Catherine Beloff: Holding court
DLA Piper is a global, full service law firm whose dedicated sports group is consistently ranked in the top tier of the legal directories. The division, made up of Europe’s most renowned and respected sports lawyers, includes sports team associate Catherine Beloff.
What was your first job?
My first job was looking after six-year-olds at a summer camp. In the legal world, I was a trainee at Freshfields and my first experience of sports law was acting as the clerk to an arbitration panel hearing the prosecution of two Russian rhythmic gymnasts on doping charges.
"Finding the right answer at law is only part of the role of being a sports litigator"
How did you first become involved with DLA Piper's sports division?
DLA Piper's sports team came together from Denton Wilde Sapte in 2005. At the time it was the largest acquisition in the history of the UK legal sector.
What has been the highlight of your career?
As a cricket lover, successfully defending Inzamam-ul-Haq and the Pakistan Cricket Board against allegations of ball-tampering at the Pakistan v England Oval test in 2006. Our expert witnesses were Geoffrey Boycott and Simon Hughes and our evidence included a complicated analysis of the science of swing bowling. The ball in question was held at the ICC's solicitors' offices, and we were only allowed to view it under tight supervision. It mysteriously disappeared shortly after the hearing.
What is the single biggest challenge you face in your work?
Recognising that finding the right answer at law is only part of the role of being a sports litigator. As well as purely legal issues, so many of the problems faced by our clients are driven by global and political factors.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start out in sports law?
Be tenacious and don't be afraid to approach people. There are lots of sporting bodies which welcome pro bono or voluntary help, and it's a great way to build relationships.
A guest column written by a member of the DLA Piper sports team appeared in the June edition of SportsPro. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.
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