What started out as an innocent inquiry leads us to a whole new world of knowledge, but that’s one of perk of what we do (and the wonders of life!). Meet Brian, the trustee of Lee Chong Wei Foundation who specializes in sports law. As sports law is a fairly new practice in Malaysia, Brian share with us a glimpse of what he does for a living, which turns out to be as interesting as it sounds. Check this out!
1. Hi Brian! Please tell us more about yourself.
I am a founding partner of a legal firm based in Kuala Lumpur. My area of practice includes corporate and commercial matters and I specialise in sports law with primary focus on the commercial aspects including sponsorship, brand endorsements and image rights.
I am a trustee of Lee Chong Wei Foundation. One of the key objectives of the Foundation is towards the development of sports in this country. I am also a committee member of the Sports Law Association of Malaysia and the Young Practitioners Group (Kuala Lumpur Regional Arbitration Centre) – Sports Law.
I co-founded B1S Sports Management Sdn Bhd, a company that manages athletes and organises sports activities and coaching clinics. I am also an avid triathlete and a father of 3 beautiful children who are competitive in sports including football, rhythmic gymnastics and triathlon.
2. Tell us more about sports law.
Sports law is a multi-discipline area which deals with legal issues including contracts, endorsement deals, tax, torts, intellectual property law, compliance and alternative dispute resolution. By way of example, contracts is a foundation of brand owner and athletes relationship whilst use of athletes image involves intellectual property concerns.
Some sports law practitioners focus on making deals and dealing with commercial aspects of events (including sponsorship contracts, brand endorsements, merchandise licensing and biopic movies) whilst the some other practitioners may focus on dispute resolutions and regulatory issues within the sporting sector.
Sports law awareness in Malaysia is low. Various parties including Sports Law Association of Malaysia and Young Practitioners Group (Sports Law Division) of Kuala Lumpur Arbitration Centre are taking great initiatives to create awareness about sports law by constantly organising seminars and forums.
3. Sports law is a fairly new practice in Malaysia. So, how did you get involved in sports law in the first place?
I became involved in sports law when I was introduced to Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wei which was also just about the same time when he first became World No.1 Men’s Singles badminton player. There were many enquiries about commercial exploitation of his image. I was tasked to negotiate the commercial arrangements for him and advise him on his legal rights and obligations.
4. What is your typical day of work, and what are the issues which you have to handle behind the scene as a legal advisor to athletes?
Other than reviewing and negotiating commercial and sporting contracts, I am either at corporate meetings or at meetings with copy writers, PR personnel, advertisers, photographers, videographers, marketing and branding teams who run through with me the details of the advertising and objectives of the campaign involving the athletes. On many occasions, I have to attend photoshoots and other commercial recordings as the athletes may need my guidance on any last minute changes to what have been agreed or new issues that may arise.
5. Why do you love sports and what are your plans?
I have participated in many triathlons and it always gives me personal satisfaction when I complete a race. More so when my children eagerly wait for me to return with a finishing medal. It gives me a sense of personal achievement. Sports has kept me feeling healthier and focused as well.
I constantly encourage my children and other kids to participate in any form of sports to their liking. Kids who are active in sports will learn how to play and strategise as a team, be able to experience and handle success and defeat and learn how to focus on their objectives. More importantly, I have seen how participation in sports and competitions help develop better discipline, mental strength and determination. It very much provides for positive character building in kids.
I have been working closely with Irene Chong (SEA Games 2017 (Triathlon)– Female Bronze Medallist) for the past year and I recently had a chance to organise a few training sessions for my children and a few of their good friends with Irene. They have participated in the Powerkids, Putrajaya 2018. It gave me much satisfaction to see consistent growth and improvement in their form and mostly the determination these children have to complete the race.
As such, Irene and I have decided to set up TRIrene Academy. This will be a triathlon academy which will provide coaching and clinics for people who are interested in triathlon with our primary focus on kids of all ages. The academy will offer private and group training sessions as well as provide consultation relating to the sport. It is very important to learn the right form and method when participating in a sport as severe injuries can happen if not done properly.
6. What are the highlights in your career as a law practitioner?
Becoming a lawyer has always been my childhood dream but I had always imagined myself being a court room lawyer. Things turned out differently as I would have imagined. I grew to love being involved in business negotiations and help clients strike the deal they want and decided to practice corporate and commercial laws instead.
Getting involved in sports law have opened up a different and dynamic dimension of my legal career. What I have learnt from corporate and commercial legal practice supplements my sports law practice particularly in the business negotiations aspect.
Mostly, I have been honoured to have been appointed as Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wei’s Malaysian counsel to work along-side two foreign counsels to represent him in the BWF Doping Hearing in Amsterdam in 2015 and to act as his legal advisor for various projects including his biopic, Lee Chong Wei -Rise of the Legend (“Movie”). The Movie which was premiered at Bukit Jalil Stadium 0n 9 March 2018 and was screened on a specially built 40m x 17m giant LED, the largest premiere screen in South East Asia.
7. What are the advices which you’d like to give to aspiring law undergraduates in Malaysia?
Begin with a dream or a vision. And with that dream or vision, you should constantly work hard and smart to try and achieve it. Some graduate to practice law while others may not wish to.
There are so many lawyers in Malaysia. To be a good lawyer, one does not only have to be smart with satisfactory grades but to also be a team player, always willing to assist and complete any task given without much complaint and learn to love and enjoy what you do.
Above all, to command respect you must first be able show respect in whatever you choose to do or be.
8. Any life motto which you live by?
To do what you have to do or want to do to the best of your ability. Nothing comes easy. You have to work for it if you want it and one should never forget to be kind.
My wife constantly reminds me to practice what I preach in hope that our children will do the same.