Lucie Lavanchy-Pestalozzi


Membership profile

Position: General Counsel at Omnia Sports

Type of Occupation: In-house Lawyer

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

Member of the month: May, 2024

We are delighted to announce our Member of the Month, Lucie Lavanchy-Pestalozzi, General Counsel at Omnia Sports, a sports marketing agency in Lucerne, Switzerland, that provides full-service support across broadcast, sponsorship and licensing for some of world’s largest sporting events, particularly the World Athletics Series.

How did you get involved in Sports Law?

Sports has always been very present in my life as I was an amateur sprinter athlete during my teenage years. As a result, I sought to practice in Sports Law after I graduated. When I was entering this field 20 years ago, there were not many opportunities to study Sports Law at undergraduate nor Master level - I learnt by doing. FIFA had an opening for a junior lawyer at the Players Status department and so I started in this exciting field of law by managing claims relating to breaches of contract and transfer of players and by learning the fundamentals of the sports regulatory landscape and dispute resolution system.

What has been your most memorable achievement in the Sports Law industry?

I am involved in the delivery and protection of the commercial rights relating to the World Athletics Championships. As such, when I attend the actual event, I get to see how all the work throughout the year culminates together - it feels like a special achievement. It is where the hard work comes to life and the purpose of my work materialises.

Any advice for someone trying to break into this industry?

A good entry could be through taking an active role in a local sports club. One can support the associative sports community while gaining practical insights, building a network and acquiring legitimacy in the sector.

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

A significant challenge was the cancellation of the sports events during the Covid-19 outbreak and the implications on the sponsors’ and broadcasters’ agreements - particularly in relation to one of the first international sports events that had been cancelled as it was initially scheduled in China in March 2020. It raised numerous of unprecedented issues in a context where the contracts were generic and the legal literature was not extensive enough on that topic at that time. All issues ultimately were resolved by way of negotiation. This has impacted the new commercial agreements that I draw up and negotiate. Now, the cancellation, postponement and relocation of sports events have become an essential point in every contractual negotiation.

What prompted your decision to concentrate on your current field(s) of sports law?

I stepped in that sector later in my professional path. After several years abroad as an in-house counsel at the Qatar Football Association, I wanted to round up my profile and develop my competences in all commercial aspects of Sports.  Since then, I have been at a sports marketing agency in charge of negotiating and implementing long-term deals in the areas of sponsorship, broadcasting, merchandising and commercial hospitality for international sporting events.

How has WISLaw helped you in your career?

Through WISLaw I have had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with many inspiring and talented women whom I may not have had the chance to interact with otherwise. It is an invaluable professional network and the team is doing an incredible job at promoting women in the field of Sports worldwide. Special mention to the WISLaw Alpine retreat, for the in-depth discussions and the sharing of professional views and experience – all in a sporty and friendly environment!

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

In my spare time I enjoy active breaks with my family. We do ski's, hikes, play tennis with my two teenage kids. I like trying on all sorts of sports activities like SUP and paddle tennis. I also enjoy doing handicrafts as this has a meditation effect on me.

If you were not a sports lawyer, what do you think you would be and why?

It would probably be in an organisational role because I am keen in optimising processes and, work in an international company as I really enjoy meeting new interesting people from around the world.