Brianna Quinn

Australia, Switzerland

Membership profile

Position: Attorney-at-law

Type of Occupation: Private Practice Lawyer, Sports Arbitrator

Area of expertise: Anti-Doping, Contractual / Commercial matters, Dispute Resolution, Governance / Regulatory work

Member of the month: September, 2021

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

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