Jiří Hradský: "Is a lawyer needed in esports?"

In 2019, we founded the Právo hraje ↗. Let's face it, we were really excited to finally be able to break into the world of video games with a legal services offering.

But we've hit a bit of a snag. Because for many, a lawyer is synonymous with trouble, high costs and expensive suits. So we had to enter law and esports in a different direction - education. And we tried to show that the lawyer is no longer the classic stereotype.

What does a typical lawyer look like?

Esport & Gaming summit 2022

At the end of April I attended an event called Esport & Gaming summit 2022 ↗. During one of the lectures, a very interesting piece of information was given, "The evolution of pop culture has led to CEOs of big esports teams talking to their lawyer about last night's League of Legends before an important meeting with their partners."

Like any field, law is evolving. And pop culture has affected it too. A lawyer is no longer a person who wears expensive suits, has an office with a luxurious mahogany desk, and starts counting hundreds of coins for every minute when he visits a client.

I have my own take on it: 'Esport can be glad it is coming of age at a time when the law is moving forward by leaps and bounds.'  Today's lawyer is adaptable, a partner who helps you grow and wants to grow with the client. You don't even have to see a lawyer in person today, everything can be mastered online (okay, maybe sometimes you can't avoid it).

Stereotypes about lawyers are simply a relic. What can we learn from this?

These days, you can chat with a lawyer about League of Legends and get a legal service that's well worth it. The added value is definitely that he'll think for you. He may ask a lot of questions, but that's just to understand how you think so that he can just take over the thinking for you.

Lawyers in esports - Are they needed?

We may be shooting ourselves in the foot, but you don't always need a lawyer in esports. I don't want to "sell" in this article that a lawyer is the alpha omega of every action that for example an esports team will take.

When is a lawyer possibly needed?

If you are starting a new esports team, there are several different forms you can choose from. For example, go the way of an LLC or the way of an association. By the way, we have also written a short article ↗ on this. However, you most likely won't need a lawyer for the actual establishment.

That is, assuming you don't choose some crazy legal form or set up complex relationships within the company.

Similarly, you can think about a situation where you are organising a smaller event, such as a tournament, on a one-off basis. The rules of the tournament are often up to the organiser. A lawyer can come in handy when you want to check contract documentation with sponsors, lease agreements for premises. However, they will certainly not sort out for you what the terms of the prize are, how the prize is distributed, etc.

When is a lawyer needed in esports?

I'm going to go back to the Esport Summit again for a moment. During the event, I took a little poll on "Would you turn to a lawyer in esports?"

The overwhelming response was, "A lawyer is needed in every industry, isn't he?"

I wish the law were so clear that a lawyer would not be needed. Even if it were, I think a lawyer might be useful. The moment an esports team/organization wants to start growing, it's nice to get all the legal areas right in the long run.

I'd definitely start looking for a lawyer, when:

  • I am making an investment ↗ or preparing to make an investment.
  • I'm dealing with extensive partnerships with sponsors.
    • Anyone can probably find a contractual penalty in a contract, but a lawyer can find the hidden context and help negotiate better terms with the sponsor/partner.
  • I set up contracts with players, coaches and others ↗ in the team/organization.
    • He/she will help you choose the appropriate legal form, prepare contractual documentation and help with communication to players/persons.
  • I want to make my brand a proper "lovebrand" - a lawyer can help with intellectual property protection.
  • I have a dispute with a supplier or another person, and I am facing a more fundamental problem.
    • He or she knows the disputed agenda, knows how to negotiate, and can assess whether a dispute can be successful or not.

Which lawyer to choose?

There is no such thing as an "e-sport lawyer". Law in esports is just a collection of various legal disciplines that have been around for decades. They are just modified and adapted to esports.

Given the services an esports team member/organizer/other organization may require, I would recommend a technology-focused lawyer who has experience in areas such as startups or investments. 

So is a lawyer needed in esports?

I'll leave the answer to you. But i believe a layer is needed. But even a locksmith would fight for the need for quality door protection in newly built apartment buildings.


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