18 November 2016

By trainee solicitor Oliver Bourchier

I recently became captain of the Hockey Club at Burges Salmon and thought I’d take this opportunity to explain why being involved in sport, apart from being great fun, can actually help you during your training contract. Jamie Pheasant, Burges Salmon sports lawyer, once told me that “sport is a great developer of the type of skills we use every day as a lawyer, whether teamwork or clear communication” – I couldn’t agree more!

1. Teamwork

Being a successful lawyer often requires working well with individuals, whether liaising across departments on a corporate deal or preparing evidence for trial. Playing in a team develops your ability to understand different personalities and anticipate their next move, something that helps more than you’d expect. Equally, helping each other out and approaching a task with a collaborative mind-set makes your job ten times easier!

2. Communication

Communicating during a windy hockey match, or in a high-pressure meeting, requires clarity of language, structure, and a focus on what is important. Anything extra will soon be forgotten in the heat of the game (or deal). I’ve found that this approach stands you in good stead during the training contract – not least when presenting your work. No-one appreciates a verbose lawyer!

3. Competition and development

Sport is a naturally competitive field; whether in football, netball or even circuit training. The desired outcome is to beat the other side or your own performance. The benefit of this motivation is that it helps teach you what is important and how to improve by implementing feedback.

It is clear that these are abilities needed in a law firm – ensuring focus on key points, querying instructions and constantly refining your skills. Law can change gradually or at a rate of knots – however it does, a lawyer needs to be able to advise on the current position.

4. Meeting new people

Being part of a club is a great way to meet people from across the firm and city in an informal environment. You all want to have a good time so it's very easy to feel welcomed and part of the team (endorphins do help!). You also have the chance to show off some new skills.

Making contacts (and friends) who can help you in times of need can make your day-job much easier. Whether it’s someone in environmental law who you can ask about the risks of contaminated land, or a friend who can explain the complexities of insolvency, they’re invaluable.

Last, but not least, sport before or during work can give you a boost for the day; making you sharper and more engaged.

The firm has a number of active sports teams and a strong sports law practice, advising on a wide range of high profile issues in the industry from equestrian doping cases to financial regulation in football. The firm is also involved in sport at a grass roots level, sponsoring young athletes such as Emily Wright who came 4th in the long-jump at the 2015 World Youth Championships.

If you have any questions, or wish to find out more about Burges Salmon, please contact me, Oliver Bourchier.

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The power of sport at work

Sport is a great developer of the type of skills we use every day as a lawyer, whether teamwork or clear communication.
James Pheasant, Senior Associate

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