Olympic Gold Medallist – Turns To Law – Georgie Twigg MBE – S3E1

To kickstart Season 3, our host Rob Hanna is joined by Georgie Twigg MBE. Georgie is an Associate in the sports team at the law firm Bird & Bird in London. Prior to this Georgie had a highly successful hockey sporting career playing as a midfielder for England and Great Britain from 2010 to 2016.

In that time, Georgie achieved so much including:

  • A Gold medal at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics,
  • A Gold at the 2015 European Championship
  • A Silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
  • A Silver medal with Great Britain at the 2012 Champions Trophy in Argentina
  • Bronze with England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, scoring the winning goal in the Bronze medal match
  • Bronze medal with England at the 2010 Argentina World Cup
  • Bronze medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympics

She was named England Hockey’s Young Performance Player of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013. She made her international debut at the 2010 Champions Trophy and was the youngest player in Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic squad!


Rob Hanna (00:00):

Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast powered by Kissoon Carr. I’m your host, Rob Hanna this week. I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Georgie Twigg MBE. Georgie is an associate in the sports team at the law firm Bird & Bird in London. Prior to this, Georgie had a highly successful hockey sporting career playing as a midfielder for England & Great Britain from 2010 to 2016. In that time, Georgie achieved so much including a gold medal at the Rio 2016 summer Olympics, a gold 2015 European championships, a silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games, silver with Great Britain at the 2012 champions trophy in Argentina, bronze with England and the 2010 Commonwealth games in Delhi scoring the winning goal in the bronze medal match, bronze medal with England in 2010 Argentina world cup, bronze medal at 2012 summer Olympics. And she was also named England’s hockey young performance player in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, a major international debut in 2010 champions trophy with the youngest player in GB 2012 Olympic squad. So that is a hell of an introduction. So very big welcome Georgie.

Georgie Twigg (01:16):

Hi there. Wow. How do I follow that!

Rob Hanna (01:19):

Just suck it all up, take it all in. I bet that felt very, very good listening to all of your achievements today. But before we go through all of your amazing sporting achievements and what you’re achieving in the legal world nowadays, we must start with our customer open question on the Legally Speaking Podcast, which is on the scale of one to 10, 10 being very real. How real would you rate the hit series Suits in terms of its reality on the scale of 1 to 10?

Georgie Twigg (01:48):

I’d probably say about four in terms of my experience. So fairly, fairly low.

Rob Hanna (01:55):

Yeah. I think a lot of people that are practicing the law say, look, this is Hollywood, but it’s rarely getting above five these days. So I think four is a fair score. So look, you have achieved so, so much throughout your career, but let’s start at the beginning. Tell us a bit about your family background and upbringing first.

Georgie Twigg (02:13):

Yeah, I mean, I was very lucky and have a really supportive family and a very sporty family. So you know, it was kind of every single day after school doing some different kind of sporting activity and parents acting as a taxi service. So I grew up in Lincolnshire. And yeah, as I said, I kind of played a whole variety of sports, so it wasn’t, it wasn’t hockey in particular at first I just loved being active and I’m a very competitive person, so, and I loved school and particularly team sports. So yeah, that’s kind of, kind of where it all started.

Rob Hanna (02:45):

Okay. And just talk us through a bit of your sporting career before moving into into the law. Did you always want to be a hockey athlete? You mentioned that you did lots of different sports.

Georgie Twigg (02:55):

I went off to Repton school and at 13 and I started to get really into hockey then, and we had an ex GB player as our coach and that’s kind of where my, my focus turned towards hockey and I had to stop playing netball because I was, I played club at the weekends which was in the term when you normally play netball. And then, yeah, it kind of escalated from there. I got into the England under sixteens and then kind of progressed through the age groups at the, at the junior international level. And I think, you know, there’s always that pipe dream of going to an Olympic games, but, but it always feels very, very far off. And if I’m honest, I, I think I probably never thought I was quite good enough to make it, so it didn’t really start to become, become a real, real, you know, target until I kind of trialed with the seniors in 2010. And that’s when I sort of started to realize that, Oh, actually, maybe this, this could happen.

Rob Hanna (03:48):

Yeah, no, I know you’re just being modest there that you thought it would never happen. You said you thought you were never good enough. I mean, what kind of made you have those doubts?

Georgie Twigg (03:56):

Well, it really was true. I think I’m not particularly fast and the game, I mean the game has got faster and faster, so I think I always worried that that that would hold me back. But thankfully I kind of managed to sort of get myself well placed in the, in the midfield and kind of use my skills in a different way. Rather than relying on pure raw speed, which obviously a lot of our forwards do, but yeah, no. So I, I really honestly didn’t think that I really, really could go all the way. And it kind of wasn’t until I was in the senior squad training towards 2012 that I thought, Oh, actually, you know, I could do this.

Rob Hanna (04:38):

Yeah. Tell us about then some of your highlights from playing in an Olympic games and world cups. I mean, they’re fantastic achievements. So tell us about some of your highlights from the Olympic games.

Georgie Twigg (04:48):

I mean, obviously Rio was, was unbelievable in terms of winning the gold medal, but I must say that London 2012 was just the most incredible experience. You know, for me, it was obviously my first Olympic games, but competing on a home stadium in front of a packed crowd full of British fans was just something that I will never ever forget. I mean, I still get goosebumps now thinking about stepping out on that pitch for the first game. And I remember my heart was pounding so hard but it was just, it was unbelievable. And obviously you need to come away with a medal and stand on a podium in your own country was, was just incredible. But you know, for me generally, when, when I was an athlete, I loved the tournament, as I said, I’m competitive. So the training was okay. It wasn’t, it was a bit of a grind at times.

Georgie Twigg (05:39):

And, you know, we got worked very, very hard by coaches, but the reason I did all that was because I just loved the buzz and thrill of playing and high level matches and tournament and that sort of competitive edge that comes with with being part of a team and in a tournament and particularly playing in countries like Holland and Argentina was amazing because they have such a big hockey following so that the world cup in 2010 in Argentina, I remember we played Argentina in one of the Greek games and I kid you not, the, the stands were shaking because the fans were jumping up and down and way more outgoing than the British fans can be sometimes. But it was amazing just to be, to be a part of that and that atmosphere.

Rob Hanna (06:25):

Wow. Yeah, it must have been absolutely incredible. And I love the fact that you kind of relate back to the to the London as well. Cause I was actually got tickets to see quite a lot of the games and unfortunately I didnt get to see you guys, but I just loved every minute of those games on home turf. So it must have been amazing, just kind of lifting a medal and getting up on the podium for that. And how does it feel to have MBE next to your name?

Georgie Twigg (06:47):

It’s a bit surreal to be honest and you know, I don’t use it all, obviously all the, all the time. But I mean, it was a really, really special moment. And I think particularly for me, it was because we were able to take our family and, you know, a lot of the celebrations after Rio was with the team and in London, you know, attending various events, but going to Buckingham palace and being able to take my parents with me who had been through that whole journey, you know, the ups and downs of being an athlete and selections and injuries. And they were out in Rio for the whole two weeks as well. So, you know, for them to come and be part of that and, you know, come into the Palacewas amazing. And the, and that’s what made it really, really special.

Rob Hanna (07:29):

That’s brilliant. Did the queen give you your medal?

Georgie Twigg (07:31):

Prince William. And it was nice actually because Prince William and Kate had been to a training session of ours in 2012 and because the Duchess of Cambridge, she used to play hockey at school. So she’s quite a fan of hockey. And so it was really nice that he gave it to me and he even sort of said a few words about watching the game and stuff. So that was really nice.

Rob Hanna (07:52):

Yeah. And just on then as a sort of athlete commission member for the the British Olympic association, tell us more about that sort of responsibility and what it sort of involves?

Georgie Twigg (08:03):

Yeah, I think it’s really important nowadays that sort of governing bodies, sporting organizations and federations are connected with our athletes and, you know, athletes, voices are heard. And I think previously there’s been that gap there I’ve really enjoyed being part of the BOA’s athlete commission group. You know, we meet quarterly and resorts of actors that go between, between the BOA and the athletes. And obviously it’s a challenge sometimes trying to reflect all athletes opinions, but, you know, it’s been a really, really interesting role and, and something that I’ve really enjoyed and hoped to continue and hope we can still, you know, make, make an impact with it.

Rob Hanna (08:40):

Yeah, no, absolutely. And we could talk for sport, but ours, but we must transition over to your sort of more day to day now. So let’s start at the beginning of that. What sparked your interest in wanting to transition into the law, following your sporting career?

Georgie Twigg (08:56):

Well, it’s a bit corny. My first sort of interest in law came at school when I was studying Cicero in my Latin class and it just sort of peaked real interest. So from there, I kind of sought out doing work experience, speaking to solicitors and barristers. And that’s when I kind of decided that I wanted to study law. So I went off to Bristol university studying law there, and yeah, and that’s kind of when it, whilst I was there, I applied for training contracts and was lucky enough to get one words with Bird & Bird But obviously as, as you may know, it’s that, can I have it, I, at that point, whilst I was at university, I got asked to go and train with it with the GB team that were training full time towards 2012. And then I had two years left of my law degree one year left, sorry of my law degree. So obviously this is quite a difficult dilemma because the girls are training full time Bisham Abbey. And I wanted to finish my law degree cause I knew that it was important. You know, hockey was never going to last forever. And obviously setting myself up through afterwards was very important to me. So Bristol University were absolutely fantastic. They allowed me to split my final year over two years, recording all of my lectures and tutorials and seminars, which I know now is a given during the current crisis. But back then just wasn’t done. So, yeah, so I’d be at Bisham training Monday to Thursday and would just go back to university on a Friday and just do everything else remotely. So I was very lucky that I was able to then complete my degree in 2012. And throughout that, obviously I had to keep Bird & Bird informed.

Georgie Twigg (10:32):

I then did my LPC after university for a year. And then I decided that actually I wanted to pursue going on to Rio. So I went in and speak to Bird & Bird and they were fantastic. They were very happy for me to defer my start date for my training contract. And so they allowed me to defer it until September, 2016 which was just amazing because it took the pressure off whilst I was training full time, without worrying what I was going to do after, which I know is that obviously a very difficult thing for athletes when they transition out of a full time sporting career. So I was very lucky that the university and Bird & Bird was so supportive of that.

Rob Hanna (11:13):

Yeah. No, and that’s great. And it’s amazing how you managed to manage it all, but was it hard? I mean, it all sounds like it, you know, that sounds great, but I can imagine it was pretty difficult along the way, trying to kind of engineer all of those moves?

Georgie Twigg (11:24):

Yeah. I mean, it wasn’t easy to, so at times, but I think for me it was that the hockey gave me a structure. So I kind of knew when I needed to work and when I needed to revise and, and I couldn’t afford to kind of dawdle and waste time and I probably ended up getting things done in advance rather than waiting until the last minute, just because I couldn’t because of hockey. And so I think the two did help one another and I think also the hockey can be very intense and know with, with selection and training and tournaments can be so intense. So actually having that escape out of it with, with going back to Bristol and studying that kind of gave me a balance between the two, but yeah, so I’m not going to lie. I remember revising my last exam two weeks before Olympic selection and that was certainly difficult to concentrate.

Rob Hanna (12:15):

Yeah, I can imagine just a bit. So, you know, and then fast forward you did get onto the training contract with Bird & Bird and as a trainee you completed a secondment with the FA within their legal and governance team. Do you want to tell us a bit more about that experience?

Georgie Twigg (12:27):

Yeah, no, it’s, it’s a great experience. You know, we’re very lucky that we had the opportunity to do my sports seat with three months at the FA and three months within sports team at Bird & Bird . And you know, it’s just, it’s really interesting to go and see it from the client’s side. And, and obviously with my love for sports. It was great being involved in the FA, seeing how everything is run. The legal team is, is huge and there’s various different sections for, you know, on field disputes and safeguarding. So it was great to get involved in all various different aspects of the organization. And then also learn, you know, from a, from a client’s point of view, what they are wanting from, from their legal counsel.

Rob Hanna (13:12):

Yeah. No, absolutely. And you mentioned you, you obviously managed to get a training contract with, with burden. Why obviously bad about it? Very well known in the sports law world generally, but yeah. Why, why did you personally choose Bird & Bird? Were you considering other firms as well?

Georgie Twigg (13:26):

Obviously, as you said, the, the sports law reputation drew me there initially. So obviously it was natural that I kind of looked into them when I was at university, but the main thing really is the culture that the firm has and it’s something I still am still very lucky to, to be at a firm that has such a fantastic culture. And, you know, they, they really do care about your life and what’s going on outside of work. And I think that’s visible to people outside of the firm. And it certainly was to me when, when I was applying. So yeah, so it was certainly my first choice and I was very lucky that I managed to get in.

Rob Hanna (14:00):

Yeah. Well congratulations once again. And so tell us more than about, you know, Georgie day to day now. So what, tell us more about your day to day practice as a sports lawyer.

Georgie Twigg (14:10):

So our sports law team at Bird & Bird is split into two. So we have the commercial side and the regulatory side and I sit on the commercial side. And so, you know, we kind of work across a broad range of things, but for example, sponsorship agreements, broadcast contracts and media rights, and yeah. You know, we, we’re very lucky. We’ve got some amazing clients. We tend to work more on the governing bodies, clubs, federations side, rather than the actual individual athletes. And yeah, it’s been, it’s been fascinating to get involved in work with such interesting clients and yeah, no, I’m very lucky to be part of such a great team.

Rob Hanna (14:52):

And sports law probably sounds very exciting to many of our listeners listening in and, and rightly so, but what do you most enjoy about your sports law practice?

Georgie Twigg (15:01):

I think for me, it’s, it’s the clients and the subject matter of what you’re doing. So, you know, as someone who is passionate about sport and obviously have had the background with it, it’s being able to relate to your clients and understand the, kind of the problems that they’re experiencing. And that’s, what’s been really interesting for me. And, and sort of seeing it, seeing it from an, from an athlete’s perspective, but also because of, because I have got a genuine interest in, in what they’re doing. And that’s what I would say to anyone in law, you know, when you’re trainee and you’re deciding what area of law you want to go into, it makes life so much easier and makes your day job much more enjoyable if you are genuinely interested in what you’re working on and the clients that you’re working with.

Rob Hanna (15:47):

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think because you are invested and there’s a lot of hard work and a lot of hours that go into it. I think that’s a really good tip, for lawyers thinking about sort of getting into areas that they probably should be passionate about. Do you think coming from your sporting background, has helped you in your legal career and if so why?

Georgie Twigg (16:05):

That’s a tricky one. I think, you know, obviously my sporting background helps in terms of my interest and knowledge in the sporting world. I think it potentially assists in terms of the relationship with clients and building relationships with clients when you’ve kind of got experience, first-hand experience. But I think, you know, I’m, I’m not naive to the fact that that’s probably as far as it goes and, you know, I’m still learning as a lawyer. And I know that there’s a huge amount that probably has no impact on the fact, you know, I’ve got a sporting background. But I think it certainly helps in terms of the industry that I’m working in.

Rob Hanna (16:42):

Yeah, no, fair enough. And that’s, that’s good for you to be quite open and transparent around that and you you’ve obviously achieved the highest pinnacle in sports and perhaps nothing does quite compare to winning a gold medal, but what would you say has been your greatest legal achievement or experience today that you look back on very proudly?

Georgie Twigg (16:59):

Oh gosh. Well, I mean, to be fair, I think, I think probably completing my training contract and securing sport and sports team. So I think knowing and getting offered that job in the sports team was definitely the highlight so far.

Rob Hanna (17:15):

Yeah. I understand you do still play hockey. So where do you tend to play nowadays and what does that look like?

Georgie Twigg (17:21):

Yes, I still play and at my club at Surbiton hockey club, so I’m very lucky that I’m still still able to do that quite often, late for training midweek, I’m running out of the office. And, but I think it’s been, it’s been really important to me still being able to do that. And obviously we have matches at the weekends and it gives me a, you know, as I said before, like a nice balance between work and still being able to play and I still get to play with some of the girls that are in the current squad. So yeah, I don’t think I’ve lost it just yet.

Rob Hanna (17:50):

Good stuff. Good stuff. Never lose it. Talent, never fades.

Georgie Twigg (17:54):

Let’s hope so!

Rob Hanna (17:54):

So what advice would you give to maybe aspirational lawyers given your unique journey into the law?

Georgie Twigg (18:02):

I think, you know, as I said earlier, sort of pursuing what you’re interested in, because as you said, you know, your, your work and particularly being a lawyer can end up taking up so much of your time. And if you’re not genuinely interested and passionate in what you’re doing, then you’re not going to be as invested in it and want to work as hard for the clients. So definitely for me, it would be pursuing something that you’re genuinely interested in.

Rob Hanna (18:31):

And in terms of away from hockey and away from the law, what do you tend to do for downtime? You mentioned obviously Bird & Bird has got a great culture, but yeah. What do you tend to get up to for, for downtime?

Georgie Twigg (18:41):

You know, as, as probably a lot of people it’s seeing friends, seeing family, being active, I like reading. So yeah, so nothing, nothing majorly different. Also I love, I love cooking. So it’s been nice, particularly having a bit more time during, during lockdown to, to, to do a bit more cooking. Cause obviously normally midweek it’s quite difficult to do that. So normal things as, as most people like to do.

Rob Hanna (19:11):

And in terms of your career, as I mentioned, you hit the pinnacle of gold medals in the hockey world, the legal, do you see yourself wishing to be a partner one day in a law firm? Or what, what are you sort of striving for with, from your legal side of things?

Georgie Twigg (19:26):

You know, I think it’s quite hard to tell at the moment. I think I still feel very much in the early stages of my career. So for me right now, in terms of sort of setting goals, it’s, it’s just sort of keep developing my legal knowledge sort of climbing up the ladder and hopefully, you know, keep improving. And I think probably I haven’t really set that long term goal just, just yet, just because I kind of feel like I’m still in the early stages of my career.

Rob Hanna (19:57):

Yeah, no, absolutely. Well, from our side, Georgie, we really enjoyed having you on, I think sort of talking through your journey and what you’ve achieved from a sporting and now transitioning into the, into legal sector and doing so much, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Congratulations on all of your sort of successes to date. We wish you lots of continued success in your legal career and we’ll happy to no doubt. See you feature again on the podcast in the near future, but from our side, thank you very much.

Georgie Twigg (20:25):

Oh, thank you. Thank you. And thank you for having me. It’s been great.

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