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21 February 2018
One of the most common errors in applications to firms that have a sports law department is a failure to distinguish between a love of sport and an interest in the legal elements found within sport. In this article we seek to provide sports lawyers of the future with a few tips on how they can effectively demonstrate why they are attracted to a popular area of law such as sports law.
Is there even such a thing as “sports law”?
Sports law only exists as a standalone area of law in limited circumstances, such as anti-doping and when dealing with specific sports arbitration proceedings. Often what is seen as sports law is in fact just another area of law, but from a sports perspective. Whether you agree with this statement or not, you need to understand the question, engage with the issues and, if necessary, be ready to fight your corner. 
Do not be deterred by those that that question your understanding of sports law. Listen to what they have to say and make sure you are clear on, and able to back-up, your point of view. 
Do not confuse a love of sport, with an interest in sports law
It is one thing to enjoy a jog around the park or to pay to watch a pay per view fight. 
Due to the glamorous perception of the life of a sports lawyer, it is essential to be able to justify why you are attracted to working in it. Stay up to date on the latest developments. You are not expected to be an expert, but you are expected to be able to demonstrate that you have a genuine curiosity. 
If you do happen to participate in sport, be proactive. Get in touch with your local sports team; offer to assist them with basic admin or help them to out in any other way you can (especially if it has a legal angle!). Not only will this display an authentic passion, but it is also a method of gaining some unique, quasi-legal work experience.  
There are so many opportunities to network and speak to lawyers that have years of experience. There are a number of organisations that hold annual conferences as well as smaller events that cover the on-trend topics being discussed in sport from both a legal and sporting perspective. 
Networking is not easy. It is a skill that is developed over time. Being in a room full of strangers that are predominantly lawyers can feel slightly intimidating. Remember why you are there, the more you put yourself out there, the more you are likely to get from the event. Your efforts will be noticed if you consistently do the right things.
Do not limit yourself
It can be tempting to brand yourself as a ‘sports lawyer’ at a very early stage. However, you should keep your options open and use your interest in one area of law as a starting point, be receptive to other areas of law you come across. This is of particular importance if you are interested in ‘sports law’ as it is so broad in scope. Sports lawyers are often specialists in IP, commercial, corporate, employment, or many other areas.
Be curious, there are a limited number of units that can be studied at university and on the LPC. In practice, those units may seem very different to how you imagined, you may never even have come into contact with the area of law which is right for you.
Be resilient
The legal profession is competitive. The Law Society’s publication on 2016-2017 entry trends showed that 17,855 UK students were accepted on to undergraduate law courses. Only 5,728 new training contracts were recorded in the year ending 31 July 2016. Although some students drop out and others don’t want to become a solicitor, it is still clear that there is a bottleneck when entering into the legal profession. As they say, ’sport is a business and business is a sport’. 
Securing a training contract can at times feel impossible. Remember, the only way you are going to be selected is by putting yourself on the line.
For further information on the above please contact Imani Modahl at