Episode 4: Fox Sports Legal Counsel Calli Tsipidis

INTRO

SAMARA JONES (FAME Careers and Sponsorship Coordinator): Hello and welcome to the FAME Law Students’ Associations’ podcast: The Brief. For the uninitiated, FAME stands for Film, Art, Media, and Entertainment. FAME LSA is a group of students from Melbourne Law School who are passionate about the arts and culture. In this podcast series we chat with the lawyers and artists working in the creative industries, learning about their daily work, career development and topical issues facing the industry.

COCO GARNER DAVIS (FAME Co-President): In today’s very special collaborative episode, FAME President Coco Garner Davis, and Melbourne Sports Law Association’s Vice President, Sonja Santa Maria, talk to Calli Tsipidis, a lawyer working as Legal Counsel at Fox Sports. 

SONJA SANTA MARIA (MSLA Vice President): Calli discusses the world of sports law, shedding light upon the challenges of working as an in-house lawyer and how thinking flexibly is a necessary part of the job. 

COCO: Additionally, as the Chair of CAMLA Young Lawyers Committee, Calli shares important insight in the value of networking and putting yourself out there to meet members of the legal community. We hope you enjoy!

Alright, so, welcome Calli to today’s episode of ‘The Brief’. So, I guess to start off we’ll get struck right into it. Tell us about yourself and what drew you to the in-house position at Fox Sports?

CALLI TSIPIDIS: Thanks for having me guys. It’s really lovely to have a chat with you. Just quickly, a little bit about me. So, I finished University in 2017. So not that long ago actually. I did a combined commerce/law degree at Macquarie Uni up here in Sydney and I suppose the key thing to know about me is that I love sports and working at Fox Sports, and in-house in a sports media organisation, is something that I’m so lucky to be a part of. When I was at University, I took Sports Law as an elective and I did a six-month internship at Football Federation Australia, whilst I was doing my practical legal training. But at the same time, I was working at a mid-tier law firm in property and commercial litigation. So, I suppose when I was wrapping up my studies I was quite ready for a couple of years, if not more, working in private practice. However, very fortunate, the job at Fox Sports opened up just after I completed my PLT. I was very grateful for the opportunity and I put my best foot forward and I haven’t looked back since. So, yeah, I suppose what really drew me to the in-house position was the ability to combine my legal career with my passion in sports and I think every day I am able to do that in my job which is great.

COCO: Yeah, that’s amazing. Wow.

SONJA: And what would you consider to be the essential skills and qualities for a successful lawyer working in-house for the media?

CALLI: So, I think it is probably best to split that into two. So, I think in-house and media are a little bit different and it might be good to split the two. So, in terms of in-house, I think a really important skill is to know who your clients are. So, when you’re working in-house your clients are your different business units. For me, I work with our, mainly, our marketing, production, partnerships and content teams, but I am always there for the other business units if they need. So, I suppose an essential skill for working in-house – doesn’t matter in what kind of industry – is to ensure you’re balancing your legal advice with the commercial interests of the business. So, whether that’s working for a construction company, working for, you know, media, working in broadcasting, you keep the, you know, considerations of the business, the commercial interests, at the forefront of your mind when you’re providing advice and that will, a lot of the time, inform the kind of advice you give them. Obviously, always making sure you’re dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s with the legal side as well, but the commercial interest will often advise – sorry – inform your advice in what the business ends up doing. For media specifically, you’re always on the go and every day is different. I can’t remember two days that have been the same since I started at Fox. So, I suppose, the big one – as an essential skill working in media – is flexibility; being able to drop everything and work on time-sensitive matters. Flexibility in terms of working to different people’s styles. Some people are quite formal, some people are very casual, and you have the extremities and everything in between. And I suppose the other important thing for media – working in media – is, because you’re working on, you know, lots of different things and every day is different, having attention to detail. A lot of the time, it’s quick turnarounds on projects. So, to make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re providing and you’re able to provide it quickly as the business needs it by making sure that you’re doing, you know, the best work that you can and you’ve got strong attention to detail because small mistakes sometimes turn into business decisions. So, keep that communication flow open and if you’ve made a mistake – and I say this for anyone – make sure you own up to it, work on it with the business, you know, it’s not a big deal. So, be honest with the business. If you’re not sure of something, ask your colleagues for questions. Ask people for more information because sometimes they don’t know to give you all the information so you can provide them with all the advice. So, ask lots of questions I think is a good one, doesn’t matter where you work.

COCO: I feel like that’s such real advice. That’s such a fear going into – 

CALLI: Yeah.

COCO: – into working is like oh my god I’m going to screw up in some way or another. So, I guess going on your kind of that – your experience that you spoke about. I mean, it’s so varied. Especially, since you only graduated in 2017. That’s insane. Having had both experience in-house and in a firm, what would you say are the key differences between the two? 

CALLI: I think I’ve touched on a couple, but I will mention again because I think this is probably the most important one – its, you’re giving commercial not just legal advice. So, sometimes the business will ask you a question that they think is legal, but really, it’s a commercial decision. So, they might think that ‘Oh, there are legal obligations here’, but at the end of the day it’s a business decision that they need to make. So, you’re wearing two hats. When you’re working in a firm, you’re wearing the legal hat. So, whilst it’s great to ask the business questions sometimes about, you know, the commercial parts of what you’re working on, a lot of the time they just want black letter; ‘How can I do this?’, ‘Advise whether I can or cannot do this’. Whereas, in-house, you can say, ‘I understand you want to do this project, you want to, you know, do this specific thing. We don’t think you should do it this way, how about you do it this slightly different way?’. And you provide them with ideas on how they can still get the same outcome, but perhaps through a different channel or different path. So, I think that’s a big difference. I think it’s probably a good quality to take to your client, if you did work in private practice as well. But a lot of the time it’s that black letter law advice versus – you know – I’m giving commercial and legal advice at the same time. Another big difference: you work as a generalist I think a lot of the time in-house, not as a specialist. So, in one day I’ll work on so many different projects touching different areas of the law. So, I’ll advise on something small, like reviewing a marketing asset. I’ll review three or four different contracts but for different parts of the business. So, a sports broadcast contract; a production contract with graphics for example; independent contract agreement with some of our on-screen talent and then I’ll work on a competition terms and conditions. So, it’s really different all the time, which is fantastic because you get to learn a lot, but you – unless you are at a more senior level, I think you don’t really specialise in one thing unless it’s a really big team and they’ve got you looking after a specific area. And I guess the other one is what I mentioned before about your relationships with your client. Your clients are your colleagues at the same time as being people who need you for legal advice. So, it’s great because in-house, my friends are my colleagues and they’re my clients as well. So, I can go have lunch with them – some of my friends from marketing – and then, you know, earlier that day or later that day we’re chatting about a project that they’re working on and they need legal advice. So, I understand that people have, in private practice, relationships with their clients, in this situation with them all the time and the important thing, I suppose, is to balance your relationship with them to make sure that you’re giving them the advice that they need. Looking out for their commercial interests, but making sure you’re giving them the legal advice they need as well. 

COCO: Amazing. 

SONJA: That sounds absolutely amazing in terms of the diverse work you can do as as Counsel at Fox Sports. Could you briefly just talk to us about the process of sports broadcasting contracting? So, for example, who initiates these deals and what are some of the challenges?

CALLI: I do not get to work on the very big broadcast deals that everyone probably hears about in the news. If I do, it’s very little bits here and there. So, I’ll leave that for the pros, but I can talk you through the general process and, you know, some of the smaller deals that I get to work on with that team. Fox Sports are really fortunate. We’ve got so much great content and there’s lots of different deals that happen. So, generally, it depends on the relationship with the governing bodies. So, with the small deals, a lot of the time you’ve got governing bodies or content creators that reach out to us as a broadcaster and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got this great platform, we’ve got this great content, would you be willing to pay for the content to show on your channel?’. Sometimes, they just want it on our channels to broadcast and they don’t require a fee. So, a lot of the time it is our content acquisitions team who has the relationships with all of these providers. They have the conversation with the external parties and then our acquisitions team speaks with us, the legal team, about how we go about documenting it. So, a lot of the time what happens is: we’ve got our template contracts, the draft ones, ready to go and sometimes you’ve got the third parties that have their own. Depending on, I guess, the value of the deal, we’ll either use one of theirs or one of ours. If it’s a bigger deal, more likely that they will prepare the draft and we’ll review it. If it’s a smaller deal, depending on the body, we’ll probably provide them with our draft. So, I suppose our acquisitions team and the third-party content provider work through all the commercial elements of the deal. So, you know, what programs are we getting? What are the fees? What’s the payment structure like? How can we use this content? Can we clip it up? Can we pop it into our additional programs? Are we able to use it for promotional materials? How long have we got it for? Is it live/non-live? And then they work with our programming teams to see where it can slot into our scheduling times and – which is really important if its live content and non-live as well – we need to make sure its shown at a good time because people don’t want to watch events from three years ago necessarily, unless it’s a classic. And then, the other big one is working with the production teams. So, if it’s a local or overseas production, is the expectation that we will be producing it? So, will we be sending camera crew and our personnel on site to produce it? Or will they just be sending us the feed which goes to our towers? Or will they be sending us just a recording of it? So, they’re the kind of commercial considerations and then obviously there’s this big back-end legal terms and conditions that come with it. And that’s where we talk about our obligations around, you know, what happens if there’s a cancellation? Think COVID – you know, what happens in that situation? What about flexibility in terms of production? Do we have minimum obligations? Do we have flexibility if there are changes to scheduling? Those sorts of things, and then your indemnities and warranties and all of that fun, boilerplate kind of stuff as well. So, a lot of the time, I suppose the challenge is that you’re either working with a governing body or a third party that’s from overseas and their expectations are sometimes different to what ours are, in terms of some of those boilerplate areas. In terms of commercial terms, that’s quite well handled by our commercial teams, and they work through a lot of those considerations with the third party. For us, I suppose, a challenge sometimes is aligning expectations of a third party with ours in terms of those legal obligations and requirements and making sure that we’re all on the same page. And then, I suppose, as with any contract, not just sports broadcasting, it’s about risk. So, is this likely to arise? Is this likely to affect us? What are the potential outcomes and consequences? What do we want to take a risk on? And those kinds of ones where you’re more comfortable to take a risk, you might not ask for the amendment or you might not push it. Those where you are definitely not comfortable, which – it’s the same sort of things for every contract that you’re aware of because you work on them more often, you push your case a bit and work on negotiating with the third party to get to that happy middle ground. 

COCO: Yeah, awesome. Well, I guess building on that kind of – the risk aspect, and when everything was put on hold, when sport was put on hold, in the middle of the year, start of the year – the whole year – for COVID-19, how did that affect your work? I mean, I know I was punching the air when the hub got up and running and the AFL was back. How was your work in particular affected?

CALLI: Yeah, I was punching the air too. I was so excited. It was so great when sports came back, I have to say. And I believe the A-League was the last kind of sport to stop and I remember watching that game with bated breath knowing that this could be it. So, I suppose in a practical sense, I’m working from home still and there’s a couple of days during the week where I do go in. I suppose working with a broadcaster there was a real focus on making sure that people that were working on the live broadcast were kept safe. So, they’ve stayed on site the whole time.

COCO: Oh wow.

CALLI: Yeah, which is fantastic for, you know, everyone who watches our content. Risky I suppose for them because they haven’t really had to change much of their day, they just have to take those extra precautions. But for the rest of us, it was learning how to work differently and to work with all of our, you know, partner organisations differently. Everyone was facing so many different challenges, and no-one was facing the same ones. So, whilst our challenges were about: what content are we going to be able to show? Are we going to have anything to show? Are we just going to be showing old matches? Do we keep all of our live ancillary content like our news and magazine programming going? And our partner organisations were thinking: well, how are we going to get paid for the content we provide when we don’t have any content to provide? So, the real, I suppose, challenge was making sure that we were working with our partners, that we all worked together within the business and with all our partner entities together towards a united goal which is always to keep everyone safe but to try and bring sports content back because that’s what everyone really wanted. So, in terms of how it affected the actual content: as you touched on, we had quite a significant period of time where there was no live sport and it slowly came back. So, I suppose there was so much work that went on during that interim period where there was no sport to bring. You know, I suppose we had like pop-up events come up where we did showcases of great moments in history and, you know, we had to come up with new ideas. So, what can we get to keep people watching? We had some great shows like we had this NRL live show, where we had – every morning for a couple hours – we had all of our NRL commentators come in and chat about issues that were arising at that point in time, which weren’t too many because they were all off-field. But talking about classic moments, ridiculing old matches with new commentators which was really fun to see some of those classic matches gets shown again with a different commentary, which I think would have been a dream gig for some people. Even me, I thought ‘Oh, I would love to be doing that!’. So that was really fun. So, I suppose it was just being – like I said before – about being flexible. Being really flexible to try new things, keeping our audiences interested and helping our governing bodies who are our partner organisations get their sports back up and running and supporting them as best we could. Whether that’s through changing our rights deals and working through different obligations to try and support each other differently or whether it was just, you know, telling them, ‘We’re here, go work out what’s best for you.’ Moving things around so we’ve got the hubs now for AFL, the NRL had this hub as well. A-League worked through a hub. And as you would have seen perhaps with ESPN as well, even our overseas broadcast partners – all of the NBA finals have taken place in one kind of area and it is a new world. So, making sure that – if you look at that as an example – that we were able to support all the sporting bodies here to do the same thing. And thankfully, we’ve gotten through nearly all of our footy code seasons, which has been great, and we are around the corner from finals. And if I think back to March, April, it wasn’t looking likely that we were going to get anyone back out on the fields again. It’s been a really great accomplishment and a testament I think to everyone who works so hard on everything. 

COCO: Yeah, absolutely. 

SONJA: Yeah and speaking of changes and being adaptable; we’ve seen a lot of things happen in 2020. Not just with the COVID situation but we have also seen sports increasingly become a platform for advocating various causes. Especially in the US at the moment with, for example, athletes taking a knee during the national anthem. Do you have any thoughts on the role that sports media play in relation to activism on the field. So, I mean, should we keep politics out of sports and what are some of the legal challenges associated with dealing with this?

CALLI: That’s a really good question, very topical as well. I think, and this is my personal opinion, I think sport has a really unique ability to speak about issues that affect the wider community, whether they’re political issues or not. So, I think the fact that sports bring so many people together for that united purpose of watching a sporting event, getting behind your team, I think it has that ability to unite people. So, I think it’s a great platform, not just to help advocate issues, to bring people together on certain issues, rather than cause divides. And I think some people perhaps perceive sport as a tool, a political tool, to help drive home a certain issue or a certain agenda item. I don’t think that’s how it should be used. I think it’s great to raise awareness and I really – I’m loving what the NBA players are doing at the moment. The taking the knee issue is obviously something that has been a big issue in the NFL over the last few years and you’ve seen governing bodies and chairmen of clubs really go against players to do that. But I really love what the NBA is doing currently and it’s not – you know – it’s still all about the sport and using the sport to unite people, but I love that players are able to advocate issues that they’re passionate about by putting it on the back of their guernseys. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, whether it’s ending poverty – you’ve seen various things popped on people’s guernseys and I think that’s a great way to do it. Where it’s not understated to the point it is just something done as a token kind of – it’s not tokenistic. It’s something that they’re showing that – you know what, it’s there on people’s guernseys, you’re going to see it for the entire game, but we are not going to draw too much attention to it to use it as a tool. So, I think that’s probably the best way that sport should do it. In terms of challenges, I know that there are quite a few legal challenges with, I suppose, using sports as a tool for bringing home political messages or other kinds, but I think the really important challenge is the commercial challenge. And I think this is just – I’m bringing back the exact same issue about working in-house but I think it can cause a lot of issues with broadcasters and governing bodies and teams where, if a team is really in support of an issue, but the broadcaster isn’t, for example, then the governing bodies in this really awkward position where they have to balance interests. If the broadcaster’s not happy, are they, you know, going to withhold payment, for example? If the team isn’t happy, are they going to show up to games? So, I think the real issue there is making sure that all of the parties are happy. Which is why I think what the NBA has done has been really good, because it’s not making it such a big issue that it’s something that either party would overtly be objecting to because it’s taking away from the purpose of the contract at the end of the day. And the other thing I think that’s the challenge is – for some sports, not all of them – if you’re bringing to light all these political issues, I think it brings to light the fact that that a lot of sports governance and integrity within the organisations has been up in the air and quite questionable for some, you know, sporting bodies of late. And there’s a lot of high-profile instances where you see, you know, reputation damage and the public’s trust is gone within these sporting organisations. So, its pot calling kettle black I think sometimes as well. So, take care of what’s going on inside your organisation. Be a good voice, facilitate that dialogue but don’t use it as a political tool I think, you know. People go to sport to see sport, so it’s nice to, I think, give it a nod but don’t overdo it necessarily. 

COCO: Yeah, such a good point. And kind of – I agree with what you’re saying with the NBA because they’ve made it so individual to the player. Where the individual players – the issue that they are most passionate about can be represented on their guernsey. It also makes for a great guernsey. I know Colin Kaepernick’s number seven just sold out within minutes.

CALLI: Yeah and that’s interesting too because I suppose, is that commercialising the issue a bit at all?

COCO: Oh, yeah. 

CALLI: Does that take away from it? I don’t know, it’s very interesting. 

COCO: Yeah, it’s such a huge topic at the moment. So interesting. I guess, yeah, moving on from that – on the media kind of aspect in your side hustles, how did you become involved in CAMLA? Which we all love, the students love, and we have all gone to the events and love it. How did you get involved and what’s that been like? 

CALLI: Thanks for your support guys, it’s always great. And I think as an aside, before I get too much into it, the fact that we are living in a remote world is great because it means that all of our colleagues and friends from interstate can now join in to our events, which were previously in person. So CAMLA is just, for those of you first time playing along, CAMLA is the Communication and Media Law Association. So, we’re a New South Wales based kind of entity and what we do is, it’s a bunch of lawyers and we come together, and we hold seminars on different legal events in the communication/media law space. We release a quarterly publication, and we hold networking events and the like for people working within the industry. So, it’s not just legal professionals. We’ve got people from political backgrounds, broadcasting backgrounds, journalists and the like, all coming together for these kinds of events and to, I suppose, stay in touch with what’s new in the world of communication and media law. I became involved in CAMLA when I started working at Fox Sports, which was fantastic. I went to my first ever CAMLA event, it was a speed mentoring event where I got to meet so many fantastic people either at my level or at a more senior level and got to network with them on the evening. And I haven’t really stopped going to those events since. There’s some great seminars that they hold every year and I got to go to a couple of those and I thought, ‘You know what? I really like what this organisation does, I’d like to get involved’. So, I was on the committee, the CAMLA Young Lawyers Committee, which is aimed at law students and young professionals working in the area, so, five years or less sort of experience. And earlier this year I was very fortunate to be, you know, nominated as chair of the Young Lawyers Committee. I have a fantastic team, there’s about 15 of us that all work together to bring all those events to light. Whether it’s our speed networking event, whether it’s our in-person networking event or our 101 webinars, we all work together to, I suppose, bring those kinds of events together. We contribute to the communications law bulletin and we work on our own sort of projects, which – there’s a couple in the works that will be great for our interstate listeners, so keep an eye out. It’s been a really great experience and something that I can’t, I suppose, promote enough is networking with people who work in the industry even if it’s – I think some people misconstrue networking as an ability to try and get yourself ahead in your career. I think, for me, networking is not just using, you know, connections that you have for your career purposes but to understand a bit more about what’s involved in the industry. For myself, I came out of a completely different area, straight out of Uni, working in private practice and now to working in-house. It’s great to know what other people who work in the space do for a day to day. Whether it’s private practice – I hear what some of the projects that some of my CAMLA colleagues work on and I think, ‘That’s incredible’. I couldn’t do that because theirs is more – you know – we go to them when we need expert advice on certain matters, whereas we are the ones dealing with the day to day kind of issues. So, it’s great to bounce ideas off sometimes, to understand what it’s like if you’re looking for a career change. If I wanted to move to private practice I’d chat to some of my CAMLA colleagues and say, ‘Can you tell me, what is it like? Because I love communications and media law. What’s it like working in that space in private practice’? And it’s a great way to just make – to develop friendships and not just networks and you get to learn quite a bit as well. So, last week we had a 101 on suppression and non-publication orders – not something that I work in at all on a day to day, but I learnt so much just from doing a Q & A with a couple of specialists in the area. So, it’s fantastic from that aspect as well and if there’s similar organisations or committees in Melbourne, I couldn’t be a bigger advocate for you guys to join or at least attend some events. They’re great.

SONJA: Definitely. I think it’s definitely beneficial to have insight from anyone in the industry or just in general to understand the different aspects involved. Could you share some of your challenges and highlights of your career so far, please?

CALLI: Sure. I’m very fortunate, I have quite a few highlights, but I think I’ll start with the challenges first, we can end it on a high.

SONJA: Okay.

CALLI: In terms of challenges, I think you guys touched on a couple already in terms of COVID and that was a very challenging time for, not just our business, but for the industry generally and the whole world. So, that’s been a big challenge and I think everyone learnt quite a bit through it. And coming out the other side and having this fantastic, you know, sports content that’s still going and all these great projects that we did to try and keep the momentum going and keep the interest there – that was the challenge, but it was a great learning experience. In a more practical sense, a challenge that I face in my day to day is that I work across the entire Foxtel group. So, whilst a lot of what I do is in the sporting world, I’m part of the Foxtel legal team. So, not only do I work on the Fox Sports products, but I help work with Foxtel products. Including our Foxtel for Business products and I work for Stream Motion who are our – they are our streaming service. So, they operate Kayo Sports, Binge and our Watch AFL and Watch NRL which are international streaming products. So, it’s a fantastic role, but it can be really challenging because I work for all these different business units, for all those different entities, and I want to support all of their ideas but I have to help juggle business interest, keep in line with our legal and regulatory obligations, advise around relationships with, you know, our contractual relationships and the like. And I need to make sure the businesses are talking to one another and collaborating. Sometimes, they don’t speak to one another because they are working on different projects. So, sometimes it’s important to say to the Kayo team, ‘Hey, have you spoken to the Foxtel Sports team about how you’re executing this’? Because sometimes there are clashes. Sometimes they are coming up with the same idea and I want to make sure that they know that. So, that’s a bit of a challenge but it keeps me on my toes which is great. And the fact that I get to be involved in, you know, so many different aspects of different businesses is just – it’s a fantastic opportunity. In terms of highlights, I’ll just give you guys my top three because I love what I do so I could go on for ages – but a couple of big ones for you. So, I – as part of my Fox Sports legal team from back in the day before we were a merged team – I was one of the lawyers that advised on and assisted with the build of Kayo Sports, which is Australia’s multi-sports streaming platform. That was at the end of 2017 when we started and it launched in, kind of, early 2018. So, I got thrown into that very early on in my time at Fox Sports and Kayo is a fantastic product. It was a big challenge because there was so much I needed to learn in such a short space of time and your workload kind of doubles straight away. So, I suppose, being part of that process and seeing the outcome and seeing the great product that Kayo is today is a game changer. I love it. I use it all the time. That’s a great pleasure to see the product and use the product now and say, ‘Hey, I helped build that’. Or I see bits and I’m like, ‘Oh, I advised on that’. It’s really cool. I think – oh yeah, recently as well Kayo did a pay-per-view event. That was the first one it ever did, and I got to work really close with the team on that so that was fantastic. And it was great initiative too because, as you guys would know, a lot of people were in lockdown for that fight and you’d normally go to a friend’s house or go to the pub to watch it. So, it’s great to give to people the opportunity to watch it and not need, you know, a Foxtel box at home to watch it. So that was really great. I also got to work on the build of Binge and I suppose, having the knowledge of Kayo, it was – I dare say – I don’t want to say a lot easier, but it was a lot simpler in some ways because the product base was kind of there and it was just working on customer flows and journeys and communication, like draft comms templates. I suppose, taking all of my knowledge and using it in a drama, entertainment and movies context, not a Sports context, which is a little bit different, something that I don’t normally get to do. So, that was really cool. And, I suppose, just a general highlight, which is not – don’t get to do it as much now because it’s in the office but I get to be around my favourite thing all day which is sports and people talking about sports. Not just games on the weekend but, okay, so we broadcast this match and, how can we make it better? And even though I don’t get to work on all that stuff, just hearing it, being around it and having the ability to put my two cents in for something that I love and watch every weekend is so fantastic. It’s pretty cool when you’re in the office, you go down for a coffee and there’s your favourite, you know, player or your heroes over there, getting a coffee and having a chat with someone. It’s very surreal, definitely was when I first started and I can say, it does not get any easier. I still get starstruck, I’ve just tried to reign it in a little bit. So, it’s pretty cool.

COCO: Yeah, that’s so cool. Definitely, very different, to kind of, the image of a private practice. 

CALLI: Yes. 

COCO: So, pretty exciting. And if you could give one key piece of advice to a law student hoping to follow your footsteps, and see their favourite sports players at coffee each day, what would it be?

CALLI: I think, when I was in probably your shoes I was very resigned to the fact that I had to take a certain path and I had to do things a certain way. But, if an opportunity knocks, take it. Introduce yourself to that person, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to, you know, put in an expression of interest in an organisation that you’d be keen to work at. Even if it’s just to have a coffee with someone to ask them what it’s like to work there. You’d be surprised how open people are to chatting to you, to giving you some advice, to introducing you to people or keeping you in mind, you know, next time there’s a job availability or if their friend works somewhere that might be good for you. So, take opportunities, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to approach people because if I had known that I would have felt so much more comfortable leaving University and thinking about where my path could take me. Where I am now, I would not be if it was not for the fact that I, you know, tried different things. I went for an internship when I was already working for somewhere else. I took the opportunity and that was of great benefit because, you know, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t done that. So, be brave and be bold and don’t be afraid. 

COCO: Good advice.

SONJA: Great pieces of advice, definitely relevant right now. Especially with the employment market for legal students coming out of COVID – it’s not that great at the moment. 

CALLI: Yeah, challenges. But look if there’s an entity that you’re interested in working for, just start a conversation with someone. It never hurts and, you know, I think senior people that work in those organisations are really flattered when young people do want to talk to them because you sometimes get into the flow and its everyday work and you don’t think that anyone is interested in what you do. But so many people are, which is – it’s very flattering but if you can use that knowledge – and I’m sure a lot of people would say the same thing – If I could use my knowledge to help, that’s great. I’d rather do that than just keep it all within me. So, yeah, don’t be afraid guys. 

SONJA: Definitely. And a final question: being Melbourne based we love our AFL, so which AFLW or AFL team do you back? Very important question. 

CALLI: It is a very important question. Don’t judge me, I am from Sydney, so I have to say the Swans. Although, a bit disappointing this season. It’s been interesting though because, I feel like, whatever you would have envisaged before the season started, there was such a big change. Like, look at Brisbane this season, West Coast couldn’t play when they were outside of WA and some of your Melbourne house teams have kept going well. So, you know, COVID – anything happens. But yeah, I have to say the Swannies and I’ve got my scarf in my drawer next to me. And I have been fortunate to get to go to some Swannies games but, you know, like, I’m always open to cheering for another team if it’s a great game. But yeah, Swans all the way. 

COCO: Love it. Well, thank you so much for joining us Calli, that was awesome and I’m sure our students will glean so much from what you’ve said. 

CALLI: Thank you so much for having me and yeah, good luck with everything guys. And you know, ask the questions and reach out to me if you ever want to have a chat. I’m more than happy to. 

COCO: You’ve been listening to ‘The Brief’ in collaboration with Melbourne Sports Law Association. This episode was hosted by Coco Garner Davis and Sonja Santa Maria. The theme song and sound was produced by Leah Alysandratos. A very big thank you to Call Tsipidis for chatting with us. Special thanks to Ashley Stocco for producing the transcript. Thanks also to all the FAME LSA committee members and ambassadors for their support, as well as Melbourne Sports Law Association’s for their support and the opportunity to collaborate. And thanks to YOU for listening. If you want to hear or learn more about FAME LSA, like us on Facebook and Instagram, and visit our website at famelsa.com. If you’re a lawyer working in the film, art, media, publishing, entertainment, or even sports space, or want to get involved with FAME, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email at general.famelsa@gmail.com

SONJA: Anyone interested in sports law and finding relevant opportunities, please ensure you follow Melbourne Sports Law Association on Facebook and visit our website.

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