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London: Corporate and commercial

M&A: smaller deals, up to Β£50m
M&A: smaller deals, up to Β£50m - ranked: tier 3

Lee & Thompson LLP

The creative industries, especially TV, film and music, are the core sector strength of Lee & Thompson LLP’s β€˜very responsive, knowledgeable’ private M&A-focused department. β€˜Experienced’ group head Malcolm Murray, who provides β€˜robust, considered advice’ and is β€˜a pleasure to deal with’, advised BMG Rights Management on its purchase of RAM Records and of Pete Waterman’s publishing and recording catalogue. Oliver Shipton assisted Sony Music with its acquisition of Essential Music & Marketing. On the film and TV side, Murray advised Lionsgate UK on its purchase of a 51% stake in Primal Media, and of a 25% stake in Potboiler Television. Other clients include SunnyMarch TV, Premiership Rugby, Legend Exhibitions and Iconic Images.

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London: Risk advisory

Reputation management
Reputation management - ranked: tier 2

Lee & Thompson LLP

Lee & Thompson LLP’s team is β€˜approaching the top bracket in the industry for its reputation management work’ and has β€˜a strong understanding of the market and the issues clients face’. The firm’s media and entertainment client roster includes Harry Styles and Jude Law; practice head Mike Brookes is advising the latter on several privacy and defamation issues against Associated Newspapers and various US publishers pertaining stories surrounding him and his children. Other highlights include advising Lara Stone on harassment and reputation issues surrounding her divorce from David Walliams, and assisting various clients including Universal Pictures, Studio Canal and Working Title Films with pre-publication defamation and privacy issues. The team is also highly involved in the phone-hacking litigation against News Group Newspapers acting for an expansive list of high-profile individuals including Christopher Eccleston, Sophie Anderton and Wayne Bridge. Mark Stafford is recommended for pre-broadcast copyright and libel clearance work and senior associate Leo Dawkins is β€˜a rising star’.

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London: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Brand management
Brand management - ranked: tier 4

Lee & Thompson LLP

Lee & Thompson LLP has β€˜a thorough understanding of the issues surrounding brand protection, not only on the protection side, but also on the policing and enforcement side’. The team has β€˜broad yet in-depth knowledge and experience of all aspects of brand management, providing clear, accurate and client-specific advice’. Gordon Williams is recommended, as is Mark Stafford; both are β€˜very capable lawyers, providing no-nonsense and high-quality advice that is straightforward, accurate and easy to understand’. Dominic Bray, who focuses on advertising and marketing matters, is also recommended. In 2016, the team assisted marketing agency group Engine Group with major campaigns clearance issues, and advised on a number of endorsement and sponsorship mandates. Julian Ward joined from Hamlins LLP in May 2017.

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Media and entertainment (including media finance)
Media and entertainment (including media finance) - ranked: tier 1

Lee & Thompson LLP

Lee & Thompson LLP β€˜combines a high degree of industry-specific knowledge and legal expertise with a very practical, commercial and strategic approach to problem solving’. Its expertise spans music, film, television, marketing, advertising, digital media, theatre and book publishing. It advises the BPI on a range of digital privacy matters against internet service providers (ISPs). It also advises Cornerstone Films on film acquisitions as well as distribution deals, and acts for Coutts on film and TV financing arrangements. Sony ATV, Channelflip, The Fyzz Facility, Engine Group, Queen, Harry Styles and Little Mix are also clients. Key figures on the music front include group head Lawrence Engel, who is β€˜exceptional’, and Kieran Jay, who acts for music artists. Head of dispute resolution Andrew Forbes delivers β€˜robust straightforward legal advice’; contentious music specialists Dominic Free and Gordon Williams are also noted. Mike Brookes β€˜leaves his ego at the door and gets the result the client wants’; he heads the reputation protection group. Also recommended are music and entertainment litigator Martyn Bailey, who is β€˜first-rate’; Will Everitt, who is active on theatre and music matters and β€˜is incredibly thorough in his thinking around a subject’; Mark Ashelford, who heads the digital media practice; Dominic Bray, who has β€˜great advertising industry knowledge’; Richard Lever, who heads the TV group; and film head Christos Michaels, who is β€˜superb’. Managing partner Reno Antoniades is also noted for film work, while Sam Tatton-Brown handles media finance and the β€˜practical, straightforward and solution-oriented’ Nicki Parfitt specialises in film and TV sales and distribution work. Lee Stone, Malcolm Murray, Jeremy Gawade, Mark Stafford and Andrew Thompson are also singled out, as are senior associates Simon Goodbody and Tim Fowler.

Leading individuals: Media and entertainment

Andrew Forbes - Lee & Thompson LLP (Music)

Dominic Free - Lee & Thompson LLP (Music)

Lawrence Engel - Lee & Thompson LLP (Music)

Reno Antoniades - Lee & Thompson LLP (Film and TV)

Leading individuals: Media finance

Sam Tatton-Brown - Lee & Thompson LLP

Next generation lawyers

Simon Goodbody - Lee & Thompson LLP (Music)

Tim Fowler - Lee & Thompson LLP (Music)

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