Legal Marketplace Analysis

For the second edition of this publication we feature 191 sports lawyers and  201 entertainment lawyers across 36 countries altogether. Once again DLA Piper emerges as the dominant firm with leading practitioners from six different jurisdictions. Bird & Bird features as a leading player in Europe, while Greenberg Traurig is particularly strong in the US. Reed Smith follows closely behind, delivering a pre-eminent transatlantic offering. A number of boutiques are also prominent, including the London-based sports firm Couchmans.  

We also select the most highly regarded individuals in the world, comprising the top five lawyers in the sports, gaming and entertainment fields, as well as the top five barristers at the UK bar.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Lawyer Firm
Jeffrey Mishkin Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, New York
Jonathan Taylor Bird & Bird, London
Stephen Cottrell Cottsport, Auckland
José Juan Pintó Sala Pinto-Ruiz & Del Valle, Barcelona
Maidie Oliveau Arent Fox, Los Angeles
Michael Lipton QC Dickinson Wright, Toronto
Anthony Cabot Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Las Vegas
Nick Nocton Jeffrey Green Russell, London
Mark Clayton Lionel Sawyer & Collins, Las Vegas
Gil White Herzog Fox & Neeman, Tel Aviv
UK Bar
Adam Lewis QC Blackstone Chambers, London
Paul Harris QC Monckton Chambers, London
Ian Mill QC Blackstone Chambers, London
Jim Sturman QC 2 Bedford Row, London
Michael Beloff QC Blackstone Chambers, London
Kenneth Ziffren Ziffren Brittenham, Los Angeles
John Frankenheimer Loeb & Loeb, Los Angeles
David Zeffman Olswang, London
Nick Fitzpatrick DLA Piper, London
Bertram Fields Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, Los Angeles


DLA Piper possesses “strong expertise” in sport and entertainment law and once again emerges as the leading firm in our research with 13 nominations. Four lawyers represent the firm’s London office including the “truly exceptional” Nick Fitzpatrick who co-chairs the global media sport and entertainment team and advises a major clients ranging from US studios and sponsors to private individuals. He is joined by Stephen Ketteley, a “leading expert” on the infrastructure underpinning the online gambling and gaming industries who regularly advises suppliers and operators in relation to intellectual property and software development. Hilary Stewart-Jones focuses her practice on gambling matters, having spent five years as in-house head of the gambling division at Ladbrokes. She is considered a “real authority” in the field.

The firm’s international presence is demonstrated by the inclusion of lawyers from a further four jurisdictions. In Madrid, Albert Agustinoy Guilayn advises a range of multinational gambling operators in connection with commercial and litigation matters in Spain and is praised for his “comprehensive knowledge” of the regulatory market. Based in Milan, Giulio Coraggio focuses on gambling and gaming matters and comes “highly recommended” for his expertise in related e-commerce, information technology and software agreements. Kai Tumbrägel specialises in German sports and entertainment-related litigation described as a “superb advocate” by peers and clients alike. In New York, Peter White is “vastly experienced” in all aspects of the professional sports industry and regularly represents various parties in major transactions involving Major League Baseball, the NFL, Serie A and the Premier League.

Couchmans confirms its status as a “prominent” sports boutique with eight listings. Co-founder Nic Couchman is a “greatly respected” figure in the field with “sector-leading” expertise in sports-related IP matters. He also has experience in the development and implementation of commercial rights programmes for various sporting events. The “fantastic” Andy Korman has acted for clients across a broad range of sports and is particularly well-known for his work advising sports organisations such as FIFA and UEFA, while Satish Khandke is “revered” for his work in the corporate side of sport. The “outstanding” Nick White regularly advises talented individuals such as Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Sir Chris Hoy and is also “well reputed” for his work in relation to IP and broadcasting rights. Andrew Price is a “bona fide expert” on all aspects of sports broadcasting, having advised the Football League on its domestic and international media rights deals for the 2009/2010 season.

Bird & Bird also performs impressively, with eight nominations. Jonathan Taylor co-heads the firm’s sports group and is recognised as one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research. He has a “stellar reputation” for his work advising sports bodies on matters including the exploitation of broadcasting rights and challenges to regulatory decisions. Max Duthie is a “leading figure” in the sports market and has an “esteemed” practice focusing on rules and regulations, discipline and anti-doping, player contracts and brand protection among other matters. In Hong Kong, Justin Walkey chairs the Asia-Pacific practice and is “renowned” for his expertise in the corporate, regulatory and commercial aspects of sports and entertainment law. Alban Kang is managing partner at the firm’s Singapore office and is “acclaimed” for his expertise in relation to advertisement and entertainment law, while Staffan Boström heads the media sector group in Stockholm and is a “go-to” guy for advice in all commercial and IP-related aspects of the music industry.

Greenberg Traurig is a leading firm in the entertainment field and rates highly among respondents with eight listings. Mark Clayton is the most highly regarded lawyer in our gambling section and is a “font of knowledge” for gaming regulatory matters. He has wide-ranging experience in the sector and has represented numerous clients in relation to the manufacturing and distribution of gaming equipment. Vincent Chieffo co-chairs the firm’s national media and entertainment litigation group is a “major player” in the US market. He regularly represents high-profile clients in entertainment cases relating to copyright and trademark infringement, right of publicity, defamation and royalties, with peers describing him as an “incredible litigator”. Daniel Black chairs the West Coast entertainment and media practice and has “vast experience” in the motion picture and digital media sectors, having represented a wide range of clients including production and distribution companies, video game developers, advertising agencies and television personalities. Jay Cooper founded the firm’s Los Angeles entertainment practice and is considered a “leading expert” on all legal matters pertaining to the music industry, with a particular focus on IP. In Atlanta, the “tremendous” Joel Katz chairs the global media and entertainment practice and advises a range of successful music producers, entertainers, record label and Fortune 500 companies.

Four of Reed Smith’s seven nominees are based in London, including Gregor Pryor, who specialises in issues arising from the distribution and sale of digital content. He advises a wide range of content owners such as computer game companies, film and television producers and music publishers, and is recognised as a “huge innovator” in the sector. He is joined by Michael Maxtone-Smith, a “go-to” lawyer for film finance matters who regularly represents banks and various other financiers in relation to lines of credit and tax structures for distribution financings. In Century City, Michael Sherman is recognised for his expertise in both the sports and entertainment industries, and has a “greatly respected” practice focusing on lucrative transactions in the entertainment and media industries. Douglas Wood is managing partner of the firm’s New York office and co-chair of its media and entertainment industry group. With over 35 years’ experience acting for multinational companies in motion picture, publishing, advertising and intellectual property-related matters, he is widely acknowledged as a “legend” of the US bar.

At O’Melveny & Myers, Lisbeth Savill is “one of Europe’s foremost” film finance lawyers, having coordinated the financing and distribution arrangements for major motion pictures such as An Education, The King’s Speech and Inglourious Basterds. She focuses on commercial work for filmmakers and television content providers and is described as a “key player” in the industry. In the US, Robert Schwartz chairs the firm’s entertainment and media and litigation practice and is a “renowned advocate” in the industry, while Daniel Petrocelli comes “highly recommended” for his intellectual property expertise. Stephen Scharf is “well known” for his work in the purchase and sale of entertainment companies and also specialises in film financing transactions.

In Los Angeles, Ziffren Brittenham is a “dominant” firm in the entertainment sphere and receives six nominations in this edition. Founding partner Kenneth Ziffren emerges as one of the most highly nominated lawyers in our research and is praised for his “extensive” transactional practice in the entertainment and media industries. The “hugely talented” Skip Brittenham is well known for his expertise in major transactions within the film industry, such as Disney’s acquisition of Pixar and the IPO of Dreamworks Animation. John Branca is a “real legend” in the field who specialises in representing rock and roll artists, independent investors and independent music labels. He has advised nearly 30 acts who have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and is also recommended for his work advising on the sale of prestigious music publishing catalogues.

Five lawyers from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips are selected for inclusion, including the “exceptional” Gary Gilbert, who co-chairs the firm’s entertainment and media practice and brings his “valuable experience” in music transactions to the role, having previously acted as senior vice president at Capitol Records. He is joined by Robert Jacobs, a “superb” entertainment litigator who acts for a wide range of major clients in the industry, including Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records as well as leading artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Usher. In Washington, DC, Kenneth Kaufman is a “key player” in the field with “comprehensive expertise” in entertainment and communications law.

At Loeb & Loeb, John Frankenheimer is among the highest ranked individuals in our research, with a “very strong” practice focusing on the representation of institutional clients and talented individuals. He is a “key name” in the music industry and advises on a wide range of matters including talent contracts, distribution, licensing, publishing and live events. New York-based Brian Socolow “stands out” for his expertise in both the sports and entertainment industries, while Barry Mallen is acknowledged as a “fantastic litigator” in motion picture, television and music-related disputes for clients including the Rolling Stones, the Beastie Boys and Destiny’s Child.

At Arent Fox, Maidie Oliveau is recognised as one of the most highly nominated practitioners in our research. She receives widespread praise for her “exceptional handling” of sports-related transactions. She regularly acts for professional sports teams, leagues, corporations, networks and governing bodies in connection with licensing deals pertaining to acquisitions, naming rights, sponsorships, broadcasting rights and trademark protection. Richard Brand chairs the firm’s sports practice and has a “stellar reputation” for his work representing sports franchises, sponsors and service content providers in relation to naming rights and media rights transactions.

At Olswang, David Zeffman has been a “major player” in the UK media and entertainment sector for over 25 years, with “extensive experience” in the commercial and regulatory aspects of television, gambling and sport. He specialises in the sale of media rights and has also advised on the launch of several television channels.

At Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger in Los Angeles, Bertram Fields maintains an “immaculate reputation” in the entertainment industry, having represented numerous leading performers, directors, writers, producers and studios, including Tom Cruise, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, MGM, DreamWorks and the Weinstein Company. He has appeared in many important entertainment and communications cases over the last 30 years and is a “real authority” in the field.

At Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Los Angeles-based Scott Edelman co-chairs the firm’s media, entertainment and technology practice group and the transnational litigation practice. He regularly acts for major motion picture studios, television networks and music companies in a wide range of matters and is recommended by peers for his “expert handling” of copyright, trademarks and royalty disputes.

In London, Onside Law has established itself as a leading boutique firm in the sports legal market. Oliver Hunt is a founding partner at the firm and is “lauded” for his golf-related work, having represented the PGA European Tour, the Ryder Cup, Rory McIlroy, Sir Nick Faldo, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell. The “sharp and insightful” Chris Walsh specialises in commercial and contentious matters in the sport sector and regularly acts for the England and Wales Cricket Board, while Jamie Singer and Simon Thorp also come highly recommended.

In Manchester, Brabners is a “greatly respected” firm in this area, as demonstrated by its three listings in this edition. Maurice Watkins heads the firm’s sports team and is roundly described as “one of the finest operators” in the field. He regularly manages high-profile international football transfers and “stands out” for his representation of clubs and players in proceedings before FIFA, UEFA, FA and Premier League disciplinary bodies. He is joined by the “superb” Jason Smith, who heads the commercial practice and specialises in high-value contract work, and Matthew Bennett who is singled out for praise by peers and clients alike.

At Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, the “truly outstanding” Jeffrey Mishkin emerges as the most highly regarded sports lawyer in our research. He has a “prestigious” practice covering all aspects of sports law, with a particular focus on intellectual property and litigation, and has appeared in every major legal decision affecting the NBA over the past 35 years. Also nominated is Shepard Goldfein, who is particularly well known for his representation of the US National Hockey League.

At Cottsport in New Zealand, Stephen Cottrell acts in relation to a variety of sport and entertainment matters, ranging from the representation of athletes to the negotiation on major media deals; he is praised for his “impressive versatility”.

At Pinto-Ruiz & Del Valle in Barcelona, José Juan Pintó Sala is widely recognised as an “essential resource” for advice on sports-related legal matters in Spain, and is also recommended for his work as an arbitrator, having participated in the ad hoc division at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

At the UK Bar, sport is an area of growth and the barristers listed in this edition are considered some of the world’s foremost experts in this field for high-profile disputes and CAS proceedings. Three of the five most highly regarded barristers in our research are based at Blackstone Chambers, including the “incredibly skilled” Adam Lewis QC, who acts in a wide range of major sports disputes and recently represented UEFA in its defence of two clubs’ appeals against exclusion form European football competition for match-fixing. Ian Mill QC is lauded for his “forensic approach” as an advocate in cases before the Chancery Division, Commercial Court and Court of Appeal, and regularly represents individuals, organisers, managers, governing bodies and broadcasters in sporting disputes. Michael Beloff QC has a “wealth of experience” in sports and entertainment law and is described by peers as a “formidable presence” in court, having also acted as an arbitrator at four Olympic Games. Lord Pannick QC regularly appears before sports tribunals and is also noted for his media and entertainment work, with respondents full of praise for his “poise and excellent style of delivery”. Andrew Green QC has an “enviable reputation” in the field and is recommended for his disciplinary work, having recently acted for Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew in proceedings brought against him by the FA. Kate Gallafent QC is a “first rate” advocate with “comprehensive” expertise in relation to anti-doping violations and discrimination cases, while the “wonderfully gifted” Nick De Marco focuses on the representation of sporting organisations in doping hearings, commercial claims and sponsorship cases.

At Monckton Chambers, Paul Harris QC specialises in sports commercial cases and has appeared in numerous high-profile cases including Fulham v The Premier League and Hicks & Gillett v Liverpool FC; he is praised for his “sharp intellect and practical approach”. He is joined by the “brilliant” Fiona Banks, who regularly acts on behalf of national sports governing bodies, individuals, clubs and broadcasters in connection with a range of disciplinary matters and contractual disputes.

Jim Sturman QC is deputy head of chambers at 2 Bedford Row and is in “high demand” for his experience in football disciplinary proceedings; past clients include Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Frank Lampard, Andre Villas Boas and Eden Hazard.

At 5RB, Mark Warby QC comes highly recommended for his expertise in media and entertainment law. He has acted for and against all the major national newspapers and broadcasters, and is particularly well versed in matters pertaining to defamation and privacy.

Over the course of our research we have identified the most prominent and respected lawyers in the gambling sector. At Dickinson Wright, Toronto-based Michael Lipton QC is “one of the country’s leading experts” on gaming legislation and regularly advises clients on compliance and due diligence requirements in the industry. Anthony Cabot of Lewis Roca Rothberger is a “valuable resource” for advice on gambling law, internet gambling and sweepstakes contests, with clients full of praise for his “in-depth technical knowledge”. At Jeffrey Green Russell, Nick Nocton is a gaming lawyer “of the highest standards”, renowned for his international work advising gaming operators and suppliers. In Tel Aviv, the “engaging and effective” Gil White at Herzog Fox & Neeman advises leading international gaming companies in relation to their corporate strategy and e-commerce issues. At Hambach & Hambach, co-founding and managing partner Wulf Hambach heads the regulatory and licensing practice and is a “true leader” on gaming and betting matters in the German market.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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