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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi is “one of the most important arbitrators at the CAS”, say interviewees – a view echoed in our research, which he tops again this year. He is “the best of the best”, and “his experience can bring the added value that is sometimes needed to solve a very complicated matter”, according to commentators.

Questions & Answers

Michele (Michael) A R Bernasconi is a partner in the Zurich office of Bär & Karrer AG, one of the largest and leading Swiss law firms. A graduate of the University of Zurich (lic iur, 1989) and Harvard Law School (LLM, 1996), Michele Bernasconi was admitted to the Swiss bar in 1992. He advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration in commercial, media and sports matters.

Which came first: an interest in law or an interest in sport?

I was around five years old when I started to follow with great interest both the Perry Mason TV series (an American legal drama starring Raymond Burr) and two sports giants, Jackie Stewart and Johan Cruyff. One could say that I have always been passionate about law and also about sports, so I feel very lucky to combine the two in my professional life.

To what extent is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) an effective body in resolving disputes?

If as a lawyer in a sporting matter, you have never been forced to try your luck before an ordinary state court, you will never truly appreciate the advantages of CAS. Of course, CAS is not perfect and there is still room for it to evolve and improve. But it is clearly a huge advantage for the sports family to have the possibility to submit a sports-related dispute to an arbitral tribunal that is neutral, experienced in sporting matters, efficient, and reasonably inexpensive for the parties to such dispute.

What has been the most interesting case you have worked on?

The most interesting case is always the one I have right in front of me on my table. But I must admit that the first Matuzalem case, where I served as president of the CAS panel, was special to me. The decision was confirmed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal and has had an influential role on many other cases of breach of contract by a football player or a club.

What has been the most significant development in sports law since you started practising?

Certain structural developments are of great significance, such as the introduction of the first World Anti-Doping Code, the recognition of CAS by FIFA, and the unbelievable success of the UEFA Champions League. But equally important, as I wrote few years ago, is the emergence of a new international community of sports lawyers that simply did not exist 20 years ago. I feel a great sense of cooperation and collegiality among the members of this community.

What makes Bär & Karrer stand out from the competition in this field?

I believe that a law firm benefits very much from having great clients. Our sports department has had the privilege to work with very demanding, but also very high-quality clients within the sport sector. Today, I truly enjoy working with my partner Jan Kleiner and all other members of our team. Working in a team is not only necessary but is also a blessing: only a strong team can aim to achieve the “magic mix” of success and satisfaction.

You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What do you feel is still left for you to achieve?

I hope to maintain the right motivation for what I do. I am passionate about my work and the people involved, and I hope to continue to avoid doing anything for prestige, status, money or approval alone, as someone wiser than me once wrote.

Thought Leaders - Data - Telecoms & Media 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi is applauded for his "immaculate reputation as a leading arbitrator". He frequently represents domestic and international TMT clients in disputes and transactions.

Questions & Answers

Michele “Michael” Bernasconi is a partner at the leading Swiss firm Bär & Karrer office and heads the sports, media and entertainment practice. He advises on a range of sports, media, energy, telecoms and IT matters, and is considered one of the most experienced arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme; president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law; founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association; member of the board of Swiss Tennis; and chair of the sports committee of the Swiss Bar Association. He is a graduate of the University of Zurich (lic iur) and Harvard Law School (LLM), and teaches at the University of Lucerne.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career? 

I was around five years old when I started to follow, with great interest, the Perry Mason TV series (an American legal drama starring Raymond Burr). One could say that I have always been passionate about law and justice, and the very human stories and struggles that are involved.

What are the main challenges currently facing lawyers in the telecoms, media and sports sectors?

Besides the usual challenges faced by lawyers today, the telecoms and media sectors are among the most rapidly evolving industries while, at the same time, being at the core of our modern, day-to-day life – with more or less problematic social and cultural issues involved.

One big challenge in the sports sector is that one is often involved in matters that you will read about in newspapers or on social media. In other words, sports-related legal work is and will always be the subject of passionate reviews and commentary from the public, perhaps unlike any other field of law.

What impact has the increasingly stringent and complex regulatory framework surrounding data law had on the sports industry in recent years? 

I believe that the strongest impact is yet to come. Data and analytics have always been a big part of the sports world – for participants and fans alike. The new border will be focused on the use of very personal data during sporting events and the protection of the personalities of the athletes. For example, should the public know the heart rate of a certain athlete during a race? Which concerns should the regulators consider, and where should they draw the line?

As data law issues become increasingly global for corporate clients, what are the key qualities lawyers currently practising in the area should possess? 

There are perhaps two important qualities. First, it is crucial to have an excellent network of experienced people who are, at the same time, your trusted colleagues. Second, one must keep an open mind about the fact that other jurisdictions may have a totally different regulatory setting; in other words, never take it for granted that what applies in your country applies everywhere in the world.

How has the nature of TMT disputes evolved since you first began practising? 

I have seen a general trend or shift away from highly regulatory or competition law-related disputes, and towards rather more “commercial” or business-related disputes: from “pricing” to “price”, so to speak.

What do you enjoy most about working at the intersection of sports and data law? 

Sports is a field of law that, to a very large extent, is truly international. To be able to connect with people from different cultures is certainly one of the nicest aspects of working in this area. And data law raises extremely interesting issues when applied to sport, because to some extent athletes are part of a business that demands a high degree of transparency – not privacy, for sure.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a legal career?

Work hard and enjoy it – but if you don’t enjoy it, stop and do something else, because law is not the only great thing a person can do.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi is “one of the most important arbitrators at the CAS”, say interviewees – a view echoed in our research, which he tops again this year. He is “the best of the best”, and “his experience can bring the added value that is sometimes needed to solve a very complicated matter”, according to commentators.

Questions & Answers

Michele (Michael) A R Bernasconi is a partner in the Zurich office of Bär & Karrer AG, one of the largest and leading Swiss law firms. A graduate of the University of Zurich (lic iur, 1989) and Harvard Law School (LLM, 1996), Michele Bernasconi was admitted to the Swiss bar in 1992. He advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration in commercial, media and sports matters.

Which came first: an interest in law or an interest in sport?

I was around five years old when I started to follow with great interest both the Perry Mason TV series (an American legal drama starring Raymond Burr) and two sports giants, Jackie Stewart and Johan Cruyff. One could say that I have always been passionate about law and also about sports, so I feel very lucky to combine the two in my professional life.

To what extent is the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) an effective body in resolving disputes?

If as a lawyer in a sporting matter, you have never been forced to try your luck before an ordinary state court, you will never truly appreciate the advantages of CAS. Of course, CAS is not perfect and there is still room for it to evolve and improve. But it is clearly a huge advantage for the sports family to have the possibility to submit a sports-related dispute to an arbitral tribunal that is neutral, experienced in sporting matters, efficient, and reasonably inexpensive for the parties to such dispute.

What has been the most interesting case you have worked on?

The most interesting case is always the one I have right in front of me on my table. But I must admit that the first Matuzalem case, where I served as president of the CAS panel, was special to me. The decision was confirmed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal and has had an influential role on many other cases of breach of contract by a football player or a club.

What has been the most significant development in sports law since you started practising?

Certain structural developments are of great significance, such as the introduction of the first World Anti-Doping Code, the recognition of CAS by FIFA, and the unbelievable success of the UEFA Champions League. But equally important, as I wrote few years ago, is the emergence of a new international community of sports lawyers that simply did not exist 20 years ago. I feel a great sense of cooperation and collegiality among the members of this community.

What makes Bär & Karrer stand out from the competition in this field?

I believe that a law firm benefits very much from having great clients. Our sports department has had the privilege to work with very demanding, but also very high-quality clients within the sport sector. Today, I truly enjoy working with my partner Jan Kleiner and all other members of our team. Working in a team is not only necessary but is also a blessing: only a strong team can aim to achieve the “magic mix” of success and satisfaction.

You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What do you feel is still left for you to achieve?

I hope to maintain the right motivation for what I do. I am passionate about my work and the people involved, and I hope to continue to avoid doing anything for prestige, status, money or approval alone, as someone wiser than me once wrote.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi excels at the intersection of IT and media matters, and is known for his outsourcing expertise.

Biography

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Lucerne and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Data - Telecoms & Media 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi is applauded for his "immaculate reputation as a leading arbitrator". He frequently represents domestic and international TMT clients in disputes and transactions.

Biography

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Lucerne and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Sports

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi is one of the leading lights in the sports market, with sources affirming that he "is really the godfather of sports law in Switzerland" and "one of the best in the world".

Biography

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Lucerne and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

National Leader

Switzerland - Data 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi is looked upon with enormous favour for his expertise in outsourcing projects and transactions across the TMT sector.

Biography

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Lucerne and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Michele Bernasconi stands out as “the big name in the sports world”. He has a “plethora of experience” representing domestic and international clients, and a “phenomenal reputation that speaks for itself”.

Biography

Michele Bernasconi heads the sports practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2001.

Michele Bernasconi advises on a broad range of sports, media, energy, telecom and IT matters, acting for both domestic and international clients. He has particular expertise in international litigation and arbitration as well as in commercial and transactional work relating to such industries.

His recent experience includes acting as arbitrator in international commercial and sport matters, providing advice on outsourcing and joint-venture projects, broadcasting and sponsorship agreements, ambush marketing, regulatory and antitrust work in both the telecoms and the sports sector, software licensing, electricity transmission and distribution, doping matters and international transfers of football players.

Michele Bernasconi lectures on international sports law at the University of Lucerne and is co-director of the UEFA Football Law Programme. He regularly speaks and publishes articles on topics within his practice areas.

Michele Bernasconi is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and was part of the CAS ad hoc Chamber at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He is also member of the executive board of the Swiss Tennis Association, president of the Swiss Association for Sports Law (ASDS), chairman of the sports law committee of the Swiss Bar Association and founder and co-chair of the sports law committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association (ABA), and past-chair of the communications law committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Michele Bernasconi is active as a panelist for internet domain name litigation cases and as a mediator in IP cases at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Features by Michele Bernasconi

Sports and Entertainment 2018: Roundtable

Sports and Entertainment 2018: Roundtable

Awards won by Michele Bernasconi

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