Where are the lawyers in this summer of sport?

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By Alex Wade on

Right here


Sport is everywhere at the moment. No sooner do England crash out of Euro 2016 than the Tour de France kicks off — and a Brit strides (OK, pedals) to victory. It’s been summer of tennis, golf, cricket, F1, football transfer rumours and, in a few days, a small event in Rio known as the Olympics.

Where are the lawyers in all this? Not just behind the scenes, crafting contracts, monitoring IP infringements and filling hospitality tents. Not all of them, anyway. For it turns out that law and sport are not necessarily dissimilar.

Yes, lawyers wear suits, while sportspeople are usually clad in altogether skimpier attire. But actually the two pursuits are not dissimilar: they both require endurance, talent, skill and intelligence. Here are five sportspeople who took this notion one step further, becoming top sportspeople and bagging law degrees along the way.

Slaven Bilic


With an elegant touch and uncanny ability to read the game, former Hajduk Split, Karlsruher SC, Everton and West Ham United player Slaven Bilic always seemed a smarter footballer than most.

The Croatian won 44 caps between 1992 and 1999 for his country, played in UEFA European Championship 1996 and the FIFA World Cup 1998 — and found the time to acquire a law degree. He went on to manage the Croatian national team, and enlivened Euro 2016 with his incisive punditry for ITV.

Anita DeFrantz


Anita DeFrantz was studying law at Pennsylvania Law School when she competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics as a member of the United States women’s eight-oared shell, winning a bronze medal. She graduated the following year, and later became the first woman and the first African American to represent the US on the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Steve Young


Young’s most remarkable achievement is unique, and will take some time to be emulated: in 1994, he graduated in law and won the Super Bowl (with the San Francisco 49ers). After a highly successful career in American football, Young went into sports commentating and also had some acting roles, appearing in an episode of Frasier and Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman.

Caryn Davies


Like DeFrantz, Caryn Davies somehow found the time to study law and become a top-class oarswoman. Davies is a three-time Olympic medallist in Women’s Eight rowing, winning gold medals at the 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Davies has a law degree from Harvard University, and served as a clerk for Judge Richard Clifton, a Honolulu-based member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, from 2013-14. She is currently studying for an MBA at Oxford University.

Gudni Bergsson


Former Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur defender Gudni Bergsson played 80 times for his country, Iceland (aka, the well-known scourge of English football). His debut for Bolton was notable: he came on as a substitute at Wembley Stadium in the 1995 League Cup Final.

Despite his side ultimately losing to Liverpool, Bergsson gave the Bolton faithful hope with his first touch, supplying the cross for Alan Thompson to score. To this day a hero for Bolton supporters, Bergsson works as both a lawyer and TV host in Iceland.

Have we forgotten anyone? Let us know of other sportspeople with law degrees.