All about the people Ultimately though, Simon was drawn to the solicitor’s life by virtue of the wide-ranging nature of the role and the opportunity to work with teams of people. “Everything we do is not necessarily dispute-related. For example, it can involve giving advice on regulations, which might entail combing through the EFL [English Football League] Handbook or the FIFA Regulations. The Regulations are the purest form of sports law, albeit they have private contractual force rather than being ‘law’ in the strict sense of the word.” He relishes “working with other people and bouncing off them”, having previously taught English at a London secondary school for three years after graduating from uni. Running a classroom, as it turns out, instils a host of invaluable and readily transferrable interpersonal skills. “Managing personalities, people and expectations – all of these are really helpful when entering the legal sector, as you have to manage both client and colleague expectations.” At the same time, teaching, like lawyering, involves “a large degree of autonomy – you have to put in a lot of hard work on your own”. Despite rising to the position of deputy head of the English department, Simon always knew he wanted to enter the legal profession, so left to join a West End practice as a paralegal, before landing a training contract at Squire Patton Boggs. He was keen to take on more disputes work, having developed a taste for it while paralegalling, but didn’t really know much about sports law. Finding it an alluring prospect, he expressed interest, was able to get some experience Youare in thedrivingseatwhen it comes to thestrategyandyou haveagreateropportunity todo theadvocacyworkyourself
Sports law involves the legal issues at play in the worlds of both amateur and professional sport. Although perhaps now a distinct area of law (‘ lex sportiva ’), it draws in particular on employment, contract, competition, commercial and intellectual property, public and tort law. “Depending on who you ask, sports law is either a thing or not a thing,” Simon Grossobel says wryly, but goes on to make a convincing case for the former proposition. This is unsurprising, given his specialism in sports litigation; arguing convincingly is all in a day’s work: “It’s a vibrant area of law: in some cases there are disputes just like any other area, for example, contractual or agency disputes, but there are also industry- specific elements such as applicable regulations. Jurisdictional considerations are also always important – whether the claim can be brought in the English High Court, domestic sports arbitral tribunals, the Court of Arbitration for Sport – CAS – or other courts or tribunals; that’s always a battleground. There are so many complex elements to sports disputes and a lot of ‘hard law’ is involved, which was a strong pull for me. It’s a very academic area of law.” Although he considered the Bar at one stage, Simon points to a key differentiator of sports work at a law firm: “You are in the driving seat when it comes to the strategy and you have a greater opportunity to do the advocacy work yourself.” This is due in large part to the nature of sports disputes work, with many matters going before national or international governing bodies and specialist tribunals, prime among the latter, the Switzerland- based CAS. “With CAS cases we can draft parts of the pleadings ourselves, rather than bring counsel in to do it – subject to the need to bring in specialist Swiss law or other non- English law counsel – as we would for more general disputes. It’s one of the parts of the job that I like most.”
For more firms that work in this practice area, please use the “Training contract regional indexes” starting on p197.
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