Sports & Entertainment 2017: Analysis

The 2017 edition of our Sports & Entertainment edition covers more practitioners than ever before, with 258 listings for Sports and 222 for Entertainment. In total, 263 firms are represented from 34 countries. The practitioners listed are at the apogee of their fields; those selected in our Sports chapter are experts across a huge variety of sports, from basketball to ice-skating to football, while the entertainment lawyers highlighted cover all media, from television and film to theatre, publishing and music. All areas of law are represented, including transactional, intellectual property, regulatory and litigation. Those practitioners scoring most highly in our research are highlighted below.


Thought Leaders
1. Michele Bernasconi Bär & Karrer, Zurich
2. Antonio Rigozzi Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler, Geneva
3. Adam Lewis QC Blackstone Chambers, London
4. Jonathan Taylor QC Bird & Bird, London
5. Mike Morgan Morgan Sports Law LLP, London
6. José Juan Pintó Sala Pinto-Ruiz & Del Valle, Barcelona
7. Lucas Ferrer Pinto-Ruiz & Del Valle, Barcelona
8. Jorge Ibarrola Libra Law, Lausanne
9. Stephen Sampson Squire Patton Boggs, London
10. Ian Lynam Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, London
1. Jörg Hofmann Melchers, Heidelberg
2. Quirino Mancini Tonucci & Partners, Rome
3. Justin Franssen Kalff Katz & Franssen Attorneys, Amsterdam
The Thought Leaders are those individuals who received the highest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources this year. Our research has identified them as being truly outstanding practitioners and the very best in their field

Leading Firms

Who's Who Legal does not list law firms, only individual lawyers. The leading firms are those in each region whose listed practitioners received the most total nominations in our research.

BLACKSTONE CHAMBERS maintains its consensus status as the leading set at the Bar for sporting disputes. Nine silks and two juniors are recommended in the area this year. In addition, eight barristers are highlighted as leading names in entertainment litigation. With 15 barristers listed in total, Blackstone heads the field in this year’s research.
Adam Lewis QC is described as “one of the best” in the market for sports litigation. Sources particularly note him as “meticulous in cross-examination” and “authoritative and excellent on his feet”.
Michael Beloff QC is “the godfather of sports law” with a “legendary reputation”, say commentators. He is particularly well known as a “great arbitrator” with vast experience in a host of major sports.
The “excellent” Kate Gallafent QC is highly regarded by sources for her duty of care and safeguarding work in sport.
Jane Mulcahy QC is “rated very highly” by interviewees for her prowess in sports law, acting as counsel, mediator and arbitrator on matters ranging from child safeguarding to agents’ disputes.
Nick De Marco is widely regarded as “the authority on football at the junior Bar”, with sources adding that “he is turning into a top barrister in the sector”. He handles a broad range of disciplinary and commercial disputes.

BIRD & BIRD also perform exceptionally well again this year, with nine listed lawyers: six in sports and three in entertainment.
Jonathan Taylor QC is a “real titan in sports” who “continues to be at the top of the field representing agencies”, particularly in anti-doping cases. According to one impressed peer, “Jonathan is phenomenal – in a league of his own. He is the absolute authority on sports, full stop.”
Max Duthie “has a great reputation” and is a “top lawyer, especially for rugby”, say sources. He handles a wide range of commercial, contractual and anti-doping cases.
The “highly respected” Martin Schimke is a “top CAS arbitrator” who has vast experience in sporting disputes.

Four outstanding sports practitioners are highlighted from LÉVY KAUFMANN-KOHLER.
Antonio Rigozzi is “a giant in the sports sphere” who is praised for his “leave-no-stone-unturned approach and his ability to untangle a messy situation”. Interviewees also describe him as “a fabulous lawyer and a very smooth advocate”. He is particularly well known for his work before CAS and other sporting tribunals.
Brianna Quinn is recommended by sources for her burgeoning sports practice, which sees her represent clients before CAS and the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal, among others. One client says: “Her legal reasoning and drafting skills are impressive. She understands our issues and is able to map out solutions and approaches very quickly.”

Specialist sports firm COUCHMANS has five lawyers listed in this year’s edition.
Nick White is a high-profile name who represents numerous leading names in the sporting world, including major athletes and governing bodies. Sources call him “a leader in sports data and technology legal issues”.
The “commercial” Satish Khandke “can get a deal done” and is someone who “clearly has a lot of abilities”, according to interviewees. He is well known for his work in M&A and financing in the sports world.

PINTO-RUIZ & DEL VALLE has two lawyers listed this year: both highly influential names in sports.
José Juan Pintó Sala is described as “the grandfather of CAS” by sources, who point to the knowledge gained through more than 40 years in the industry as key to his success.
Lucas Ferrer is a “great lawyer” whose four years spent as legal counsel at CAS gives him an exceptional understanding of the arbitral proceedings.

Three practitioners from KELLERHALS CARRARD are listed in this edition.
“Legend” François Carrard is an “extremely experienced and well-connected” attorney who has spent more than 50 years in sports. He is particularly prominent in CAS proceedings.

CMS CAMERON MCKENNA NABARRO OLSWANG is home to four top entertainment lawyers.
David Zeffman is a leading name in the gambling field, with particular expertise in regulatory and transactional issues.
John Enser is described as “an excellent TV and copyright lawyer who should be included for his expertise in broadcasting rights”.
Senior partner Mark Devereux is a prominent figure in media and entertainment, regularly representing leading figures in film, television and theatre among other areas.
Selina Potter is also recommended for her broadcasting expertise.

SHERIDANS is one of our leading firms for entertainment, with six of its most prominent lawyers listed, as well as two sports lawyers.
The highly regarded Andrew Nixon regularly represents sports teams and governing bodies in governance and commercial issues.
Daniel Geey is lauded as “a brilliant sports lawyer” by sources, who highlight his superb reputation in the area. He is frequently involved in football-related matters including transfers and endorsement deals.
Robin Hilton is a well-known name for entertainment, with substantial experience in film and television as well as fashion.

Newly formed sports boutique LEVEL is home to three outstanding sports practitioners.
Daniel Lowen is a “really good lawyer” who is particularly well regarded for football disputes, and is also a prominent name in cycling. Sources describe him as “extremely strong at agent disputes” while he is “rated by clients for his practical and unstuffy approach”.
Fraser Reid is another well-known name in football, identified as “very knowledgeable about the transfer process” by international peers.
Also recommended is Morris Bentata, who is noted as “a safe pair of hands for media rights work”.

Other Leading Individuals – Sports

We highlight individuals at other firms who also scored very highly in our research.


Sven Demeulemeester at ALTIUS is “highly recommended” as a “classic sports lawyer who is very well known on the Belgian scene”. He has particular expertise in labour and employment issues.

At KEANE LEGAL, “EU law expert” Benoît Keane is a standout name for the intersection of sports and competition; sources call him “the best sports lawyer in competition law”.


Chris Georghiades is a well-known and highly regarded Cypriot lawyer with extensive experience in sports, particularly as a CAS arbitrator.


Lars Hilliger of ADVICE LAW FIRM is Denmark’s top sports lawyer according to our research, fêted as a “top CAS arbitrator”. Sources praise his “superb skills in sports law combined with his empathy, which makes him one of the most-used arbitrators in CAS”.


The “always very impressive” Mike Morgan of MORGAN SPORTS LAW “is in a league of his own in anti-doping matters”, say peers, who add that “nobody knows more” about the area. He represents top-level and high-profile sportspeople as well as national Olympic committees.

The “highly experienced” Stephen Sampson of SQUIRE PATTON BOGGS is widely regarded as being “one of the best in the field” and “extremely sharp”. He predominantly acts for clubs and teams in commercial and contractual disputes, including sponsorship matters.

Ian Lynam at CHARLES RUSSELL SPEECHLYS is a “fantastic sports lawyer” with a “thriving client base” in commercial and corporate governance issues, according to commentators. One says: “Ian continues to be a standout young lawyer. He has grown that practice in a very interesting way and has become a clear leader in the UK.”

At MILLS & REEVE, two practitioners are highlighted.
Carol Couse is widely known for her football work, particularly transfer-related matters, where she is “especially good” according to sources. They add that “she is second-to-none in combining the South American and English markets, thanks in part to her “awesome communication skills”.
Mark Hovell is “one of the best arbitrators” in sports, noted for his technical skills and his “admirable work ethic”. Sources say: “Mark is a gifted think-tank with an ability to articulate issues in a clear and concise manner.”

At CENTREFIELD in Manchester, Matthew Bennett is a “star performer on football club work”, say interviewees. “Technically speaking, he is top-notch”, comments another peer.


Dubbed a “leader in international sports law”, Jean-Jacques Bertrand of BERTRAND & ASSOCIÉ has nearly 45 years of experience in the area and acts for an array of athletes and coaches.


COCCIA DE ANGELIS & ASSOCIATI’s Massimo Coccia is a “top-notch” arbitrator at CAS who is praised as being “super-smart”. One peer comments: “I was impressed by the way he managed our case and his legal reasoning – he’s pretty impressive”.

Luigi Fumagalli of STUDIO PROF. LUIGI FUMAGALLI is another leading CAS arbitrator, with 45 years of experience who is praised for his intelligence and ability to simplify complex disputes.


DE KEMPENAER ADVOCATEN has two practitioners listed.
Manfred Nan is a top name for CAS work, focusing on disciplinary issues in sports. He has handled over 150 arbitrations in the field.
Dennis Koolaard is a rising star described as “the best ad hoc clerk at CAS” by one leading European practitioner.


Joao Nogueira Da Rocha at GLOBAL LAWYERS is considered by one source to be “the most-respected CAS arbitrator around”, with nearly 15 years’ experience in that role.

Rui Botica Santos at COELHO RIBEIRO E ASSOCIADOS is a prominent name in Portugal, with a superb reputation for his sports law work, including as a CAS arbitrator.


Paolo Lombardi at LOMBARDI ASSOCIATES is a top-ranked Scottish sports lawyer with deep expertise in football-related matters, particularly disputes and FIFA disciplinary issues.


RUIZ-HUERTA & CRESPO SPORTS LAWYERS’ Juan de Dios Crespo Pérez is a highly regarded figure in football transfer agreements and related arbitrations. Sources say: “He probably does more football cases in a year than some firms do in a decade.”


“Top-class arbitrator” Michele Bernasconi of BÄR & KARRER is identified as “an expert in international soccer” and “one of the best CAS arbitrators ever!” One peer comments: “Michele is a leader. Very few sports lawyers come close to him when it comes to the ability to break down complex cases into fairly simple and discernible matters. He then crowns it all with great articulation in well-reasoned awards.”

Jorge Ibarrola at LIBRA LAW is noted for his “extensive experience and very good network” in sports, matters, with sources particularly highlighting his “standout football governance knowledge”.
Claude Ramoni is “highly recommended for doping cases” thanks for his “excellent knowledge” of anti-doping and sports governance issues.

TIMES ATTORNEYS boasts two top sports lawyers this year.
Ulrich Haas is a “phenomenal” sports expert who is “one of the top-notch arbitrators at CAS”. Sources add: “He is up there with the crème de la crème of international sports lawyers” due to his ability to “probe matters to the very end”.
Stephan Netzle also stands out as a “first-class sports lawyer” according to impressed peers. He has nearly 30 years of experience in the sports field, including almost 20 spent as a CAS arbitrator.

Ross Wenzel of KELLERHALS CARRARD in Lausanne possesses “outstanding anti-doping knowledge” and is “great in his representation of WADA, IOC and IAAF” among many others.

Alexis Schoeb of SCHOEB AVOCATS is an “up-and-coming” name with a “fine reputation” in sporting matters. He acts for the full range of athletes, governing bodies and clubs.

Other Leading Individuals - Entertainment


Two lawyers are recommended from HAMBACH & HAMBACH.
Wulf Hambach has “superb expertise” in gambling and betting licensing matters and is regularly seen by peers on complex matters.
Claus Hambach is also lauded for his skill in both domestic and international gaming matters.

Standout practitioner Jörg Hofmann of MELCHERS is an international leader in gaming and betting issues, including casino licensing and sports betting.


Joseph Kelly of A&L GOODBODY is a well-regarded expert in leisure and hospitality in addition to gambling and betting, with notable experience in licensing matters.


Internet gaming guru Gil White at HERZOG FOX & NEEMAN in Tel Aviv proficiently represents clients on a full range of corporate and commercial issues, including M&A deals.


Quirino Mancini at TONUCCI & PARTNERS is head of the firm’s gaming and gambling practice. He is well known for his depth of expertise, which covers a range of corporate and contractual issues.

Stefano Sbordoni of SBORDONI & PARTNERS gains nominations from across Europe and is regarded as one of Italy’s leading practitioners in the gambling field, acting for an array of domestic and international betting companies.


Olga Finkel of WH PARTNERS is an expert in IT matters, including e-gaming and e-gambling and brings over 15 years’ experience to complex regulatory and licensing issues.


Justin Franssen is part of a “great team” at KALFF KATZ & FRANSSEN ATTORNEYS. He handles a broad array of gaming issues including regulatory and tax matters.


Sources “have great respect” for Albert Agustinoy Guilayn of CUATRECASAS GONÇALVES PEREIRA, highlighting him as a “top lawyer” in the gaming area.

Santiago Asensi Gisbert of ASENSI ABOGADOS is “highly recommendable”, say sources, pointing to his extraordinary capabilities in both online gambling and traditional gaming issues.


North America

Thought Leaders
1. Richard McLaren Innovative Dispute Resolution Ltd, London, ON
2. Jeffrey Mishkin Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP - New York
3. Bradley Ruskin Proskauer Rose, New York
1. Robert Stocker II Dickinson Wright PLLC, Lansing
2. Jay Cooper Greenberg Traurig LLP, Los Angeles
3. Anthony Cabot Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP, Las Vegas
4. Ron Hay Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond LLP, Toronto
5. Casey Chisick Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Toronto

DENTONS’ Canada team is one of the strongest in North America for entertainment issues. Five practitioners are listed here.
David Steinberg is a “top music lawyer”, according to sources, with extensive experience across the entertainment sector. He is also adept at handling matters relating to film, television and publishing.
Ken Dhaliwal is a standout attorney in entertainment financing matters, across theatre, television and film. Interviewees highlight his “practical approach to problem-solving” as a key strength of his practice.
Jim Russell is also highly regarded for his expertise in the financing of productions, as well as for IP issues, in the entertainment industry.

PROSKAUER ROSE is renowned as a pre-eminent firm for sports work, and is home to some of the highest-regarded US practitioners in the area. Six outstanding names are listed this year.
“Standout name” Bradley Ruskin is head of the firm’s sports practice group and a truly excellent choice for sports litigation. He regularly acts for the major leagues as well as high-profile teams.
Joseph Leccese continues to have a superb reputation” for his representation of sports leagues, particularly in relation to transactional issues.
Fellow corporate practitioner Jon Oram also garners praise for his transactional and financing expertise. He has significant experience acting for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association among others.
“Top practitioner” Wayne Katz is a sports law specialist who has worked on franchise matters in major-league basketball, hockey and American football among others.

SKADDEN ARPS SLATE MEAGHER & FLOM is another well-known name in sports law. Six practitioners are recommended in the following pages.
Thought Leader Jeffrey Mishkin is “extremely well known” in the sports field and is commended as “outstanding – a very smart, and very good litigator” by prominent peers. He is particularly well known for his work in basketball, having been the NBA’s chief in-house, and then subsequently private practice, counsel.

COVINGTON & BURLING completes the triumvirate of dominant firms in US sports law. It also has six practitioners listed.
Peter Zern is a leading name in sports who handles a broad array of matters involving both American and international sports, including acquisitions, financing and governance.
Douglas Gibson stands out for his prowess in the area, according to our sources. He has represented a number of sports leagues and federations in complex commercial matters, including media rights deals.

Three lawyers from CASSELS BROCK & BLACKWELL are highlighted in sports and entertainment this year.
“Copyright expert” Casey Chisick is renowned for his skill in the intersection of entertainment and intellectual property and frequently handles complex issues involving both new and traditional media.
Leonard Glickman is described as “an outstanding lawyer and a credit to the profession” by impressed interviewees, for his IP and sponsorship expertise. Sources also comment favourably his representation of a raft of leading athletes and leagues in several sports.
David Budd is also recommended for his financing work for Canadian professional sports franchises among others.

GOODMANS has four practitioners listed in this edition, three for Entertainment and one for Sports.
David Zitzerman is widely exalted as “one of the leading entertainment lawyers in the country”. Sources point out his “breadth of understanding of industry cycles” and his 25 years of experience as key reasons for his success.
Carolyn Stamegna is “a top film banking lawyer” and “a very fine banking counsel”, according to commentators. She also has significant expertise in IP-related issues.

Six superb entertainment lawyers at GREENBERG TRAURIG make the grade in this year’s edition.
Jay Cooper is described by one peer as “the gold standard in music law”. Others comment: “He is as esteemed as any entertainment lawyer I know in the world. He has a jaw-dropping resumé.”
Las Vegas-based Mark Clayton is a leading figure in gaming law in the US and has substantial experience in the area, having previously worked in-house with three casinos.
Jeffrey Smith has more than 40 years of experience in the entertainment sector and has acted for a number of the world’s biggest names in music on licensing and securities deals.

Four practitioners from SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON are listed.
Shaun Clark is a well-known entertainment lawyer is deservedly recognised for his continuing excellence. He covers the full range of issues relating to advertising, IP and transactional matters, including financing.
Robert Darwell covers an extensive array of TV and film work, including production and distribution issues. In addition, he has deep experience in sports-related matters.
Thomas Glen Leo and Kelly Charles Crabb are highlighted for their wide-ranging expertise in the entertainment, with Crabb also recommended for his understanding of sports law.

Other Leading Individuals – Sports


Richard McLaren of INNOVATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION is a “globally respected authority in sports arbitration and anti-doping and a mentor to young lawyers”, according to impressed peers. He is well known for his high-profile and influential report into alleged doping by Russian athletes prior to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Former head of WADA Richard Pound QC of STIKEMAN ELLIOTT is a “leader in global anti-doping efforts and a leading name in Canadian sports law”. He continues to be an active figure in sports arbitration.


California-based Howard Jacobs of THE LAW OFFICES OF HOWARD L JACOBS is “widely regarded and very capable” particularly in the field of anti-doping, where he represents a number of high-profile sportspeople.

Other Leading Individuals – Entertainment


Two lawyers from DICKINSON WRIGHT are recommended.
Robert Stocker II is an outstanding lawyer for gaming and gambling matters, emerging as the top North American lawyer in our research this year. He has nearly 50 years’ experience in the field and has been influential in legislative changes in the area.
“Senior gaming lawyer” Michael Lipton QC is “highly recommended” for his longstanding experience in the gaming industry in Canada.

The “knowledgeable and practical” Ron Hay at STOHN HAY CAFAZZO DEMBROSKI RICHMOND garners multiple nominations from Canada and worldwide for his stellar practice. Sources comment on his “representation of a number of key producers” in the Canadian market.
Diana Cafazzo also wins plaudits for her work in the entertainment sector, representing a number of leading names in film, television and music.


Thought Leader Anthony Cabot at LEWIS ROCA ROTHGERBER CHRISTIE comes highly recommended by sources for his gaming expertise, and is one of the best in the country in that area.

The superb Kelly Duncan of JONES WALKER is cited by clients for his “full knowledge of Louisiana gaming law, his professional contacts with agency regulators and his immediate responses to our needs”.

Nicholas Casiello at FOX ROTHSCHILD has vast experience in the gaming space, with over 30 years of experience covering matters in numerous US states and worldwide.

John Maloney of THE LAW OFFICES OF JOHN K MALONEY is a domestic and international gaming regulatory guru, with three decades of experience in gambling law.

Sources call Mike Milom at MILOM HORSNELL CROW ROSE KELLEY “one of the best Nashville music lawyer”. “His skill-set is second-to-none” says another peer, adding “Mike is the great eminence of entertainment lawyers in Nashville and nationally.”

“Outstanding litigator” Timothy Warnock of RILEY WARNOCK & JACOBSON is another leading name in the Nashville entertainment market. Sources praise his “exceptional technical proficiency” and laud him as “able to be both detail-minded and big-picture” in his approach.

Rest of the World

Thought Leaders
1. Marcos Motta Bichara e Motta Advogados, Rio de Janeiro
2. Daniel Cravo Souza Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP - New York
3. Ariel Reck Reck Sports Law, Buenos Aires
4. Pedro Fida Bichara e Motta Advogados, Rio de Janeiro
1. Jamie Nettleton Addisons Lawyers, Sydney
2. Tim Golder Allens, Melbourne

BICHARA E MOTTA ADVOGADOS boasts an exceptional and deserved reputation for its work in South American and international sports. It recently acted for footballer Neymar Jr in his record-breaking €225 million transfer from FC Barcelona to Paris St-Germain. Three outstanding practitioners are listed.
"Extraordinary lawyer" Marcos Motta is described as a "top operator" and "the best sports lawyer in Brazil" by various interviewees. He has some 20 years of experience working in football and has appeared in more than 400 cases before CAS and FIFA.
Pedro Fida is a “really sophisticated lawyer” who is “very busy in the football market”. One commentator declares themselves “very impressed by his way of managing the case and the level of clarity of the instructions he sends”.
Bichara Abidao Neto acts for a wide variety of athletes, governing bodies and agents and has a strong global reputation for his work in the sports arena.

Other Leading Individuals - Sports


Ariel Reck of RECK SPORTS LAW is the top-rated Argentinian sports lawyer in our research this year. Sources call him a "fantastic lawyer and an awesome communicator".


Daniel Cravo Souza at CRAVO PASTL AND BALBUENA ADVOGADOS ASSOCIADOS is a regularly sighted figure at CAS and is regarded as an “excellent lawyer who is very active working for football clubs”.

Breno Costa  Ramos Tannuri of TANNURI RIBEIRO ADVOGADOS is an “outstanding advocate” who is highly regarded for his representation of football agents in major transactions worldwide.


“Excellent operator” David Wu at BOSS & YOUNG ATTORNEYS AT LAW “has great experience assisting clubs and agents” in football in relation to complex issues, and is also well known for his work as a CAS arbitrator.


In Mexico City, Ricardo De Buen Rodríguez of DE BUEN RODRÍGUEZ ABOGADOS is considered “a go-to lawyer” for sports law. He has vast experience in Olympics-related matters in particular.

Other Leading Individuals – Entertainment


Jamie Nettleton of ADDISONS is regarded as the “go-to guy in Australia” for gambling and media law. He acts for a wide range of gambling operators including casinos and gaming machine manufacturers.

Tim Golder at ALLENS is a “fantastic inclusion on the list” according to peers, who add “I have trusted Tim for years with entertainment matters.” He primarily undertakes IP work, including trademarks, copyright and design rights.

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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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