Gareth Bale's lawyer Grant Gordon never thought he'd pass up an opportunity to show affinity with a client. But at the Fladgate team's first meeting with Tottenham Hotspur Superstar Gareth Bale to discuss what was to become the most lucrative transfer deal of all time at a cool 85M pounds, Grant thought it best to keep schtum about his life-long fanship of Spurs and his precious season ticket for the West Upper Stand at White Hart Lane.
"I found myself in a curious position", he told me once the media furore had died down. "Normally it's the first thing you do when you take instructions from a client: you find common ground, establish a personal connection. But the fact this deal was all about Gareth leaving Spurs put an entirely different complexion on the matter. We had the best team in town to handle the transaction, (Fladgate having been involved in some of the earliest image rights cases, helping to establish the law in this area; having a long pedigree in corporate dealmaking also), and we knew this was set to be market-leading so were fielding our A team, all of us excited and totally committed to make it a success. So I didn't want to spoil this and for Gareth to have even a hint of a thought in his mind that my sentiments for Spurs meant I wasn't 110% behind the success of the deal, that I wasn't unconsciously hoping, not even in a little corner of me, that it might fail."
I think the result he got for his client shows his professional commitment to the task, don't you? I took the opportunity this week to ask him what he found most interesting. What was it like having such a stratospheric superstar for a client?
"For me what was so fascinating was the fact that this deal was so much about the personal. Us corporate lawyers are not so used to it. It's true at Fladgate we are used to advising high profile sports, media and other businesses on these types of deals." [The firm's sports practice is long established looking after some of the most high profile businesses in the football, motor racing, cricket, golf, cycling worlds, etc.] "And yes, we regularly advise high profile directors on sales of their business, once-in-a-lifetime transactions, that change their lives forever. But this deal took that personal element to another level altogether because so much of the value focussed on Gareth's image rights. And considering the speed of his meteoric rise, he's hardly had time himself to catch up with how his identity has changed. Aside from the legal complexities in this deal, (it involved a heady mix of corporate, tax, regulatory, IP, image and media rights and employment law), there were a lot of soft issues to grapple with as well, as we helped our client think through his position and the financial worth attached, both now and into the future. It was fascinating to help him work through this."
And given Grant and his colleagues at Fladgate landed him a world record deal, seems they did a pretty good job! #i'llsay
When a very good friend-in-law sent me this choice cartoon from his Dilbert desk calendar, (12 September if you're interested), a number of law firms immediately sprang to mind: conversations I've had with frustrated communications people, their attempts to drag their employers into the digital age continually thwarted by concerns about controlling what people say. There's a serious point here about the need for social media policies to enable the immediacy required in the digital communications environment at the same time as ensure appropriate levels of management control. But that's for another day. For now, let's just enjoy the joke!
The prize for legal tweet of the week definitely goes to @Wigapedia (aka Hardwicke's Colm Nugent) for this absolute gem:
"Mylie Cyrus gets naked & licks a hammer and its apparently "art". My client does it, and he gets thrown out of Homebase."
Thanks for ending our week with a smile!