Sport is not all about winning gold medals although as the euphoria of the Commonwealth Games sweeps us along, it’s easy to forget that it’s also an important part of the economic framework of Scotland.
Brodies, one of Scotland’s largest law firms with more than 600 employees, is one of the organisations which is involved in the business of sport.
“We are very interested in all aspects of the law as it relates to sport,” says Bill Drummond, the firm’s managing partner.
Brodies’ legal services in the sporting arena stretch from the planning of sports facilities and organising events to supporting individual athletes with sponsorship and employment issues. “It’s like any specialist aspect of legal services, you concentrate on what the client needs – and what their objectives are.
“Then you create a framework where you can legally and commercially protect their interests and enable them to achieve their goals,” adds Drummond. This approach – developing advice drawn from relevant expertise from every part of the firm – has created a strong sport-related portfolio for Brodies.
Alongside this professional interest, Brodies has a strong ethos of supporting sport in its community initiatives. “We are firmly part of the community, whether that is the legal community, the business community and the places we have offices – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dingwall.
“So it is entirely natural that we go beyond the pure business aspects of Brodies’ operations and get involved in our communities,” says Drummond.
That community involvement ranges from its support of the PRIME initiative which encourages greater diversity in the legal profession, through to its own staff charity committee’s support for local causes including its official charity partner, Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres.
Drummond, who retires this month having been managing partner since 1998, points out that the firm has always had a sporty streak. “When I joined in 1980, there were office hockey and football teams – even a rugby team. Today many partners are involved in sport in their own communities.”
Support for Maggie’s has included some extreme feats, but as Drummond points out, it is not all marathons. “The Culture Crawl involved walking and culture – and fun too.
“You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate and we very firmly encourage our staff to participate in a wide range of activities.” Since 2006, Brodies has supported the Scottish Schools Swimming Association (SSSA), providing funding for the voluntary organisation to hold its team championships and the Scottish Schools Swimming Championships. “Swimming is such a great activity for youngsters,” says Drummond. “It allows you to develop discipline and learning how to swim competitively gives you a sense of achievement.
“These events bring many kids from right across the country together in a competitive swimming environment. They get a chance to swim as a team for their school.
“There’s a lot of drama and excitement and some absolutely terrific performances. What I’ve seen is that, even if you are at the top of your individual age grade in swimming, you are still keen to turn out and represent your school.”
Drummond adds that he was at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last week where he was thrilled to see some former Brodies’ SSSA champions in the heats on their way to winning medals. Brodies’ other headline sporting activity is the staging of the annual Tennis Invitational at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire.
This year Mark Philippoussis, Thomas Muster, Henri Leconte, Tim Henman and Colin Fleming will be the legends playing at the ATP Champions Tour event. “When you see these athletes who are truly global figures in their sport, you see what fantastic hand-eye co-ordination they have, their power and speed are tremendous and they can still make the ball fizz off the racquet,” says Drummond.
Some of Scotland’s most promising junior players will also be in action. “The crowds that come along are obviously great tennis fans and they really appreciate watching our top young Scottish players show what they can do.”
On the surface it is hardly a grass roots event like the swimming, yet the rational is still about community. Drummond explains: “Corporate support for events like this has not been as active as it was before the financial crisis.
“When we first decided to put it on, it was with that active purposeful thought that we wanted to bring our community together to try to reactivate a sense of ‘let’s get on with economic activity in Scotland; let’s look forward to the future rather than back on difficult times’.”
The Scottish business community is showing its support with Brewin Dolphin, Eastern BMW, the Gate and Pickering’s Gin signed up as sponsors this year. “So there’s some straightforward business networking but we are also putting on something that is making tennis more accessible in Scotland.
“It is not often you get a chance to watch world number ones or Grand Slam champions,” says Drummond, adding that the young players also get an opportunity to play in a professional set up and gain invaluable experience from that.
“Everybody wins,” he adds.
The Brodies Tennis Invitational at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire is on 22 and 23 June. For details and tickets visit brodiesinvitational.com