THE FIRM Covington & Burling has an enviable track record, having represented major sports clients for over 45 years. Yet while its impressive pedigree undoubtedly plays its part, its prestigious clients do not turn to the firm because of its history, but because of its masterful understanding of the industry, and because the team is universally acknowledged as smart, creative and responsive. Another attraction is the breadth of its coverage - it is one of the few firms in the market that can genuinely offer a complete sports practice, meeting its clients' litigation, media, transactional and tax needs. Its profile within the sports market is firmly underscored by the client roster, which includes sporting behemoths such as Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Client Service "The lawyers here are always attentive to our deadlines, personable and consistently professional in every way."
Commercial Awareness "An outstanding law firm with unmatched sports law expertise."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gregg Levy's fantastic reputation within the sports sector is anchored in his work as the principal outside counsel to the NFL. He is a renowned litigator with a focus on antitrust-related cases. Corporate partner Peter Zern has developed a fantastic sports practice, and he regularly handles both M&A and finance transactions for a range of leading sporting clients, including Major League Soccer (MLS), NASCAR and the NBA. Bruce Wilson is another of the team's prominent corporate attorneys. He is the principal transactional adviser to a number of leading sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA and MLB. Douglas Gibson is described by sources as "a phenomenal sports transactional attorney." He recently advised the NHL in matters relating to the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
THE FIRM Proskauer Rose has deep and long-standing relationships with all the major leagues in US sport, and regularly represents them across the full breadth of their legal needs. One of the key reasons behind this group's ongoing success is the depth and caliber of its bench, which includes seasoned sporting attorneys with corporate, litigation and labor expertise. It is difficult to pick one area of strength over another, but perhaps the best illustration of Proskauer Rose's standing in sport is its role advising the NFL, NBA and MLB on the negotiation of their collective bargaining agreements with their respective players' unions.
Commercial Awareness "The quality of their lawyering and the sheer depth of their sports experience are unrivaled."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Co-head of the sports practice, Howard Ganz is acknowledged as "preeminent for sports labor issues." He has served as the principal outside labor counsel to the NBA for over 30 years, advising the league on its collective bargaining negotiations with the players' and referees' unions, among other things. Commentators enthuse about his "experience, wisdom and incredible pragmatism," while clients delight in the fact that "you know you're speaking to the smartest guy in the room - he knows the industry inside out." His fellow cochair Joseph Leccese is "one of the leading corporate transactional lawyers in the sports practice." In addition to his role at the head of the sports group, Leccese is also the chairman of the firm. Commentators remark: "Leccese is such a great big-picture attorney, that you should really talk to him for advice on anything to do with sport." Robert Batterman is another of the group's leading sports labor attorneys. Batterman's focus is labor counseling to the NHL, MLS and the NFL, with respect to collective bargaining and related litigation. Jon Oram is a corporate practitioner with a considerable sports focus. He regularly represents sports leagues, teams, and sports investors across the full range of acquisitions, financings and licensing transactions. Sources concur that "he is outstanding at negotiating and drafting agreements, and his speed and stamina are extraordinary." Bradley Ruskin cochairs the sports group, and heads the litigation side of the team. Clients praise him as "among the most talented litigators out there - his legal smarts and solid instinct for the law are really beyond compare." Corporate partner Wayne Katz focuses on advising sports leagues and teams on their transactional work. He recently counseled the NBA on its purchase of the New Orleans Hornets.
THE FIRM This group's illustrious sports profile is anchored in its phenomenal stable of sports litigators. The firm's expertise is such that it has represented all the major leagues in high-profile, high-stakes sports disputes. While litigation for governing bodies is its most notable work, the group also represents sports teams and franchises, and their owners, in M&A, sponsorship agreements and financing work.
Sources say: "The leading sports litigation outfit."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Shepard Goldfein heads up the firm's antitrust and global competition practice group, and is universally viewed as "one of - if not the - top antitrust lawyers in sport." Among a number of prominent highlights, he recently led the team which represented the NHL in a highly publicized arbitration that upheld the league's rejection of the 17-year, $102 million contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils. Jeffrey Mishkin is another giant of sports law. A former executive vice president and chief legal officer at the NBA, he is so steeped in sports law that one client confided that Mishkin is "the gold standard by which I measure sports counsel." Even rival attorneys will concede that "he's fabulous, absolutely fabulous - he's one of the preeminent sports litigators. I regularly pick up the phone and call for advice."
THE FIRM Arent Fox's sports group focuses on the representation of sports teams, and owners and purchasers of sports franchises. Sources hail the team's expertise in acquisition transactions, stadium financing and construction, sponsorship and naming rights work, and sports media and technology. The group represented the family of Abe Pollin in connection with the sale of all of its interests in the NBA's Washington Wizards and the Verizon Center to Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
Client Service "It's the individuals that make the firm. I was very satisfied with the work they did, and they keep non-lawyers pleased as well - that speaks to the great personality of the lawyers."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Brand chairs the Arent Fox sports group, and maintains an active personal practice in representing both purchasers and sellers of sports franchises. He is also recognized for his expertise in sports stadium transactions. Sources describe him as "not only a very tactical corporate lawyer, but someone who knows the sports business and the industry inside out."
THE FIRM DLA Piper has long been one of the leading sports law practices in Europe, but until recently its US counterparts have not been able to boast the same clout. This year, however, saw the firm make some astute hires, bringing in Peter White's impressive sports group from Nixon Peabody. The team has a fantastic sports profile, predominantly in terms of sports stadium financing, where the group can lay claim to being the best on the market. A notable example is the team's role as underwriters' counsel on $511 million of revenue bonds issued by Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporate to finance a new arena for the New Jersey Nets in Brooklyn.
Commercial Awareness "Some of the smartest lawyers you'll find out there for sports law - the top choice for stadium financings."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Peter White is the former head of Nixon Peabody's global sports and entertainment practice, and his addition to the fold is seen as a considerable coup. One industry source described him as "the guru for stadium and arena financing." Charles Baker is another of the firm's new recruits from Nixon Peabody. He is a corporate partner with extensive expertise in representing bidders in sport franchise acquisition transactions. He is relied upon as someone who is "well connected, incredibly bright and just able to get the deal closed."
THE FIRM Foley & Lardner's sports practice draws upon a multidisciplinary group of lawyers, enabling it to counsel sports clients on litigation, IP, tax and M&A transactions. The team has an especially notable profile within baseball, and recently represented investment group Rangers Baseball Express in its much-publicized purchase of the Texas Rangers MLB franchise.
Client Service "They have the ratio just right - they listen twice as much as they talk. That helps them present things that are directly focused on us; what we believe in."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Mary Braza heads up the firm's sports group, and acts as outside counsel to MLB across a wide range of issues. She scores especially highly with sources for her client service: "She brings immense preparation - she has such a keen understanding of us as the client, but also she has an incredible understanding of the sports industry itself."
THE FIRM HRO makes its debut in the Chambers sports ranking this year, in recognition of its broad presence within the sector. Its team represents a wide array of sporting entities, including major league sports teams, as well as Olympic movement and collegiate sports bodies. The firm's attorneys work with sports clients on an equally extensive range of issues, including litigation, corporate, banking, finance, labor and real estate. Market commentators are keen to highlight the group's expertise in sponsorship and naming rights work.
Client Service "It offers the best possible client service."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Young is the managing partner of the firm's Colorado Springs office, and has considerable sports expertise. His profile is particularly high in the antidoping arena, and he has handled significant cases for the World Anti-Doping Agency, the US Anti-Doping Agency and the USOC, among others. Steven Smith cochairs the sports and entertainment team. He focuses his practice on naming rights and sponsorship issues, licensing agreements and media contracts. He receives tremendous praise from client sources, with one going so far as to suggest: "Steve is perhaps the best-kept secret in the sports world as it relates to providing legal services." Another commentator notes: "We lavish trust on him for his ability to clarify the legal, and also because of his disproportionate talent for understanding the financial."
THE FIRM Weil, Gotshal & Manges' sports practice has traditionally been recognized for its expertise in labor law, and the presence of New York-based James Quinn ensures that this wing of the practice remains strong. The firm's sports corporate practice, centered largely on its Dallas office, is growing steadily in profile, and the group recently represented Texas Rangers Baseball Partners in connection with the high-profile sale of the franchise.
Commercial Awareness "An experienced sports group, with great relationships with governing bodies and respect throughout the industry."
Richard R Young of Bryan Cave HRO
Steven Smith of Bryan Cave HRO
KEY INDIVIDUALS New York-based James Quinn has an extensive track record in litigating sports antitrust cases, and remains active in the sports sector. He is currently providing counsel to the NFL Players Association in connection with its labor negotiations with the league.
of McLaughlin & Stern LLP has a considerable profile in the industry, with sources keen to acknowledge his expertise in athletics disputes, pointing particularly to his work on behalf of USA Track & Field. Bradley Andreozzi
of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP is recognized for his experience of handling athletic disputes, which includes cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Curt Holbreich
of K&L Gates is a prominent litigator with considerable expertise in athletics disputes. Howard Jacobs
has established his own eponymous law firm and focuses solely on representing athletes in athletic disputes. Maurice Suh
of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has a niche practicein athletics disputes, and has built a considerable reputation in athletics through his representation of athletes such as Floyd Landis and Justin Gatlin. Charles Henn
works out of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP's Atlanta office. He is a highly regarded IP litigator who represents a number of prominent sporting clients. DC-based Mark Levinstein
of Williams & Connolly LLP works with a range of clients from professional, Olympic and amateur sports. Denis Clive Braham
is the chair of both Winstead PC and its sports business and public venues group. His knowledge of the sector is considerable, due to his long-standing counsel to sports entities such as the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans. Sources describe him as a true deal maker: "He understands that there isn't room for a cookie-cutter approach in sports - he has such experience, he knows how to put the pieces of the puzzle together." Adam Klein
chairs the sports law practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Working out of the firm's Chicago office, he counsels a broad spectrum of sports sector clients on an equally wide array of issues, including regulatory and compliance issues, financing, IP and sponsorship issues, among others. Paul Greene
of Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, LLP is noted by market sources, who believe: "He is making a considerable name for himself in sports law."
His focus is principally on Olympic antidoping and eligibility arbitrations. Robert Raskopf
of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP continues to be recognized by his peers as one of "the best litigators"
operating in the sports space. A prominent trial lawyer across IP, media and entertainment, and sports, Raskopf continues to be involved in a number of prominent sports cases. He notably successfully represented Pro-Football in a long-running dispute over the Washington Redskins' trademarks. Gregory Curtner
is a new addition to the practice at Schiff Hardin LLP, having left Miller Canfield. A veteran trial lawyer, he regularly serves as lead counsel in national antitrust disputes and class actions.