say so. In my experience, our clients really love what they do and know their sport inside out. While it is helpful to have a working or in-depth knowledge of the sport, our clients come for advice on legal rights and obligations and often an outside perspective. What our clients often value is our way of thinking – together we can apply that to the niche aspects of the sport in question. And talk to everyone – everyone has an interesting perspective to share.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

My greatest challenge has been striking the balance.  We have two very small children (1 and 3) and the path to a family was not entirely straightforward. At the same time, I have been running some vast, complicated, very sensitive and high-profile matters, which has been incredibly demanding. One of the very few silver linings of the global pandemic has been the move to remote working and a more flexible approach by clients and colleagues. That was incredibly liberating, building a groundswell of support for doing the job in a different way. Really strong relationships with clients have also been key, so they know I will try my utmost to be available and we all flex around one another’s commitments. And developing the ability to live in the moment, so when I am with our kids they have my whole attention.

Why did you decide to focus on complex disputes in sport?

I found that I really loved the crossover between finding the solutions to often business-critical or life-changing disputes for clients, working with people who are deeply passionate about what they do, technically demanding cases and my own interest in sport. The nature of my skill-set means that each instruction is different, and they often move very quickly. So there is a lot of variety within the work and I am always learning. It is all in the context of sorting out a major challenge for a person or organisation in real difficulty, which I find very motivating and rewarding. I think I have been designing my dream job!

What do you do in your spare time?

We have horses and compete locally in dressage and eventing competitions. However, we keep them beside an ancient royal forest near London, which has been actively managed for hundreds of years. You can see clearly where stands of trees were cut back for timber throughout the 1800s. Riding there, away from all the noise of modern life, I get a real sense of history. It is a huge privilege

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

WISLaw has provided a network of like-minded professionals, which is both reassuring and really exciting. It has opened my eyes to the wealth of opportunity in the sector around the globe, and boosted my confidence to be ambitious about my own career in the industry.

February 2022

February 2022: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Joëlle Monlouis

                                                           Joëlle Monlouis is an Arbitrator and Business & Sports Lawyer at Joëlle Monlouis’s Law Firm.

                                                                                                             

You can view Joëlle Monlouis’s Linkedin profile here.

How did you get involved in sports law?

After several years in investment banking and then in business firms, I discovered sports law.
It rang a bell for me as sports was very prominent in my life from a young age. My mother was a football player and referee and now she is in charge of developing women’s football in Guadeloupe. My father was also a football player. I was part of athletics at a national level and also participated in various other sports including football. It was when I realised that I could mix my interests in business law and my interests in sports that led me to getting involved in sports law and to make it a more significant part of my professional career.

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

There were clubs that contested the Championship. The Football Federation mandated me to defend their interests before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The stakes for the country were exceptionally high given the social context.
After three back-to-back cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Football Federation had emerged victorious on each case. I am particularly proud to have been part of these tough cases and acting on the Federation’s side.

Any advice for someone trying to break into the sector?

My advice is to be yourself. Defend your positions and your convictions and be pugnacious and curious – do not hesitate to reach out to others.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

I was on holiday, and a client called with an emergency. Their Championship had also been contested. The hearing was the days to follow which meant very short notice to prepare and of course, I didn’t have my attire for the hearing. But I managed in the end to not only maintain that the Championship was a great victory and remain effect but I was also able to enjoy the remaining couple of days of vacation. Since this case, I am now always prepared.

Why did you decide to focus on your area(s) of sports law?

It is all together with the continuity of my activity in business law and my family history. It is also because football is one of the most popular sports and one of the most important in terms of economic weight.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

It allowed me to meet other women from different and vibrant backgrounds and also, develop my professional network and share good practices.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am a connoisseur and I love great food! Eating great food also means having enough stamina and strength for all the professional battles!

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what do you think you would be and why?

Gastronomic critic (e.g. Michelin Guide) – to be able to tour the best restaurants in the world and critic incredible food.

January 2022

January 2022: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Margarita Echeverría.

Margarita is a Costa Rican lawyer and local coordinator of the FIFA-CIES-UCR program in sports management in Costa Rica. Margarita is also a CAS Arbitrator.

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

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have any favourite sports?

I played football when I was very young, not anymore. But I like to watch football. As a discipline I walk every day at least one hour and I love my zumba and aerobics classes!

How did you get involved in sports law?

I started in 1992 in the Federacion Costarricense de Fútbol as coordinator of the Disciplinary Committee. By that time Sport Law was totally unknown, so I did my best to the best of my knowledge! I did not have as much information from FIFA or even Concacaf regarding legal issues. After the Bosman case, FIFA started to organize more and more workshops and seminars about different legal matters and I participated in as many as I could. At the same time, I started my networking with FIFA legal staff and got contacts that help me to better understand rules, statutes and all kind of legal affairs. After some years I became Director of legal matters in the federation, then Secretary General and Director of National Teams as well. All those positions, improve my knowledge and allowed me to do better management, governance and rules for the Federation and its affiliated leagues.

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

I have two important moments I would like to point out: the first one when I was appointed as Secretary General in the Costa Rica Federation. It was the first time that a woman had that position. An important appointment in a man’s world. The second one was when I was appointed as CAS Arbitrator, if I am not mistaken, I think I was the first woman appointed in the football list.

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

Nowadays there is the opportunity to study Sports Law, so do it!! I had to do it from my day-to-day experience, “haciendo camino al andar” (making way while walking). Be discipline, organize and always remember: “who has the knowledge has the power”.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

To convince more women to be part of this incredible Sport Law world. At the same time, convince men to allow women to work shoulder to shoulder with them to create a better environment for Sport Law. Women have important ideas to share, let them talk. On the other side try to achieve more leadership positions for women in the different boards and committees of sports organizations. In this line have the right to vote and thus decide on crucial issues, would be an important advance for the participation of women in Sport Law.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

When I first started, WISLAW did not exist, I felt somehow alone, but with the creation of WISLAW I am surrounded by amazing women. It is an important forum for women who work in sport law and even for those who are not already immersed in the industry. WISLAW is the proof that women can achieve what they propose. It was a visionary idea to create WISLAW, THANK YOU!

Why did you decide to focus on your particular area of sports law?

You need to consider that I had to face with a complete different legal world than the current one. I did not know or even imagen that it existed; it was very attractive. I decided to focus on football law to challenge the space that was exclusive for men, it was a boost to continue improving and learning because you never stop learning.

 

December 2021

December 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Ana Tuiketei.

Ana Tuiketei is an international lawyer and arbitrator and the first Listed Pacific Counsel with the International Criminal Court (The Hague). Ana is admitted to the Tongan and Fijian Bar.

Ana was also elected to the ICC Bar Association General Assembly to the Defense and Membership Committee, another first for the Pacific.   She is also the only female Pacific Islander listed as an Arbitrator with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Ana is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Small and Micro States and fellow with the Forum for International Conciliation & Arbitration. 

Ana sits on various Fijian and Regional Boards including the Fiji Employment Relations Advisory Board, Fiji Sports Council; Fiji Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Save the Children’s Fund Fiji, and the Fiji Exporters Council.  She is a Heart Ambassador for the internationally recognized Sai Prema Foundation Fiji that is creating a world-class facility with the aim of providing the best possible surgery and free treatment to the children of the Pacific. She is also in the UK Commonwealth Secretariat Task Force on International Arbitration.  Ana recently joined the IMMAF Anti-Doping Disciplinary Committee.

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

How did you get involved in sports law?

I have been involved in sports for a very long time;  as an athlete when I was in school and after graduation I became involved as a volunteer, administrator, advisor, trainer, and board member.  I have now been involved in sports for 20 years.

 

When I worked at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions I  was appointed as the Head of the Fiji Rugby League Appeals Committee and I had to preside over appeals.  I then also served as a Board Member for 5 years with the Fiji Rugby League.  I was also the Legal Commercial Advisor to the Fiji Rugby Union Board,  served on their Legal Panel and was part of their Good Governance Sub-Committee.  I then trained and became an accredited World Rugby Judicial Officer.

 

I also served as a trainer and legal advisor for the Fiji National Sports Commission, and I now sit as a board member for the Fiji sports Council.

 

What are your most memorable achievements in the sector?

Being the only female Pacific Islander listed as an Arbitrator with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

 

I am currently a World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient.

 

Being the only Fijian female accredited World Rugby Judicial Officer and one of only two pacific women that are Oceania Judicial Officers.

 

Being the only Oceania International Rugby League Independent Chair. Also being listed as an Arbitrator and Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel member with International Mixed Martial Arts Federation. 

 

In 2017 I was awarded the Medal of the Order of Fiji by the President of Fiji for my national contribution.

 Any advice for someone wanting to break into the sector?

Get involved in whatever way you can because safer sport for all makes our world a better place.  Also, sport is fun and when you’re having fun it doesn’t feel like work at all.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

There are pressures to adhere to gender-role stereotypes which still influence the way females are viewed within many societies. The passion to see gender equity in sports has always been a motivator for for me and I  look forward to the day women’s leadership in sports is normalised.

 

Right now, sports like rugby is like a religion in the Pacific so I can’t wait to obtain my ‘train the trainers’ certificate and have more JOs, specifically women be involved.

 Why did you focus on sports law?

There are not enough female sports lawyers and women leaders in sports.  The more women who take positive, leading roles in sports, the more women will see that gender inequalities can be overcome – not only in sports but in all professions. 

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what would you be and why?

I am that passionate I would still be involved in sports somehow or the other.

November 2021

November 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Sara María Moreno Sánchez.

Sara María is a Legal Advisor to the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Sara is a Peruvian lawyer admitted to practice in Peru and France.

     

We caught up with Sara María with our series of quick questions. You can view Sara Marías LinkedIn profile here.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have any favourite sports?

I love hiking and enjoy football very much. I am also a flamenco fan.

How did you get involved in sports law?

During my LL.M. in international dispute settlement, I had the opportunity to learn about sport arbitration from leading practitioners and to study case law dealing with diverse subject matters. The complex interplay of different fields of law, autonomy of international sport governing bodies and the transnational nature of sport regulations at stake, made sport law very appealing to me. For this reason, I decided to work for an international sport federation.

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

Working on the development of governance tools and on the amendments of sport regulations to ensure fairness in disciplinary procedures and the protection of riders’ rights, has been the most memorable and significant achievement in my career as a sport legal advisor.

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

Joining institutions promoting sport law in different regions of the world is of essence to have a good overview of the sector development and a great platform of exposure.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

As an international legal practitioner, one of the greatest challenges has been mastering different national legal systems. This has enabled me to work in different countries and to excel at my work.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

WISLaw has been a great mean to connect with other sport law practitioners all over the world and to deepen my understating of different sport bodies. The exposure and access to professional experiences shared by other members working in the same field has been key for my career. Being a member of the WISLaw Finance Committee has given me as well the opportunity to work in different initiatives promoting sport law.

Why did you decide to focus on sport arbitration, intellectual property and sport governance?

The complexity of sport commercial transactions requires expertise in other fields of law that are interrelated with sport disputes and with the daily legal needs of sport bodies. Several sport contracts deal with the licensing and transfer of intellectual property rights, arbitration clauses and the application of sport regulations. After working in international dispute resolution law firms and at an intellectual property national entity, it felt natural to focus on these fields of sport law.

October 2021

October 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Alexandra Gómez Bruinewoud.

Alexandra is Senior Legal Counsel at FIFPRO. She also is a FIFA Football Tribunal Dispute Resolution Chamber Judge and Co-director of the ISDE Online Global Masters Program in Sports Management. Profile here.

                     

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

 

 How did you get involved in sports law?

I always loved football as a fan, I was born and raised in Uruguay, where “football is what we breathe” as we say, and concidentally I got in contact wiht some football player. I even became good friends with some. This helped me understand their context, their life and their problems. I came to the Netherlands to do a Masters degree in Commercial Law, chose for the optional subject “Sports Law”, and there had a lecture on FIFPRO. I was immediately super interested, and I participated a lot in the lecutre. The professor, who was then the Legal Director at FIFPRO, told me that there was an opening at FIFPRO for a legal counsel position, and he thought I could fit with the profile. Long story short, I applied and got the job. And ever since (this was 2013), I have been happily working at FIFPRO Headquarters in the Netherlands. 

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

At FIFPRO we work as a team, so I can’t think of an own memorable achievement, but more as a team. The introduction of the Pregnancy and Maternity Regulations in the FIFA RSTP is definitively something recent we are extremely proud of. But every time we can help a player, we assist a union in the negotiation of a CBA, or in the drafting. ofa standard contract or in the creation of a National Dispute Resolution Chamber, it is a memorable moment to the team. That is what makes our job so nice, it is actually full of memorable moments. Of course, there are many drawbacks and frustrations too, as the situation of players around the world is very difficult, with lots of non and late payment, etc. 

And maybe more personal, the first time a gave a presentation or sat on a panel to a big audience – full of the usual white males – was very special to me. To realize that I made it. To see that start of the change, and that I was part of it, that I was one more person triggering it. To have not only witnessed but also been part of a great evolution in this regard (although we are still far from being in a diverse industry).

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

I would advise them to prepare themselves well and to dare. Dare to speak, dare to question, dare to share their thoughts, dare to recognize when they’ve made a mistake, and then dare to try again.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Having to prove double. I am 100% convinced that you need to prove double than men in order to get your space in this industry. It is far more difficult to get recognition, positions and respect.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

I think WISLaw has helped me better understand the gender gap in the sports industry, but showing me at the same time that it is still possible to build a successful career, and to help other women on the way. Also it has been very informational, it has provided me with the possibility to meet lots of very interesting women that work in the field. I use the database of the members to get ideas for speakers if we organize a congress or even for other positions. 

 

September 2021

September 2021: Member of the Month

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Brianna Quinn.

Brianna Quinn is a Counsel at Levy Kaufmann-Kohler. Profile here.

                               

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

 

 How did you get involved in sports law?

I’ve always loved sport – both playing and watching – so (many years ago) I enrolled in a double degree in Sports Management and Law at the University of Canberra. I was leaning towards the sports management side of things until I studied with Hilary Findlay in Canada and became interested in the ways that law and sport intersect. After graduation I started working at Clayton Utz in Sydney, which was a fantastic place to work, but when I had the opportunity to do an LLM in International Sports Law (at ISDE in Madrid, Spain) I decided to roll with it and see where it would lead me.

Through ISDE I started working in sports arbitration/sports law at Libra Law in Lausanne, Switzerland and then started working with Antonio Rigozzi at Levy Kaufmann-Kohler in Geneva, Switzerland, where I’ve been ever since.

What was your most memorable achievement in the sector?

My most memorable achievements (as both counsel and arbitrator) have always involved solving a complex or novel case/legal issue – whether through the formal legal process, or where the parties have managed to agree on a solution that suits everyone and can be considered a just outcome.

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

It is a highly competitive sector and you should keep in mind that (even with the general rise in the number of firms that advertise sports law as part of their practice) there are very few practitioners who have sports law as their sole, or even main, area of practice.

In that context:

·        take any opportunity that comes your way – don’t underestimate the experience and contacts you can gain from positions that may not seem like your dream role.

·        create your own opportunities by building your profile and your knowledge – go to conferences, write articles and take a keen interest in the latest developments and decisions in sports law.

·        most importantly, take an avid interest in others’ work, background and experiences – a simple conversation can lead you to places, interests, colleagues and mentors you perhaps hadn’t even contemplated. On that note, try to seek out experienced practitioners that have a genuine interest in seeing others succeed: in my experience it is very rarely the loudest voices in the room that help or teach you the most.

Greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

The last eighteen months… Not in terms of the work itself, but the inability to have those invaluable in-person interactions – both personally and during proceedings. The rise of technology during the pandemic has led to a lot of improvements in terms of flexibility and access to justice in sports law, but our next challenge will be figuring out the right balance and how we can best use that technology when the health situation improves.

Why did you decide to focus on dispute resolution in particular?

In my role as legal counsel a lot of my work is in anti-doping – I really enjoy the different challenges each case presents. Sometimes the challenge is to get to the bottom of the facts, other times it is a complex legal question, and then there is of course understanding the science behind it all. It is a challenging field, and has such an impact on the athletes involved that it is imperative that we do our best to get it right.

As an arbitrator resolving financial disputes in sport you simply never know what is coming – while it might appear on the surface that the disputes are often similar, there are in fact many discrete areas of law that could come into play in any given case – contracts, labour law, taxation to name only a few. It is a constant learning experience, and a great challenge.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

WISlaw has been a fantastic way to meet highly talented colleagues that I might never have come across otherwise – men have traditionally dominated the sports law sector and it is an absolute pleasure each time I meet another woman that has carved out her own place in the field. Speaking at the WISlaw conference was also a great platform, in particular considering the excellent calibre of the speakers at the event.

What do you do in your spare time/any favourite sports?

I’m lucky enough to have been raised in Australia where it’s just expected that you have multiple sports on the fly all year round – you name it and I’ve probably tried it (try being the operative word). I don’t think there’s any way I can list a favourite sport – I’ve been lucky enough to see football in Brazil and Argentina, cycling in Europe, baseball and basketball in the US, ice hockey in Canada, and of course I grew up with the Australian codes that seem so natural to us yet alien to the rest of the world. If I was forced to choose, I have a particular soft spot for netball – it may have taken away my functioning anterior cruciate ligament, but it’s given me a lot and I’m loving where the sport is at today and the fantastic opportunities that now exist for women.

If you weren’t a sports lawyer, what do you think you would be and why?

Years ago I would’ve said something involving animals, but then I worked with big cats (pumas and jaguars), monkeys, and other animals in a refuge in the Bolivian jungle… great experience but the spiders were the straw that broke the camel’s back. Now that I’ve been landlocked in Switzerland for ten years I’d have to say anything that would allow me to live next to the ocean.

August 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.