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Lawyer stories:
Sports, Sweden and Start-ups

Jamie McDonald found a career that allowed him to be a lawyer and sports enthusiast all in one. Then a family and the small matter of moving to Sweden prompted Jamie to go-it-alone and he set up his own sports legal business . He tells us how LOD is the safety net that allows him to take the plunge.

My story starts growing up as a sports obsessed kid back in Scotland. After a brief flirtation with professional football (I was signed by the mighty Dumbarton FC aged 16) and a less successful (but on going) obsession with golf, I opted to study law at Glasgow University.

Fast-forward about 15 years and I am writing this from my office (aka the spare bedroom) in our home in Stockholm, trying to get it finished before picking up my son from the nursery down the street. How did I get here? Well, the Stockholm connection is thanks to my wife, who is a Swede. Career-wise, I started off with Shepherd and Wedderburn and will always be grateful to them for an incredibly varied traineeship which involved time in Glasgow, London and on secondments at the Scottish Government Legal Service and the Law Society in Brussels.

It was, however, clear to me from early on that law-firm life wasn’t really for me. The passion for sport continued, though, and I was lucky/persistent enough (to all those hundreds of lawyers working in sports who received my CV sometime in summer 2007, my apologies!) to secure my dream job at sports industry giants, IMG on qualification. I spent over 7 great years there, as in-house counsel for the golf division.

Life, of course, has a habit of taking over and after the arrival of baby McD in early 2014 my wife and I started thinking about our longer terms plans. We were both fairly clear that we didn’t want to be in London much longer, so decided to take the plunge and move to Stockholm in Autumn 2014. My wife started a new job on our arrival and I took 6 months paternity leave from IMG whilst we settled in.

It soon became apparent that we would be happy living the Swedish dream – the support for parents and attitudes towards family life are fantastic. Where else could I have taken my (then 11-month old) son with me to a first meeting with the company who would go on to be my biggest client?! This obviously meant that I had a huge career decision to make. While I had hoped that I may be able to work something out to remain with IMG, my role was London based so it was never likely to work out on either side. I also had a notion for quite some time that I would like to go-it-alone and it felt that the time was right time to try. My spell at IMG had given me an almost unique insight into and experience of the golf industry (and of the wider sports, media and entertainment industries) and I wanted to continue to work in a field that I loved.

While trying to pull together a rough business plan for my new venture I was confident I could attract clients over time, but acutely aware of the risks of starting out from scratch. This was where LOD came in. I had been in touch with them from about a year or so previously to get a feel for how it might work and if they would be interested in someone with my background, so they knew who I was and what my plans were. My ideal scenario was that I would work remotely with LOD at the same time as building my own client base – allowing me to pursue the dream of setting up on my own without it being such a big financial risk.

My sports legal and business affairs consultancy (www.sportsandlegal.com) has been set up for around 6 months and I’ve been working with LOD for around the same length of time. I am fortunate enough now to have some good clients of my own, but I continue to supplement that with LOD assignments, which I can ramp-up or step back from depending on demand from my own clients. It works really well, and the quality of assignments I receive is excellent, as is the support and friendliness of the LOD team. So, thanks LOD for playing a part in helping me “go it alone” and giving me the flexibility to be an engaged dad (although I am now late for that nursery pick-up…)

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