Working Title The Lawyer and the Sports Agent
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Working Title The Lawyer and the Sports Agent

Anuj Agrawal

Tarun Mehrishi graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore in 2006. After working in Trilegal and Luthra & Luthra, Tarun moved to Infinity Optimal Solutions Pvt Ltd, a company “dedicated towards building and managing world class talent, infrastructure and content”. Tarun spoke to Bar & Bench‘s Anuj Agrawal on the what it takes to market non-cricketing athletes, what a typical workday is like and whether he is the Indian Jerry Maguire.

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Tarun Mehrishi graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore in 2006. After working in Trilegal and Luthra & Luthra, Tarun moved to Infinity Optimal Solutions Pvt Ltd, a company “dedicated towards building and managing world class talent, infrastructure and content”. Tarun spoke to Bar & Bench’s Anuj Agrawal on the what it takes to market non-cricketing athletes, what a typical workday is like and whether he is the Indian Jerry Maguire.

Bar & Bench: So how big do you think the Olympics are going to be for you this year?

Tarun Mehrishi: We are placing a lot of hope on the Olympics and in the performances of the athletes that are represented by us. We do expect that India will win at least 6 and maybe 8 medals this year and hope that a majority of those will come through IOS represented athletes.

B&B: Wait, let’s go back a bit. So you graduated from NLSIU in 2006 and then?

TM: After working what, by my standards, very hard for a year at Trilegal in Mumbai and then 3 years at Luthra & Luthra in Delhi, I decided that enough was enough and put in my papers. Of course, the process of finding another job, one that I thought I would enjoy had started a few months before I put in my papers and I quit only once I had another job in hand.

B&B: What made you give up the law firm lifestyle? Was there a single event that made you realise that you needed to do something else?

TM: Both Trilegal and Luthra are wonderful places to work, with mostly decent bosses and outstanding colleagues. Some of my closest friends today (and I expect they will be that for life) became that because of the amount of interaction we engaged in courtesy these firms. As far as I can see, it is never one event that kills you at a law firm – it is more of a slow erosion of your belief in what you are doing on a day to day basis and then there comes a point when it all boils over.

B&B: And how did you land up at IOS? What was the reaction of your friends and family?

TM: My current boss met a couple of common friends at a party who knew that I was looking to exit into a job relating to sports. They put me in touch with him and after we were finally able to meet, the decision to move was made. The negotiation of my salary (a fraction of what Luthra was paying me I may add) and role took a little longer but that was more procedure than principle. Reactions varied as expected from ‘are you crazy’ to ‘that sounds perfect or fun’ and there was enough debate at home about it. My parents have, for the most part, been very supportive of this effort and I doubt I would have moved if they hadn’t seen the merit of what I was saying.

B&B: What is a typical day at work like?

TM: There is no typical day at work and I could be doing several of a score of things on any given day. My work could be drafting a contract or negotiating it, making cold calls, meeting existing or potential clients, spending time with an athlete, creating a business plan or budget, managing the IOS website and social media presence, taking recruitment interviews, following up for our dues, team bonding or strategy sessions or even playing some indoor cricket in office. Most days will have a large mixture of a lot of this, which is what makes me happy here.

B&B: Wait so are you the Indian version of Jerry Maguire?

TM: Only in a very minute way and I am much more the back end support team for the “Jerry” that is my boss and another colleague in office. But yes, that is a major part of what we do at our jobs.

B&B: It must be hard to market non-cricketing sportspersons. Does it even happen in this country?

TM: It is incredibly hard and so many brand managers are unwilling to look beyond the safety and ‘sanity’ of cricket. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that there will be less than a 100 people who can recollect the name of sponsor on the left chest of an IPL team or the back of the helmet, even though they have paid crore of rupees for that exposure. On the contrary, the exposure that some brands get because of their association with non-cricket sportspersons id huge and fortunately there are some brands and decision makers that are beginning to see this. So yes, it does happen and it is something that will keep increasing as we go forward.

B&B: So who are some of your clients right now?

TM: Given the number of people we represent, the client list is fairly large. The list is available on our website and can also be accessed through our Facebook page under the name of IOS Sports and Entertainment for those that want to read a little more about India’s other sports!

B&B: Do you have to deal with athletes with unreal expectations?

TM: Well, sometimes yes. Generally, they are decent people who have realistic expectations but then there are some who either come with unrealistic expectations that do not reflect their achievements or to whose head stardom goes to very quickly. It is this small group that can be difficult to deal with.

B&B: Best thing about the job?

TM: Variety and passion.

B&B: Worst thing about the job?

TM: Dealing with stupid people in decision making roles and frustrations at lack of sales sometimes.

B&B: What do you miss most about the law firm life?

TM: If at all there would be anything, it would be that much money. That’s it.

B&B: Any advice for law grads who are considering doing something different?

TM: Go for it. If you think that is going to make you happy, you must do it as soon as you can. The later you leave it in life, the more difficult it will be and the worse you will feel about yourself. Follow your heart and you can’t go wrong.

Tarun graduated from the National Law School, Bangalore in 2006. He worked with Trilegal in Mumbai for a year and then with Luthra & Luthra in Delhi for a further three years before finally deciding to pursue his passion for sport. He now works for one of the country’s best sports management companies, where law is only a small fraction of what he does.

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