Areas of work, specialisms and alternatives

What is sports law? A guide for aspiring solicitors

18 Aug 2023, 14:45

A glamorous area of practice for those with a keen interest in the subject matter.

A picture of football players on the pitch

Sports law offer the chance to see the results of your work appear on TV but, no matter how close the game, sports law is underpinned by a huge range of different legal processes.

What is sports law?

Sports law combines a number of different practice areas, such as employment contracts (eg dealing with athletes’ contracts), commercial contracts (eg handling media rights and sponsorship deals) and litigation (eg getting involved with disciplinary and regulatory issues). Lawyers tend to specialise in one of these areas. Depending on the area, clients can be sports governing bodies, broadcasters such as Sky and BT, athletes, sports clubs and corporates interested in sponsorship deals.

What do sports law solicitors do?

Smaller deals can be looked after by an associate, supervised by a partner, but big deals might call for a partner, two associates and a trainee. Deadlines can be tight, so a few late nights are required. Clients can be based anywhere in the world, so the work is often international.

What is life like as a sports law trainee?

On large deals, trainees are charged with updating and managing sections of a document under supervision, attending meetings, taking notes and getting involved with research and marketing tasks. On smaller deals, they might be tasked with drawing up a first draft of the contract. There are good opportunities for client contact, with trainees often lending a hand on media rights bidding days.

What skills do you need to be a sports law solicitor?

A good knowledge of, and passion for, the industry is an important quality in a trainee aspiring to sports law. Given the broad interaction with other areas of law, general skills for solicitors are also useful: attention to detail, good drafting skills, analytical abilities and negotiating and networking skills.

Types of law practised within sports law

  • Contract
  • Intellectual property
  • Litigation
  • Employment
  • Regulatory
  • Tax

How much can I earn in sports law?

You will likely undertake sports law as a seat on a training contract as part of a rotation and may specialise later. You can take a look at our article on How much you can earn as a trainee solicitor to get a broader picture of how much law firms pay trainees, but it’s not uncommon for firms with UK offices to offer £50,000 to trainees in their first year, rising to anywhere up to and above £100,000 upon qualification.

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