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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL says

Jan Kleiner is “a studious, methodical lawyer” who is “the guy at the core of the issues in sports law” and a “very smart sports lawyer”.

Questions & Answers

Jan Kleiner co-heads our firm’s sport practice group. His practice covers contentious and non-contentious matters in the fields of national and international sports law as well as media, entertainment  and data protection law. He furthermore advises clients on technology and telecommunication law matters. Before joining Bär & Karrer in 2013, Jan Kleiner obtained a doctorate in international sports law from the University of Zurich, he was legal counsel in an international sports federation and a partner in a law firm specialised in sports, media and entertainment law. 

What inspired you to pursue a legal career? 

I have always been interested in what I think are key features of our wonderful profession as lawyers: arguing different points of view, trying to be as analytical as possible, scrutinising a counter-argument and identifying exactly where you disagree, trying to break down complex matters, working with words, pleading, giving presentations, etc.…at the end, I thought that in a legal career, I could use and hopefully improve these skills. 

What do you enjoy most about your role as co-head of the firm’s sports practice? 

What is wonderful about my role is that I work with a brilliant team. We all work hard together, we debate, we collaborate, we work on common projects and cases, most of all, we are a group of friends. In this, we have the privilege of combining our passion for sport with our passion for the law. 

What qualities make for an effective sports lawyer in the current climate? 

It is difficult to give an exhaustive set of qualities. What is certainly important is to be reactive and alert for new developments, to have an open mind and to be creative. Having a good network is also often key to finding quick solutions to complex, cross-border matters. It also helps to understand how sports federations work, ideally from experience as in-house counsel, for example. 

Finally, I think it is also the “good old” lawyer skills that help: knowing the law well, knowing the regulations well and being able to defend your client’s position. 

On what matters are clients coming to you most frequently at present? 

At present, we are still very active in complex international arbitration proceedings. These proceedings cover a great variety of topics and sports, for example disciplinary matters, financial matters, licensing issues, all from sports ranging from football to equestrian sports to surfing. We also regularly advise clients on regulatory questions, recently also very often in relation to covid-19. 

How has covid-19 had an impact on sports arbitration? 

Covid-19 is certainly a general challenge in what concerns the holding of in-person hearings, in particular with parties or arbitrators coming from abroad. I could also envisage that some of the “hot topics” in sports arbitration may slightly shift in the near future, for example towards employment-related or regulatory questions in relation to covid-19 that have still not been addressed in case law. 

It may also well be that the frequency of sports arbitration cases has a slight downturn because many competitions in sports did not take place, but we have full trust that we will soon be back on the pre-covid-19 level, once hopefully everybody will be safe and healthy again. 

To what extent can virtual hearings be relied on to decide high-stakes cases between parties? 

My personal view is that with the right technological setting and with parties that are willing to engage in the process and cope with possible difficulties, it is very much possible and an extremely valuable option in these complicated times.

It is true that there are also some downsides, in particular in witness cross-examination. It is difficult to read body language in a virtual hearing, one cannot immediately grasp the reaction of the tribunal, not everybody is in the same room, etc.  

However, in the current times, we must never forget that the most important thing is the safety and health of everybody. Therefore, we must all be willing to hold virtual hearings whenever necessary and whenever circumstances permit. 

How would you like your practice to develop over the coming years? 

We have had the privilege that our practice has been constantly growing over the past years, and we certainly wish for this to continue. We are also very happy that our work covers a wide range of different sports and topics and many of our cases have international, cross-border aspects to them. We have also been constantly growing our practice in commercial, sports-related matters and in issues related to data protection in sport. These are fields that we not only find very important, but also highly interesting, and we certainly hope for continued growth also in these aspects of our work. 

What advice would you give to younger lawyers looking to pursue a career in sports law?

At the end, I think that a passion for sports and a passion for the law are certainly the centrepieces of a successful career. Although I do not think that a career can be “planned” with certainty – and it also should not be seen as a fixed, straightforward line – thinking ahead is still always important. Where do I want to study? How can I work on my language skills? Do I want to do a post-graduate course? Do I want to work in-house first before joining a law firm?

There are certainly no black or white answers to many of these questions, and there is no recipe for a successful career. However, at the end, hard work and passion for what you do will always pay off! 

Global Leader

Sports 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Jan Kleiner is hailed as a “very smart sports lawyer” who has an “outstanding” reputation and is “very well known” in the Swiss market.  

Biography

Jan Kleiner Co-heads Bär & Karrer's sport, media and entertainment practice group. His practice covers contentious and non-contentious matters in the fields of national and international sports law as well as media, entertainment  and data protection law. He furthermore advises clients on technology and telecommunication law matters. Before joining Bär & Karrer in 2013, Jan Kleiner has obtained a doctorate in international sports law from the University of Zurich, he was Legal Counsel in an international sports federation and a Partner in a law firm specialized in sports, media and entertainment law. In addition, Jan Kleiner holds a Global Executive Master in International Sports Law from the Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia in Madrid (Spain).

Jan Kleiner regularly publishes on national and international sports law topics and data protection matters. He is a lecturer in international sports law at the University of Zurich and in various other national and international Sports Law Master programs. He is also a lecturer in data protection law at the University of Applied Sciences of the Canton of Graubünden. He furthermore acts as President of the Sports Law Alumni, an international Alumni organization of sports law graduates.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's Law Firm of the Year by the most important international legal ranking agencies in recent years.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Jan Kleiner is an “absolutely outstanding practitioner who is immaculately knowledgeable and capable”.

Biography

Dr Jan Kleiner is a partner at Bär & Karrer in Zurich, Switzerland. He co-heads the firm's sports, media and entertainment law department.

Jan Kleiner specialises in party representation in sports and entertainment-law related matters. He represents sports federations, high-level athletes, players and clubs before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), international sports federations and state courts, including the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. He regularly advises national and international clients in matters of media, entertainment and data protection law, with a particular focus on data protection in sports. He also acts as arbitrator at the German Institute for Arbitration and specialist panel member at Sports Resolutions UK.

Jan Kleiner holds a law degree and a doctorate in law (PhD) from the University of Zurich. He also graduated with a global executive master's degree in international sports law from the Higher Institute of Law and Economics (ISDE) in Madrid, Spain. Jan Kleiner is also the founder and president of the Sports Law Alumni Association.

Jan Kleiner is a lecturer in international sports law at the University of Zurich and on various other master programmes. He is a regular speaker at international conferences and he regularly publishes on national and international sports law, media and data protection law. Jan Kleiner is also an editorial board member of Football Legal and LawInSport.

For his doctoral thesis, Jan received the 2013–2014 Swiss Sports Law Association (ASDS) Prize for the country's best sports law thesis. This thesis provides a comprehensive legal analysis of the contractual relationship between a professional football player and a club, including all the relevant case law rendered by CAS, FIFA and Swiss state courts.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

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