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Thought Leaders Global Elite - Sports 2021

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Paul Greene is an “extremely successful” sports lawyer, hailed as “highly skilled” and “always ensures his approach mirrors the clients’ preferred strategies”.  

Questions & Answers

Paul J Greene, the founder of Global Sports Advocates, is a 2021 WWL Global Elite Thought Leader. Paul represents athletes and sports governing bodies, both domestic and international. This past year, Paul successfully handled some of the world’s highest-profile sports law cases. Notably, he represented Jarrion Lawson in the first ever anti-doping case where an athlete was exonerated because of meat contamination at the world’s top sports court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Describe your career to date.  

In more than a decade-long career as a sports lawyer, I have successfully represented athletes and sports governing bodies from all parts of the world and a wide variety of different sports. I have lectured at law schools and sports law conferences in both Europe and North America. The most far-flung place I have traveled for a hearing was Baku, Azerbaijan. My favorite place to visit for work is Lausanne, Switzerland.  

What qualities do clients look for in an effective sports lawyer?  

Clients look for a sports lawyer with a trusted and proven track record of success, who can effectively guide them and help them to achieve the best possible result.

What has been the most significant development in sports law since you started practising? 

The most significant development in sports law since I started practising has been the emergence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) (based in Lausanne, Switzerland) as the global “Supreme Court for Sport,” featuring some of the world’s most highly regarded arbitrators. This has led to the development of a body of case law that governs the global sports movement today (called “lex sportiva”). At the forefront of this movement are cases that interpret the World Anti-Doping Code, which has been ratified by nearly 200 countries. My practice as an international sports lawyer has evolved over the past decade coinciding with the emergence of the CAS and the development of lex sportiva.

To what extent is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) an effective body in resolving disputes?  

The CAS is very effective in resolving disputes. It has grown rapidly as an independent global sports tribunal and made several landmark decisions over the past decade. One such landmark decision involved a determination on the eligibility of Russian long jumper, Darya Klishina, to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Klishina was declared ineligible to compete in the Olympics just days before her event was scheduled to begin. As Klishina’s lawyer, I challenged the decision and represented her before the CAS Ad Hoc Panel in Rio. The CAS held a four-hour hearing on-site, while hordes of reporters covered the proceedings outside. A decision was issued by the CAS early the next morning in Klishina’s favor that rendered her immediately eligible to compete. Klishina would go on to be the lone Russian track and field athlete to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Klishina’s case showed how the CAS can effectively resolve a highly controversial dispute within a matter of hours with the eyes of the world watching.  

What impact has the development of technology had on your practice in recent years? 

The development of technology has had a big impact on my practice in recent years. The continued emergence of reliable international platforms like WhatsApp, Skype and Signal allow me to securely communicate with clients around the world every day. Also, the newfound ability to submit briefs and exhibits electronically allows for a more efficient and cost-effective approach as compared to the “old days” (just a few years ago) when we prepared hard copies of submissions and physically sent them around the world by way of Fedex or DHL.

What makes Global Sports Advocates stand out from the competition in this field? 

My firm seeks to make a genuine connection with each client. This relationship is essential since clients put their faith and trust in Global Sports Advocates to guide them through the ups and downs of their deeply personal cases. Clients have remarked that Global Sports Advocates takes a uniquely empathetic approach to representation, so our approach must be working. We also bring a passionate commitment to achieve a fair and equitable result for every client.   

What are the greatest challenges the sports industry faced with the advent of covid-19? 

The advent of covid-19 has fundamentally transformed the sports industry. It has become enormously challenging to safely hold a sporting event and even harder for athletes to travel overseas to compete. Let us hope that the threat of the pandemic abates in 2021 so that athletes at all levels can safely take to the field of play again. The 2021 summer Olympics in Tokyo and 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing could well hang in the balance.

Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement? 

My proudest achievement is that I have built a globally respected, self-reliant sports law firm.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Paul Greene is an “extremely successful” sports lawyer, hailed as “highly skilled” and “always ensures his approach mirrors the clients’ preferred strategies”. 

Questions & Answers

Paul J Greene, the founder of Global Sports Advocates, is a 2021 WWL Thought Leader for Sports. Paul handles sports law matters globally, including cases before the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Paul is recognised for his successful representation of athletes in high-profile sports disputes, particularly anti-doping cases. In 2020, he prevailed on behalf of Jarrion Lawson in a landmark case of an athlete exonerated because of meat contamination at the CAS.

Describe your career to date. 

During my career as a sports lawyer, I have successfully represented athletes competing in a wide variety of different sports from all parts of the world. I have also successfully represented sport governing bodies both in the US and abroad. Clients put their faith and trust in me and the other lawyers at my law firm, Global Sports Advocates, to guide them through the ups and downs of their deeply personal and often emotionally charged cases. I have enjoyed the unique opportunities my career has provided to travel and see many parts of the world. The most far-flung place I have travelled was Baku, Azerbaijan. My most memorable trip was to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games. My favourite place to travel in the world is Lausanne, Switzerland. 

What qualities make for a successful sports lawyer? 

Clients look for a sports lawyer with a trusted and proven track record of success who can effectively guide them and help them to achieve the best possible result. A successful sports lawyer must be (1) able to speak frankly with both their clients and opposing counsel about a particular case, (2) a quick study who properly educates themselves on the factual and legal nuances of each case, (3) a zealous advocate who is properly guided by the truth in the quest for the best possible outcome, and (4) always beholden to the high ethical standards that lawyers are bound to uphold.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners on how best to break into sports law? 

I would advise all young practitioners to first identify what path they wish to follow as they seek to break into the field of sports law, since everyone has a different vision of what “success” as a sports lawyer looks like. Once they identify their path, I would urge them to be “all in”. Being “all in” means devoting your best to everything you do. The young practitioner who takes this approach will find opportunities for “success” as they define it in the field of sports law.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports lawyer? 

Clients come to me in moments when their careers are often hanging in the balance. I most enjoy prevailing on behalf of someone in that situation, enabling them to move beyond a challenging patch in their life so they can return to pursuing their hopes and dreams.

What impact has covid-19 had on your work and the sports market so far?

The advent of covid-19 has fundamentally transformed the sports industry. It has become enormously challenging to safely hold a sporting event and even harder for athletes to travel overseas to compete. Let us hope that the threat of the pandemic abates in 2021 so that athletes at all levels can safely take to the field of play again. 

What significant changes do you see arising from the new World Anti-Doping Code on the 1 January 2021? 

The most significant change arising from the new 2021 World Anti-Doping Code is the fresh sanctioning approach taken for athletes who test positive for “substances of abuse” (designated initially as cocaine, marijuana, heroin and ecstasy). As of 1 January 2021, athletes who test positive for a substance of abuse will face a three-month period of ineligibility (which could be reduced to a one-month period of ineligibility if an athlete completes a treatment programme). This is vastly different than the prior sanctioning approach where athletes faced bans of up to four years for the same conduct. 

How effective have virtual hearings been and are they here to stay in a post-covid-19 world? 

Virtual hearings in the past year have effectively filled the gap during the current pandemic to enable sports disputes to be resolved. While there will always be a place for a virtual hearing in an emergency setting to resolve a case with a very short deadline, I hope that in-person hearings remain the primary way that cases are handled in a post-covid-19 world. There is still no replacing the human interaction that takes place when everyone involved in a hearing is in the same room. 

Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement? 

My proudest achievement is that I have built a globally respected, self-reliant sports law firm. I derive the most professional satisfaction from the thank you notes I have received over the years from clients who appreciated the job I did as their sports lawyer.

Global Leader

Sports 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Paul Greene is an “extremely successful” sports lawyer, hailed as “highly skilled” and “always ensures his approach mirrors the clients’ preferred strategies”.  

Biography

Paul J Greene, the founder of Global Sports Advocates, is recognised by WWL as one of the world’s leading sports lawyers.  He has been a Global Elite - Thought Leader for sports law (one of five from North America) for the past three years.

Paul has handled sports law matters around the world, including numerous hearings before the international Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland – known as the “Supreme Court for sports law”.  Paul has represented athletes from more than 20 countries and more than 30 different sports. He is best known for his successful advocacy on behalf of athletes in high-profile matters, including his representation of Russian long jumper Darya Klishina before an ad hoc panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games.  Greene prevailed on behalf of Klishina and overturned the IAAF’s decision to declare her ineligible. This past year, Greene successfully represented UFC world champion Jon Jones before the Nevada State Athletic Commission and secured a first of its kind ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport for Olympian Jarrion Lawson, who was found to have “No Fault” because the source of a banned substance in his body was beef contaminated with hormones.

Paul is a well-known speaker and author in the area of sports law, both nationally and internationally, and is also a professor of sports law.  Paul is an editorial board member of leading sports law publications LawInSport and Football Legal; a long-time member of the Sports Lawyers Association; and a member of RexSport, an international association of sports lawyers.

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