Sport in United States
Boasting 'invaluable knowledge and experience' Proskauer Rose LLP's practice 'carries respect in the sports industry'. The New York-based group is jointly led by highly-regarded corporate partner Joseph Leccese, litigator Bradley Ruskin and labor law expert Howard Ganz. It is assisting the New York Islanders with its relocation from Brooklyn to Belmont Park in Elmont, and in another work highlight Leccese and Frank Saviano acted for the Carolina Panthers on the $2.27bn sale of the franchise to David Tepper. A team led by Bart Williams and Scott Cooper, both based in Los Angeles, is representing college athletic conference defendants (which includes the Pac 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and ACC) in multi-district antitrust litigation challenging the legality of NCAA amateurism rules in collegiate football and men’s and women’s basketball. Jon H Oram is leading advice to the Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee on preparations to host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in addition to heading a team that is assisting FC Barcelona with the proposed sale of the naming rights to the Camp Nou stadium. The practice also counts the big four leagues among its clients; it is acting for the National Football League (NFL) in gender discrimination harassment and minimum wage litigation.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP fields a multidisciplinary team that advises on a broad range of matters for its sports sector clients. Litigators Andrew Tulumello and Maurice Suh, who are based in New York and Los Angeles respectively, head the practice alongside New York-based corporate partner Richard Birns. A team led by Theodore B. Olson and Matthew McGill (both in Washington DC) represented the State of New Jersey in the high-profile case of Murphy v. NCAA in which the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, legalizing sports betting. The practice leverages the firm's strong real estate capabilities in matters including acting for New York Arena Partners in its successful bid for the new $1bn Belmont Park development. The group's transactional experience also includes assisting MGM Resorts International with its 50/50 joint venture with GVC Holding Plc and Birns' advice to The Stars Group in its partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA). Other names to note include San Francisco-based Mary G. Murphy for real estate transactions and land use issues. The NFL Players Association, Topgolf International and basketball franchises Golden State Warriors and Oakland Athletics are all clients.
Latham & Watkins LLP's entertainment, sports and media practice is noted particularly for its transactional experience, and counts the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Tencent Holdings and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) among its clients. Joseph A. Calabrese is acting for the International Olympic Committee, alongside Brussels-based Marc Hansen, in connection with preparations for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, including advising on matters ranging from host city contractual relationships and commercial matters to digital rights, real estate, sponsorships, and governmental relations. Calabrese jointly heads the practice alongside Adam J. Sullins who leads advice to Facebook on its acquisition of sports distribution rights, including its $600m bid for Indian Premier League cricket rights in India and its acquisition of media rights for the 2018-2021 UEFA Champions League soccer competitions in Latin America. In another impressive work highlight New York-based counsel Michael Kuh, Paul Tosetti and Russell Sauer, Jr. (who is a key name for litigation) acted for the United Bid Committee of Canada, Mexico and United States in its successful bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Another key name to note is associate Kendall Johnson, who has experience across a range of transactions. Christopher Brearton’s departed to an in-house role at MGM, and corporate lawyer Justin Hamill arrived in the New York office from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
The 'phenomenal law firm' Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, which 'has been on the cutting edge of legal issues impacting the sports industry', is highlighted in particular 'for its excellence in the investigations and litigation areas'. Clients recall being 'impressed by the caliber of the lawyers, work product, and client service'. The group attracts praise for its 'vast experience in handling concussion matters'; it represented Arizona Cardinals Football Club in a case brought by former players alleging the concealment of the harmful effects of concussions and is advising the NFL on the implementation of the 65-year settlement for concussion litigation. It is also currently defending the league in opt-out litigation brought by approximately 75 former players. Key names to note include Brad Karp, who 'provides excellent perspective and ideas on strategic matters'; 'superb lawyer' Christopher H. Boehning, who has 'an impressive understanding of all of the legal issues as well as deep knowledge of the soccer world' and litigator Lynn B. Bayard. Transactional lawyer Justin Hamill joined Latham & Watkins LLP.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
With impressive transactional and litigation capabilities, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is noted for its experience acting for its impressive client roster in high profile litigation. It represented the National Hockey League (NHL) in successfully securing the denial of class-action status for a concussion lawsuit brought by former NHL players, and acted for the league in trademarks litigation relating to the Stanley Cup trophy. In another work highlight, the team successfully defended the PGA TOUR in a putative class action which alleged that the requirement for caddies to wear bibs that bear the logos of tournament sponsors violated their right of publicity, the Lanham Act and antitrust laws. In an example of the group's transactional capabilities, it advised Wes Edens, founder of Fortress Investment Group and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, in his joint investment with Nassef Sawiris in Aston Villa Football Club. Karen Lent is experienced in antitrust and other complex sports litigation. Intellectual property litigator Anthony Dreyer, of counsel Jeffrey Mishkin and competition partner Matthew Martino are other key names to note. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York.
Arent Fox LLP
The sports law practice at Arent Fox LLP has the capabilities to advise on issues including arena and stadium leases, licenses and construction, naming rights and other sponsorship transactions, franchise sales and acquisitions, media rights and intellectual property matters. It recently assisted Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment with the recent relocation of the New York Islanders to the Nassau Coliseum. San Fransicso-based Richard Brand is the attorney to note for naming rights; he recently acted for Fox Sports, as agent for the University of Southern California (USC), in connection with all aspects of USC’s $69m naming rights agreement for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Counsel Maidie Oliveau in Los Angeles continues to lead advice to the Sugar Bowl and recently drafted and negotiated agreements for a confidential proposed neutral site game to be televised by ESPN. Additions to the New York-based team include Jennifer O’Sullivan, who joined from Hand Baldachin & Associates LLP and has particular experience in the eSports space; litigator Glenn Colton, previously at Dentons, and compliance expert and former US Attorney Robert Capers from the Eastern District of New York.
Loeb & Loeb LLP's sports group attracts praise for its 'honesty, flexibility' and 'ability to laser focus on the key issues and provide practical advice'. The team has particular expertise advising on eSports matters, such as assisting NFL athlete Reggie Bush with corporate, technology, labor, regulatory and IP aspects relating to the establishment of an eSports technology platform. Los Angeles-based Arash Khalili and Brian Socolow in New York jointly head the practice which also includes Douglas Masters in Chicago, who acted for the National Collegiate Athletic Association in trademark litigation against online gaming company Kizzang. The group was strengthened with the arrival of advertising and marketing partner Brian Heidelberger in the Chicago office from Winston & Strawn LLP; he acts for NBA player Dwyane Wade in connection with all business and sponsorship deals and intellectual property matters.
The 'business-oriented' New York-based sports group at O'Melveny & Myers LLP boasts 'very impressive knowledge of the sports market in the US' and attracts praise for its 'availability and value for money'. With 'deep knowledge of the sports sector' Irwin Raij, who has 'high technical skills in legal aspects and also advises on business and commercial issues', assisted Spanish soccer team LaLiga with its 15-year equal cross-border joint venture with Relevent Sports. In another work highlight Raij and Chuck Baker advised David Tepper on his $2.275m acquisition of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The team also has particular capabilities in eSports; it recently acted for ReKTGlobal in its acquisition of Rogue Sports and Washington Convention and Sports Authority in connection with the negotiation of a tournament hosting and sponsorship agreement with Redbull Conquest and in connection with an integrated sponsorship transaction with eSports team NRG. The practice is jointly led by Raij, Baker and Jared Bartie, who utilises his 'thorough understanding of many facets of the sports and entertainment industry' in delivering 'well-reasoned advice and wise counsel'.
Winston & Strawn LLP
With 'a reputation for excellence, founded upon past-practice success, global experience in sport and antitrust law, and the intellectual ability and professional fortitude to advocate the novel', the sports practice at Winston & Strawn LLP 'dominates this sector with first-impression litigation and success therein'. The group is particularly experienced in talent and player representation and achieved a favorable partial summary judgment for college football and basketball player clients in antitrust litigation challenging the National College Athletic Association’s restraints on compensation of collegiate athletes. Other recent work highlights include representing the National Football League Players Association and Dallas Cowboys star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, in arbitration and court proceedings challenging Elliot's six-game suspension, and acting for members of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team in litigation for equal pay, accusing United States Soccer Federation of wage discrimination on the basis of gender. The team is also assisting Activision Blizzard with a range of issues relating to its eSports league, including league structure and expansion, competition and antitrust issues as well as player compensation and discipline. Jeffrey Kessler, David Feher and David Greenspan jointly head the practice which includes recently promoted partner Jonathan Amoona, corporate partner Alan Hoffman - a name to note for stadium financing matters -, and associate Adam Dale. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York.
The multidisciplinary sports practice at Arnold & Porter is co-headed by Robert Garrett and antitrust partner Scott Lent, who are based in Washington DC and New York respectively. Garrett is advising Major League Baseball (MLB) in copyright and telecommunications issues, including those relating to the telecasting of MLB games over traditional and new media. The team has also recently handled several matters relating to ticketing policies. San Fransisco-based David Reis and John Geelan in New York are key names to note for employment law matters; in a recent work highlight Reis represented Oakland Raiders in litigation relating to the low payment of cheerleaders, including in an antitrust class action against the NFL and various teams alleging a conspiracy to keep cheerleader pay artificially low.
Baker & Hostetler LLP
Gregory Lee in Orlando and Columbus-based Jack A. Bjerke, who is noted for his expertise in the motor sport industry, jointly head Baker & Hostetler LLP's sports and entertainment industry group. Lee leads a team which is advising Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club on its $81m re-development of its Major League Baseball Spring Training Facility and Ball Park in Dunedin, Florida. Bjerke continues to act for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in connection with sponsorship, employment and other commercial contracts and assisted Bryan Herta Autosport with business reorganizing and its joint venture with Andretti Autosport. Examples of the team's recent contentious work include defending Atlanta Dream Too in a breach of contract case filed by its former coach, and representing the Atlanta Braves and MLB in litigation after a minor was struck in the head by a line drive foul ball at Turner Field.
Foley & Lardner LLP
Foley & Lardner LLP's sports practice is jointly led by Mary Braza and Kevin Schulz, who are both based in Milwaukee. It not only has the capabilities to handle a range of corporate and commercial transactions but also assists clients in litigation. The group is furthermore able to leverage its employment team in labor disputes. New York-based litigator Jonathan Israel is another key name to note.
The 'responsive' New York-based sports law practice at Herrick, Feinstein LLP counts the New York Yankees, major league soccer franchise D.C. United and international golfing promoter Top Rank among its clients. Practice head Irwin Kishner is advising the New York Islanders Hockey Club on its partnership with Sterling Project Development and Oak View Group in connection with the development of the Islanders’ new arena complex at Belmont Park Racetrack. Kishner and Daniel Etna are also acting for Legends Hospitality in its partnership with Notre Dame and JMI Sports to oversee Notre Dame's sales, marketing, hospitality, media rights and branding services. Eric Stabler jointly heads the team alongside Kishner and Etna and frequently handles financing transactions. While known largely for its transactional expertise, the group also has the capabilities to handle litigation, with New Jersey-based Ronald Levine a key name to note for class actions.
The Chicago-based sports and sports facilities group at Katten 'blends technical experience with practical knowledge' and 'puts clients first while always focusing on the bigger picture and the right business deal'. Boasting 'extensive experience', Adam Klein heads the practice and attracts praise for being 'a great leader who is always willing to get his hands dirty and get in the weeds'. He is assisting Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks with their new telecast rights agreements and sponsorship agreements, and is representing Golden State Warriors in relation to its arena construction loan, tax and capital structure matters and its eSports activities. The team also acted for a group led by David Bonderman in connection with its proposed acquisition of a new NHL franchise in Seattle.
The sports management team at McGuireWoods LLP frequently advises financial institutions in stadium, team, owner and league wide credit financing transactions. Los Angeles-based Richard Grant also has experience acting for Kia Motors in a range of sports sponsorship deals. Kevin McGinnis, who is based in the firm's Charlotte office, is a key name to note.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
New York-based Robert Raskopf heads Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP's sports practice, which handles a range of litigation and investigations in the sector. The group represented Pro-Football in opposition of a petition to cancel federal trademark registrations containing the word 'Redskins' on the ground of disparagement. Raskopt and Washington DC-based white collar criminal defense attorney William Burck are representing MLB players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard in a defamation claim against Al Jazeera America relating to false statements alleging the players' use of banned steriods in the documentary The Dark Side. The team was strengthened with the addition of litigation heavy weight Alex Spiro from Brafman & Associates.
The sports practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP offers 'attention to detail and an intimate understanding of the marketplace'. The group has particular experience handling a range of employment disputes for its sports sector clients; Jeffrey Klein acted for head football coach of the University of Maryland DJ Durkin in an ESPN investigation into the death of a football player as a result of heatstroke during spring practice. Beyond labor law litigation, Yehudah Buchweitz defended Showtime Networks in a series of putative class actions brought by plaintiffs who claimed to have been unable to stream the high-profile boxing match between boxing legend Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor after purchasing the pay-per-view match. Litigator Eric Hochstadt is another name to note, particularly for antitrust matters.