In-house beckons for successful Olympics lawyers

Olympics lawyers are in hot demand for in-house roles due to the success of the London 2012 Games, says the legal head of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog).

Terry Miller

Terry Miller, general counsel of the organising body, has confirmed she has no plans to continue on to Rio 2016, and that moving to Brazil full-time is not high on the agenda for her team.

Around a third of the final Locog legal department of 32 were secondees from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, who have now returned to the firm.

The remainder of the team are preparing for a Rio debrief, where they will handover to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) going through key legal elements of the games, particularly the brand protection, said Miller.

She said in-house is now a major attraction for Locog lawyers.

“A lot of people are still looking to see what is out there. At the moment nobody is planning to move to Brazil full-time, but some of the team may do some consultancy work with the Rio organisers. The big interest in the team is moving on to another in-house position. It can be hard to go back to private practice because if they enjoy the closeness to the business, it is difficult to give that up.”

Locog had to deal with a couple of high profile advertising legal challenges during the Olympic Games with Paddy Power and Nike pushing the boundaries (1 August 2012).

Their work continues until December when the committee is officially disbanded and the rights handed back to the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association (17 September 2012).

Miller said she is a firm believer in secondment and said some of the Freshfields lawyers who invested their time in Locog have gained invaluable experience.

She said: “Some are trainees who have their whole legal career in front of them and for others it was a big chunk of more than a year. They’ll go back and think about their practice a little differently in terms of the service they offer clients. They’ll be more attuned to what their clients might need and have a greater understanding of the commercial environment.”

Miller said some of the younger lawyers who joined the team in 2006 are now mid-level, others are now approaching their peak and some ex-Freshfields lawyers recruited for the Olympics will continue with their retirement.

Some are looking to stay in sports and others will consider going in a different direction, added Miller, who has been encouraging her team to consider their next career step since before the Games began.

She said: “We didn’t have lots of legal problems. The best compliment is that nobody really heard about us during the Games. To have that on a CV shows they can work on the biggest stage with the best projects and deliver. To new employers that is a big advantage. It looks like a lot of our team have several different options. Some have received offers – anything from smaller consultancy roles to working for major companies.”

Former Goldman Sachs general counsel Miller, who previously told The Lawyer that Locog was “the best legal job in the world” (11 June 2012) said she has “no desire” to work in the Rio organising committee, but added she is “delighted” to leave on the high of London 2012.