I set up Keating Chambers’ Netball Team with our head of marketing, Marie Sparkes, in 2015. We are moderately successful (we moved up a league last season), and try hard (winning the Roger Rutledge Memorial Cup for ‘high effort, enthusiasm and fair play’ this season). However, most of all we have a lot of fun.
The Keating team was formed after talking to a solicitor about the pressures of trying to keep fit and healthy whilst working long days and attending (often boozy) marketing events in the evenings. Combining marketing with sport seemed to be a time-saving solution, and provided strong motivation to leave our desks at a reasonable hour. We both agreed to field a team and arranged Keating’s first evening match. Many of our team hadn’t played for years but found it surprisingly easy to get back into. Keating lost, but we got to know junior solicitors in the law firm better.
Thanks to Marie’s tireless efforts, the team has survived. We arrange evening games with clients and play fortnightly in a lunchtime league in Lincoln’s Inn. Mostly the games are all female, mainly because that suits the teams we play, but we are in the process of arranging a mixed game. We have also arranged a couple of trips to the Copper Box to watch the England team with clients. Fuelled with enthusiasm, it is often whilst watching the England team that we arrange another evening match.
"Chambers is very supportive, partly because the netball team fits in with a wider wellbeing drive – which includes Pilates, massages and fruit boxes in the clerks room"
The England netball team’s gold medal win at the recent Commonwealth Games, and the media coverage this brought, has really helped to move netball out of the category of ‘a game you only play at school’ to a credible adult sport. Evening social leagues are becoming increasingly popular. We find that many of our instructing solicitors have a ready-made team and are keen to play.
The Keating team is comprised of barristers, clerks and our professional support team. So not only are the games a great opportunity to network with junior solicitors, they provide a chance to develop closer relationships within chambers. Whether we win or lose, we do so as a team, and playing together has formed a camaraderie that translates off the court. Winning the cup was also a great morale boost and demonstrated what we had all achieved in a short space of time.
It can be a struggle to put out a team, especially when professional commitments ramp up, but largely we have managed to make it work. As the matches are scheduled in advance it is usually possible to juggle other commitments. Chambers is very supportive, partly because the netball team fits in with a wider wellbeing drive (which includes Pilates, massages and fruit boxes in the clerks room). I try to make time for it: during a busy period a fortnightly lunchtime run around is better than no exercise at all; hopefully it brings some benefit to my practice; and I have really enjoyed getting to know solicitors, clerks and our professional support team better.
At the very least, we have been able to balance the Keating trophy cabinet with some female sports wins.
Jennie Wild is a barrister at Keating Chambers