Who? Carol Couse, sports law consultant at Mills & Reeve.
Why is she in the news? Advised former Newcastle United player Jonas Gutierrez in his disability discrimination claim against the club, which was based on the way he was treated after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Gutierrez filed his claim under the Equality Act 2010, alleging he had been dropped from the team because of his cancer diagnosis.
The employment tribunal ruled in his favour, finding that the Newcastle United board had influenced team selection to prevent him being able to trigger an appearance-based contract extension.
Thoughts on the case: ‘From an employment law perspective, this was a groundbreaking finding on the duty to make reasonable adjustments. This case is a good illustration of how wide-ranging this duty can be.
‘From a sports law perspective, it demonstrates that football clubs and other sporting entities are like any other employer and need to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act. There are likely to be wider repercussions for athletes who are considered to be “disabled” under the act as a result of a long-term illness or injury – and employers should be mindful of this.’
Dealing with the media: ‘The press interest in this case was intense, with live streaming of witness testimony and the case being featured in national newspapers – both during the hearing and after the judgment.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I liked the idea of solving problems but I was also drawn to foreign languages. I decided to study law and Spanish – and while I didn’t appreciate it at the time, this has helped me to develop a real niche.’
Career high: ‘This case has been professionally rewarding – helping a client in genuine need of legal redress for unfair treatment. I also advised the client in Spanish throughout, so this added an extra layer of complexity.’
Career low: ‘As a female sports lawyer working predominantly in football, I am a minority in what is a male-dominated industry, but thankfully this is slowly improving.’