Alumni in Focus: James Kitching

James Kitching

Head of Sports Legal Services, Disciplinary and Governance at the Asian Football Confederation Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Centre International d’Etude du Sport (CIES)
International Master (MAS) in Management, Law, and Humanities of Sport 2011 – 2012

University of Adelaide
Bachelor of Laws (LLB) 2003 – 2008
Bachelor of International Studies 2003 – 2006
Diploma of Language (Italian) 2004 – 2005

Why did you choose the University of Adelaide to study?

I always intended to stay in Adelaide for my undergraduate studies and the University of Adelaide was always my number one choice, as it provided me the opportunity to combine my two passions as well as continue my language studies. UoA had the reputation as the best law school in South Australia and I was very excited to receive an offer to attend.
The close proximity to the city, as well as the ability to ride to and from home along the river were also both big positives when making my choice.

What were the best parts of your degree at the University of Adelaide?

In relation to my LLB, there are really too many to mention. I was blessed to have been taught by a number of the leading practitioners and academic professionals in their fields.
My favourite subjects were always related to public law, which really pointed me in the direction that my future career has taken.

If I had to choose one part, it was the structure of my final year, whereby we were assigned to one class for the full year for a number of subjects, including Civil and Criminal Procedure and Advocacy, and the ongoing mock trial which spanned the course of the second semester. I remain very close with many of those classmates. We will never forget the trials and tribulations of Ms. Darlene Prescott, the unfortunate victim of a jetty jumping misadventure.

What have you been doing since graduation?

Upon graduation, I was very fortunate to work for DLA Phillips Fox in their Government and Administrative Law team whilst I was studying for my GDLP. Following admission, I worked in the Adelaide and Melbourne offices of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

However, during my studies I was always passionate about sports, having been Secretary of the Old Ignatians Soccer Club, and I set about to find a way to combine my academic qualifications, professional experience, and love of sport. I was very fortunate to be accepted into the FIFA Master, run by the Centre International d’Etude du Sport, in Switzerland, and spent 9 months overseas studying (for three months at a time) a ‘lite’ MA, MBA, and LLM. My final project related to international sports labour disputes and the burgeoning world of sports arbitration.

Since graduating, I am a member of the Legal team at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Among other duties, I act as Secretary to the AFC judicial bodies, and prosecute matters before the AFC Disciplinary Committee and AFC Appeal Committee. I have managed the sports legal function at a number of tournaments, including most recently, the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015. I also represent the AFC in matters before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and undertake other duties that are normally associated with in-house counsel of a major organisation. It is a challenging role and my training at the University of Adelaide has certainly helped in this regard – as the governing body (and most cases, the decision maker), I apply daily the principles that I learned in private international law as well as the various public law subjects.

Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities?

I didn’t have time to take part in any of the extra-curricular activities within the law school as I was so heavily involved with my role at the Old Ignatians Soccer Club, which was almost like a full-time job in itself. I must admit, it was nice to beat the Adelaide Uni team whenever we came up against each other in the South Australian Amateur Soccer League as a few of my law school buddies represented them!

I did represent the University in Ultimate Frisbee sporadically from 2005-2009, but not very successfully.

Do you have any advice to incoming students to gain the most from their time at university?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions (but do it after class).

Follow your passion. No one else should make your choices for you. Elective classes are there for you to explore your interests.
If you have an opportunity, study abroad. I didn’t get that opportunity at undergraduate level, but was very fortunate as a postgraduate to live and study in three different countries. It will give you a much broader perspective in life and you will develop a global network of friends and colleagues.

Any tips regarding finding work after graduation?

Network, network, network. LinkedIn is a great tool to informally contact leaders and decision makers in the field you want to work in.

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