A Game of Two Halves

Dev Kumar Parmar (LLM Criminal Litigation, 2012) was so impressed by the teaching he received at The City Law School that he studied here twice! Here he tells us how he set up his own Sports Law Practice, but not before he re-established the City football team…

Can you tell me about your time at City?

So I’m twice an alumnus of City. I first came to City to do the Bar Vocational Course, 11 years ago. It was fantastic. It was a fundamental change from what I had been used to doing. We had changed from all the academic theorems, and were now taking this knowledge and applying it directly in real life scenarios.

I really enjoyed City. I was involved in quite a lot of extracurricular stuff. I was very humbled to be elected by my group to be the group representative, and then by our cohort, to be the cohort representative and then by the cohort representatives to be the representative of the student body! But one of my passions was football. I thought that it was shocking that we didn’t have a football team so I set it up. It turned out that we used to have a football team maybe 10 or 15 years back and one of the teachers still had the kit! We joined the local league in Liverpool Street and we were the ‘City Uni Bar FC’ or something along those lines.

What about the second time?

My second course was an LLM in Criminal Litigation and Sentencing. If I had to evaluate everything, pound for pound that year was probably the best year of my life. I was fortunate that three of the tutors I had on my Masters were also tutors of mine from the bar course. Also, two of my closest friends now were people that I met on that course. I probably walked away from City even happier the second time.

What happened next?

I was already working in criminal law and I wanted to move towards a particular aspect of criminal law, which is one of the reasons why I came to do the Masters. So I left City and I think the day after I handed in my dissertation, I had an interview and I got the job. I left London and moved to Chester, working in the anti-money laundering department of a large bank in the head offices. I had in mind that I wanted to develop a sports law practice and I had started to do that outside of work in the evenings.  In 2012/2013 I completely finished up with the banks and went into my sports law practice full time. And that’s what I’ve been doing now for about four or five years.

What steps did you have to take to set up own practice?

I didn’t know where to start. I had a couple of fortunate situations where, in criminal work, I represented a couple of naughty footballers. I was also invited to do some work outside of the criminal representations that I was assisting them with. I looked over a couple of contracts and I saw that there was a big gap. We were able to successfully overturn these contracts and I decided to progress within this area.  So I went on a cold calling spree. I called every club I could think of, professional and amateur, emailed everybody, and set up meetings where I could. I spent a lot of time and a lot of money on travel expenses just meeting up with people, highlighting what I could do for them and how I could assist them. To build relationships most of the work I did at the start was pro bono. I took money I had saved and put it into a year of relentless relationship building. I did that every single day, and eventually the word spreads because people are appreciative of the time that you’ve spent. Since then I’ve been blessed to be able to develop in that area and work with high profile people because of things I did for free 5 years ago.

What has been the biggest challenge?

A lot of people don’t realise that even though football is so commercialised, it isn’t as well regulated or as well structured as people might expect. Going into football where everything is so chaotic was a bit of a shock to me and I had to be agile to be able to start picking up tips on how to deal with players, how to deal with managers, what clubs do, and what processes are in place. You can’t go to a football club and deal with them the same way you would a multi-national corporation, even though sometimes the football club might be turning over more than one of these organisations. The business practice is fundamentally different and I think this was something that took me a little time to get used to.

What was the most rewarding part?

I’ve got another pro bono project that I set up with a partner of mine about three years ago. We try to assist younger players who have not had a chance to make it at a football club before. Through my international clients and relationships these lads are going off to Italy and Spain and playing the second and third divisions and developing as footballers. One of the lads has just been called up by his national team – it’s things like this which I find more rewarding. Of course it’s attractive to talk about the work I’ve done with the big stars but for me, when I got the phone call confirming that this lad was going to represent his country that probably put the biggest smile on my face.

Any advice?

Persevere, don’t give up and if you’ve got any questions, call me or email me.

It’s a challenging industry, but it’s also a beautiful industry and it’s an industry you should have a genuine interest and passion for. I feel the people that make the best sports business consultants or the best sports lawyers are not the ones that are dispassionate. I think in every other area of law, you must be dispassionate and objective. In sports, of course, you must be objective when you’re dealing with a client, but to really understand what is going through the mind of a CEO or manager at a club, or one of the footballers that you’re representing, you need to be able to have lived that sport or at the least understood it, as a fan, particularly for disciplinary / regulatory matters. You’ve got to have a passion, and I think it’s a unique industry in that respect.

Don’t be afraid to show your understanding and passion for the discipline and then persevere and work as hard as possible.


For more information about Dev’s practice please visit: www.parmars-sports.com

You can contact Dev directly at: contactus@parmars-sports.com

Dev is also the academic director for the Global Master in International Sports Law at Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia (ISDE).  ISDE is a specialist postgraduate law and business school with campus’ in Madrid, Barcelona and New York. Please visit www.isdemasters.com for more information.