Esports Insider Careers Series – Isabel Davies – a legal perspective

Welcome to the first proper piece of the Esports Insider Careers Series. After I gave a brief introduction to my own personal background in what probably comes across as an extensive ramble, we’re moving on to the real business now!

The first collection of pieces will focus in and around the legal industry. This is the first of a three part legal series, in which I speak to Isabel of Purewal, Max of Mishcon and Rahul of ESL. Each of the interviewees work within legal but given the companies, all in very different roles.

Isabel Davies

Isabel Davies is a trainee solicitor at Purewal & Partners, a boutique law firm providing legal and business advice to the video games, esports and digital entertainment industries. Purewal and Partners’ clients include Fnatic, G2, CD Projekt Red and Riot Games.

We spoke to Isabel about how she got into her role, what it entails and her advice for anyone wanting to get into the space.


 

ESI: Tell us a bit about your general background! Where did your passion for esports and gaming stem from?

Isabel: My first experience of gaming was at around 6 or 7 years old watching my dad play Tomb Raider. I subsequently spent big chunks of my childhood playing on the PC and PlayStation 2 with my sisters. I got into esports at around 18 years old, due to my love for StarCraft 2 and South Korean culture. About a year after graduating university I switched to Dota 2, although I’ve been binging on PUBG since the summer!

ESI: Moving more into how you ended up doing the job you do. Obviously when it comes to the legal side, there’s a whole set of barriers to actually practice. What’s the steps you need to take for those unaware?

Isabel: The road to becoming a solicitor is not an easy one! The route varies from country to country, but typically it means getting an undergraduate degree at university, then in some countries (including the UK) a vocational law course, followed by a period of training at a law firm or with an in-house legal team.

“Passion is a prerequisite, but success requires a lot more than that!”

Above is the traditional route, although mine has been a little different! I I’m doing my period of training at the same time as studying my vocational law degree part time. It’s intense but I am glad to have done it this way; I’ll be qualifying in the spring.

ESI: Is there any special formula for entering the legal profession but specifically dealing with video games and esports issues?

Isabel: Law is generally very competitive, but wanting into go into an area that involves the media or entertainment industries tends to add another layer of competition.

However, there is no one fixed formula for getting into video games and esports law. Having a solid academic background is nearly always a necessity and you do have to think about how your skillset will transfer into games and esports, even if you don’t have any direct experience.

ESI: Generally speaking about games and esports, do you see an issue with people thinking passion is enough to make you succeed? Do you think it’s always better to be as qualified as possible before entering the industry?

Isabel: Passion is a prerequisite, but success requires a lot more than that! At Purewal & Partners, we try to combine passion with industry knowledge, legal expertise and great client service.  Although I am passionate about the industry, I have worked hard and had to learn a lot of new skills to get to where I am now.

My first job out of university was at Disney Interactive and then I subsequently joined King’s legal team. I happened to get my foot in the door very early, which is unusual.

The most common route is that lawyers tend to start in general practice then move towards their speciality over time, much like my boss Jas who was in general practice for 5 years before fully moving into games and esports.

If you train in a firm with no games department (which is likely given it is quite the niche!), you might be able to pick up relevant experience in areas such as traditional media, commercial law or intellectual property law. One of my colleagues, Pete, trained at a traditional law firm but had relevant legal experience and wrote a blog on legal issues in games; he moved to the firm when he qualified.

“Be nice to everyone, keep in touch and you never know where your paths will cross again.”

Essentially, all of these routes are desirable and viable! Legal roles in games/esports do not pop up super frequently, but the level of qualification needed can vary a lot, so it is worth keeping your eyes peeled at all stages of your career. To shamelessly plug the firm, we are hiring at the moment across a range of roles – check them out here.

ESI: What is your day-to-day job like and why would you recommend it to anyone looking to get into esports? What are the most pertinent legal issues at the moment?

Isabel: No day is ever the same! I do a mix of video games, esports and digital broadcast (YouTubers and streamers) work, so anything from reviewing a game from an EU law compliance perspective, transferring professional esports players to their new team or helping a YouTube client with their merchandising strategy.

This year some of the biggest esports have undergone huge restructuring in their competitive leagues. How these systems are built and implemented have significant impact on teams, players and on-air talent and the potential legal, regulatory and commercial issues can be incredibly far reaching. It will be very interesting to see how these new leagues develop in the next few years.

For those who know and care about esports, being involved with projects that could shape the entire industry at this formative stage is incredibly exciting, tough and rewarding. Esports is not for the faint-hearted!

ESI: What’s your top tip for entering the esports and gaming realm?

Isabel: The video games and esports industries are tight knit and it really is a ‘small world’. Be nice to everyone, keep in touch and you never know where your paths will cross again.