The Law: Media and Sport

The opportunity to rub shoulders with the stars is a bonus of media and sports law, but its not all glitz and glamour

The Law: Media and SportWhats it all about?
Media and sport. Aint it glamorous? Well, kind of. Fundamentally you are still a lawyer, but if you want to hang out with celebs then this is the field for you.

You will probably be a litigator and be working for a specialist (niche) firm. Sport and media have become a whole lot more combined as the profile of sportspeople, in particular footballers, has risen. More and more sports work has become libel work as footballers get accused of this, that and the other.

There are more sports departments in some of the big firms, but they are fighting for a fairly small portion of work with sports governing bodies such as Uefa, Fifa or the British Olympic Association (BOA).

Of course, there are also in-house positions at some of these organisations. Sara Friend, for example, is the in-house lawyer for the BOA. She played a key role in securing gold for the Equestrian three-day eventing team after the German team was disqualified.

The pros:
High-profile clients
Varied work
Good freebies

The cons:
It is not always as glamorous as it sounds
Demanding clients with big egos

Do this if you want to be a lawyer and you love music and sport; do not do this if you want to be a rock star

The working culture
While it seems glamorous, media and sports work is not particularly well paid, hence the glut of niche firms working in this area. However, you will not have to wear a tie unless you are a litigator battling it out in court.

Although you may be on the news, it is not all about hanging around with pop stars. You still have to work hard and you still have to be a lawyer. You are also likely to have a fair few less exciting corporate clients too.

Why is this interesting?
A lot of your work may involve acting for high-profile clients such as sports stars and actors. Since sport and media lawyers generally work in specialist or relatively small firms, you will get a lot of responsibility from the start.

A fair amount of charm will be needed, as well as the ability to massage large egos and sometimes bring them into line.

Case Study

This years World Cup was supported by a huge legal effort to stop companies associating themselves with the tournament without paying intellectual property (IP) licence fees, a practice known as ambush marketing.

Much of the Fifa World Cup Organising Committees 700m (471m) revenue came from marketing agreements with its 15 official partners, which trade off the goodwill associated with the tournament.

The most high-profile defence of this goodwill came when Fifa demanded Dutch supporters take off their Bavaria Beer-branded lederhosen during a match against the Ivory Coast. Bavaria had no agreement with Fifa to advertise during matches.

Fifa has logged 2,500 violations of its IP since the inception of its World Cup 2006 rights protection programme. Hammonds sports department dealt with the rights protection and got a few match tickets into the bargain.