Published on July 18, 2019 by Lauren Wade

A sports law training contract interview will see you vying for a job within a niche area of law. Sports law spans corporate, employment, commercial, dispute resolution, intellectual property, data protection and real estate.

There is no silver bullet to securing a training contract of this kind, and it is arguably more challenging to receive an offer from a specialist law firm with a strong sector focus.

It’s imperative that prospective candidates for boutique sports law firms clearly demonstrate an authentic interest in the legal and commercial issues that arise in the field of sport.

Below is a list of key questions that would be useful to consider in preparation for an impending sports law training contract interview.

To paraphrase the wise words of former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, it is better to stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.

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1. What do you think makes a good sports lawyer?

Commercial sports lawyers are involved in the drafting and negotiation of a variety of documents, such as player contracts, broadcasting rights and sponsorship and endorsement of agreements. A sports lawyer must have a strong technical ability and a solid understanding of the law and have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.

Another string to a sports lawyer’s bow is their ability to build solid working relationships. They need to be able to develop a strong rapport with colleagues, peers and clients, which may vary from athletes, clubs, national team, leagues and governing bodies, such as FIFA or The International Cricket Council and World Rugby.

A unique selling point of a good sports lawyer is their genuine interest in sport, whether that be volunteering at a local sports club, performing the role of a match official or participating in amateur or elite sport. For example, Juventus F.C. striker, Eniola Aluko trained as a solicitor at Oneside Law Limited.

Whilst it is not necessary to have played sport at a professional level, it will be helpful to have practice experience and examples to demonstrate your interest in sport.

Sports lawyers, like all other commercial lawyers, must continually develop their commercial awareness. Sports lawyers need to keep up to date with key issues in the sports sector, whether that be UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations or FIFA Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players.

Other issues to maintain awareness of include using 5G-enabled augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology to revolutionise the spectator experience. Technology is the new frontier and a disruptive force in all sectors, including sports.

2. Why should we hire you?

This is the time during your sports law training contract interview for you to showcase your unique selling points.

A key factor to consider if you want to perform well at any job interview is your ability to provide examples of your skills and experience.

For example, at a sports law training contract interview, you could mention relevant skills you learned from volunteering with sports-related activities in the past, as well as any sports you’ve played and/or any networking events you’ve been to.

It could be necessary to link your examples to the essential attributes of a sports lawyer, such as analytical, communication, interpersonal, networking and problem-solving skills.

Ultimately, the two aims are to find the most authentic way to interweave your experiences and skills with examples that are transferable to the sports sector, and persuade your interviewer of your potential to flourish and make a valuable contribution to their organisation.

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3. Do you have experience in sports law?

Initially, this question may catch you off guard if you have not cited sports law experience on your application form or CV.

This is not a trick question and, as with all interview questions, should be answered to the best of your ability with honesty, integrity and transparency.

It is not a pre-requisite to have obtained sports law experience and if you don’t have any, then you should freely make this admission and show that you’re keen to learn in future.

There are very few city law firms that have a dedicated sports law practice. If this question is posed which it is likely to be, it will be necessary to think laterally and perhaps discuss legal and commercial trends in the sports industry.

You could discuss the following:

  • Athletes as content creators/publishers (the legal battle between Rugby Australia and former Wallabies winger, Israel Folau);
  • The impact of AR and VR technology;
  • The increasing popularity of e-sports with gamers, investors and clubs.
  • The partnership between the English Premier League and Electronic Arts to launch the inaugural ePremier League

4. Why do you want this job?

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley

Inevitably, there will be obstacles to overcome in the pursuit of your dream career. Media, sports and entertainment law are regarded as the more “glamorous” practice areas, so job roles are fiercely competitive. City law firm, Northridge Law LLP only recruits two trainees per recruitment cycle.

During the training contract application and interview process, it is critical that you clearly articulate your desire to train and qualify at a sports law firm.

A passion for playing and/or watching sports will not be sufficiently persuasive without substantiated reasons for your interest and understanding of the legal and commercial issues at play in the sports sector (pun intended).

You could play netball and enjoy watching football, and Wimbledon, but you’ll need to supplement your interest in sports by keeping up to date with legal, commercial and ethical issues too.

It is also helpful to be able to maintain an engaging and informed conversation on trending topics in the world of sports.

For example tennis teen sensation, Cori “Coco” Gauff defeated five-time Wimbledon champion, Venus Williams, in straight sets (6-4) in the first round; the Lionesses placed fourth in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup won by the current holders, the USA; and host nation Brazil won the 2019 Copa America as predicted by Lionel Messi…

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Michael Jordan

Good luck!

Written by: Hilda-Georgina Kwafo-Akoto

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