Sports and Entertainment 2018: Analysis

This year’s research shines a spotlight on the leading sports and entertainment lawyers in the international marketplace, highlighting 281 and 236 top names respectively. The individuals listed here have come highly recommended by peers and clients alike for their expert advice to individuals, corporates and industry associations.

Methodology

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

EMEA

Global Elite Thought Leaders
Sports
1. Michele Bernasconi Bär & Karrer Ltd, Zurich
2. Mike Morgan Morgan Sports Law, London
3. Carol Couse Mills & Reeve, Manchester
4. Jonathan Taylor QC Bird & Bird LLP, London
5. Adam Lewis QC Blackstone Chambers, London
6. Antonio Rigozzi Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler, Geneva
7. Lucas Ferrer Pinto-Ruiz & Del Valle, Barcelona
8. Ulrich Haas Times Attorneys, Zurich
9. Mark Hovell Mills & Reeve, Manchester
10. Ross Wenzel Kellerhals Carrard CIG, Lausanne
Entertainment
1. Jörg Hofmann Melchers, Heidelberg
2. Quirino Mancini Tonucci & Partners, Rome
3. Joe Kelly A&L Goodbody, Dublin
4. David Zeffman CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, London
5. Gil White Herzog Fox & Neeman, Tel Aviv

Leading Firms

Blackstone Chambers

This set remains strong in the sports and entertainment space. It achieves a total of 21 listings, 12 of which came stem from its sports practice.
Adam Lewis QC is a highly regarded sports lawyer who widely endorsed as “a leader of the field”. He has strong experience in administrative and EU law and peers say, “He is certainly one of the best lawyers before the CAS.”
Michael Beloff QC stands out as “one of the greats” in sports law. He enjoys an excellent reputation for his vast experience before courts and tribunals, with clients stating, “He is in a class of his own.”
Nick De Marco QC “is really making waves in sports law”, observe market commentators, who speak highly of his “very strong football work” encompassing an array of commercial and regulatory matters.
Kate Gallafent QC impresses peers with her “incredibly sharp mind” and strong regulatory knowledge. She is a prominent expert in child safeguarding matters and stands out for her exceptional work in the space.

Bird & Bird

This firm achieves eight listings across the two chapters.
Jonathan Taylor QC is an eminent sports lawyer who stands out for his “outstanding sports and drug regulatory practice”. Peers describe him as “a heavyweight litigator” and he is regularly called on to advise on matters of the utmost complexity or importance.
Martin Schimke boasts “vast experience as a CAS arbitrator” and stands out for his “sharp and pragmatic” opinions. Clients speak highly of his “extensive knowledge of the legal and political environment of German and international sports matters”.

Mills & Reeve

This commercial law firm achieves three listings in the sports section.
Carol Couse is a leading name in the field who comes highly recommended for “her extensive experience and pragmatic sports advice”. She has expertise in football in particular and draws on a wealth of in-house and private practice experience.
Mark Hovell is highlighted as “a top lawyer and CAS arbitrator”, by peers, who also speak highly of his work in FA disputes. His broad experience includes restructuring sports clubs and he is regarded as a trusted representative to sporting associations, individuals and clubs.
Tiran Gunawardena is an expert in international sports arbitration and comes highly recommended as “an extremely well-qualified and competent sports lawyer” by clients.

Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler

This premier Swiss firm achieves four listings.
Antonio Rigozzi “is without doubt one of the leading sports law practitioners in Switzerland”, say peers, who speak highly of his “excellent technical skills” and vast experience in FIFA and CAS proceedings.
Brianna Quinn is “a top sports lawyer” whose “knowledge in doping cases is unique”. She advises clubs, agents and players and “is always up to date on case law”.

Kellerhals Carrard

This firm is a strong presence in Switzerland and achieves three listings in this year’s research.
Ross Wenzel “is second to none in anti-doping cases”, say peers, who comment further, “He knows the case law by heart, is pragmatic, constantly delivers high-quality submissions and is persuasive in the courtroom.”
Jean-Pierre Morand draws praise as a lawyer who “is very knowledgeable in the field and great to work with”. He advises major industry players and stands out for doing “great work for federations in anti-doping cases”.
François Carrard is a distinguished practitioner and long-standing fixture in the Swiss market. He is held in very high regard by peers who highly recommend him for his stellar arbitration practice.

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang

This full-service international law firm achieves six listings in the region.
David Zeffman is endorsed as a “very sharp” practitioner for his expertise in both sports and entertainment matters in the media sector. He is “a highly respected specialist in sports broadcasting” and stands out for his involvement in “record-breaking deals”.
John Enser is widely regarded as a “very bright” practitioner with a strong media practice. He is a long-standing fixture in the market and is well known for his “outstanding work”.

Other Leading Individuals

Belgium

Benoît Keane at Keane Legal is a leading sports lawyer in Belgium. Market commentators say, “Benoît brings huge authority to any matter and is a true expert in the application of competition law to sport.” Clients add, “He is not afraid to take a position and is extremely user-friendly. He is always our first choice.”

England

Northridge Law is home to three highly regarded sports lawyers.
Ian Lynam is widely regarded as “a top lawyer” who impresses peers with his “immense network” of contacts and his “hands-on approach” to commercial and regulatory matters.
Jonathan Ellis stands out as “a very strong regulatory lawyer” who also possesses a strong disputes practice. He advises the FA and major sports clubs and enjoys an excellent reputation for his work in the space.
James Eighteen comes highly recommended as a “fantastic” sports lawyer with broad expertise in commercial disputes and governance matters.

Harris Hagan specialises in the gambling and leisure industries and achieves three listings.
Julian Harris is a highly regarded expert in gambling law and is regularly engaged to advise regulators and international operators in major cases. With vast experience and deep industry knowledge, he stands out as “a super attorney” in the London market, according to interviewees.
John Hagan comes “highly recommended” for his extensive experience in gambling law. He represents a range of clients and is regularly engaged to advise on complex licencing and regulatory matters. 
Hilary Stewart-Jones is held in high esteem as “the go-to gaming person” in the market and someone who is “strongly recommended” for her experience in the entertainment sector.

Mike Morgan, founder of Morgan Sports Law, is a pre-eminent sports lawyer in the UK, who stands out for “his unrivalled expertise in defending athletes in doping cases”. Commentators add, “He is thorough, analytical and persuasive in hearings.”

At Onside Law, Jamie Singer has a strong commercial practice encompassing sponsorship, hosting and media rights matters. “He is a real ally in difficult negotiations,” say clients, who praise his “diligence, high attention to detail and excellent industry knowledge”. 

Squire Patton Boggs’ Stephen Sampson is a prominent figure who impresses peers with his “strong practice” and “extensive experience” in sports law. He is regularly engaged to advise on disputes as well as commercial and regulatory matters.

At Wiggin, Stephen Ketteley specialises in commercial and regulatory matters in the entertainment sector and is “very well regarded in the gambling industry”.

At Mishcon de Reya, Nick Nocton gains “very strong recommendations” from peers, who elevate him for his strong practice in the entertainment industry. He boasts extensive commercial and regulatory knowledge and vast experience in gambling and gaming matters. 

Daniel Lowen at Level is “strong in intermediaries work”, according to peers, who praise his football-related expertise in particular. He handles a range of contentious and non-contentious issues in the field.

Germany

Munich-based firm Martens Rechtsanwälte achieves two listings in the sports section.
Dirk-Reiner Martens is endorsed as “an excellent arbitrator” who is well known for his broad expertise in international arbitration and his deep knowledge of basketball disputes in particular.
Christian Keidel is a leading sports practitioner in Germany who draws praise for “his excellent work” as well as his “consciousness of the needs of an international organisation”.

Jörg Hofmann is head of the gaming and betting group at Melchers. He is a prominent entertainment lawyer in and stands out as an “excellent practitioner” in the international marketplace, according to impressed sources.

Ireland

Joe Kelly is a prominent name at A&L Goodbody who is well known for his strong gaming and betting licensing practice. He is noted as a go-to adviser to major clients and boasts a strong dispute-resolution and investigative practice.

Israel

At Herzog Fox & Neeman, Gil White has a strong licensing and regulatory practice and receives “the highest recommendation” from market commentators. He emerges as a Global Elite Thought Leader for his gaming and gambling work in this year’s edition.

Italy

Paolo Lombardi of Lombardi Associates is a leading practitioner in the Italian market. With experience working in house at FIFA, he enjoys an excellent reputation for his extensive expertise in football disputes.

Luigi Fumagalli of Studio Prof. Luigi Fumagalli draws praise as “a very experienced, thorough and responsive” practitioner with superb knowledge of sports law and international arbitration. 

At Tonucci & Partners, Quirino Mancini leads the gaming and gambling group and enjoys an excellent reputation for his work in the space. He has a strong international practice and is regulatory engaged to advise domestic and foreign companies on commercial and regulatory matters.

Stefano Sbordoni of Sbordoni Studio Legale receives wide-ranging endorsements for his deep knowledge of gambling and betting law and for the sophisticated advice he provides to major operators.

Malta

At WH Partners, founding partner Olga Finkel stands out for her vast experience in gambling law, providing high-quality advice on strategic and commercial matters.

Netherlands

Justin Franssen leads the gaming practice at Kalff Katz & Franssen Attorneys and comes highly recommended for his expert advice on transactions and disputes.

Spain

Two highly regarded sports lawyers from Pinto-Ruiz & Del Valle are listed here.
José Juan Pintó Sala is a “top-notch” CAS arbitrator who stands out as “one of the most experienced and very best lawyers” in the market.
Lucas Ferrer’s “excellent legal skills make him stand out in this field”, say peers, who describe him as “one of the best sports lawyers worldwide”. He has exceptional experience in sports arbitration, having participated in hundreds of CAS cases.

Ruiz-Huerta & Crespo Sports Lawyers’ Juan de Dios Crespo Pérez is endorsed as a “top lawyer” in Spain by sources and wins plaudits for his high-quality work in transfer agreements and arbitrations.

Switzerland

Bär & Karrer’s Michele Bernasconi is a pre-eminent sports lawyer who stands out as “the number-one lawyer for regulatory, commercial and arbitration matters”. Clients say, “Michele gets to the key issues immediately and delivers expert judgements every time. His greatest strength is his ability to find the right outcome and help parties settle their differences.”

Sports and media specialist Kleiner & Cavaliero achieves two listings in this year’s publication.
Jan Kleiner is “a leader in sports law” who “knows Swiss law as applied to sports in an incredible way”. Peers say, “If you are looking for an exception to the rule he probably knows it or he can find it.”
Marc Cavaliero draws praise as “a practical, fierce lawyer like no other”. Peers speak highly of “his vast experience in disciplinary cases and CAS procedures” and he is described by one peer as “my go-to guy in Switzerland”.

Times Attorneys sees two prominent lawyers listed here.
Ulrich Haas “is absolutely one of the best sports lawyers in the world”, say market commentators, who add, “He is highly respected for his knowledge and expertise in a range of sports law topics.”
Stephan Netzle is known for “providing first-class advice to federations”. He has a strong anti-doping practice and is a highly regarded CAS arbitrator.

Libra Law achieves two listings in the sports category.
Jorge Ibarrola comes highly recommended by peers and clients alike for his superb expertise in sports law and is commended for his “very good football and governance knowledge”.
Claude Ramoni boasts a broad sports practice advising clients on a range of commercial matters. Peers particularly speak highly of his expertise in anti-doping cases.

Alexis Schoeb of Schoeb Baumgartner Attorneys at law is one of Geneva's top names in sports law, with a strong track record as an arbitrator and counsel on an array of complex disputes in the area.

North America

Global Elite Thought Leaders
Sports
1. Richard McLaren Innovative Dispute Resolution Ltd, London, ON
2. Jeffrey Mishkin Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, New York
3. Paul Greene Global Sports Advocates, Portland
4. Howard L Jacobs The Law Offices of Howard L Jacobs, Westlake Village
5. Wayne D Katz Proskauer Rose, New York
Entertainment
1. Michael D Lipton QC Dickinson Wright LLP, Toronto
2. Mark A Clayton Greenberg Traurig LLP, Las Vegas
3. Nicholas Casiello Jr Fox Rothschild LLP, Atlantic City
4. Casey M Chisick Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Toronto

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

With nine listings, this firm is leading player in the sports and entertainment space. 
Jeffrey Mishkin is celebrated as “one of the leading lights of sports law” and stands out for his broad practice that spans a range of sports. As former chief legal officer of the NBA, he boasts specialist expertise in basketball-related cases.
Richard Pound QC draws praise as “a dean of Canadian sports law” and is known for his experience in complex litigation and sports arbitration. Peers hold him in high esteem as “a global leader in anti-doping cases”.
Anthony Dreyer is a prominent figure at Skadden who stands out for his first-rate IP and copyright practice and is regularly engaged to advise major sports associations, including the NFL.

Proskauer Rose

This firm achieves six listings here.
Wayne Katz is widely endorsed as an “outstanding” sports lawyer with a strong corporate practice encompassing team ownership transfers and financing. He is a go-to lawyer for high-value transactions and a trusted adviser to the NBA.
Jon Oram is a highly regarded practitioner who is regularly engaged to advise major sports associations and leagues on major transactions and negotiations.
Bradley Ruskin stands out as “a great lawyer and litigator” in the US. He co-chairs the sports practice at the firm and peers say he is “a pleasure to work with”.

Dentons

Five lawyers from this global heavyweight firm are listed here.
Bob Tarantino is an esteemed entertainment lawyer who comes highly recommended for his excellent copyright practice and strong contract-drafting abilities. Peers describe him as “a lawyer’s lawyer” and speak highly of his sophisticated knowledge in the space.
David Steinberg is a prominent figure in Toronto, who draws wide-ranging endorsements for his expertise in media and entertainment and specialist knowledge of the music industry.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell

Seven lawyers from this eminent Canadian law firm are listed here.
Jason Bullen is an esteemed sports lawyer who impresses peers and clients alike with his “exceptional understanding of the industry on a global scale” as well as his “very impressive attention to detail”.
Casey Chisick boasts sophisticated knowledge of copyright law and is regularly engaged to advise major entertainment-industry clients on high-profile transactions and in business-critical IP matters.

Covington & Burling

Seven lawyers from this commercial law firm are listed here.
The “excellent” Peter Zern comes highly recommended for his first-rate transactional practice and boasts vast experience advising sports clients on complex M&A transactions and equity financing matters.
Douglas Gibson is an esteemed sports lawyer who is regularly engaged to advise major leagues and sports associations on strategic transactions and financing matters.

Greenberg Traurig

This firm sees eight listings in this year’s research.
Mark Clayton draws praise as “a highly regarded and extremely knowledgeable” lawyer for his deep expertise in the gaming industry. He has a strong regulatory practice and is a trusted adviser in the industry.
Jay Cooper is a high-profile entertainment lawyer who is “one of the most esteemed practitioners in the US”. He boasts extensive experience in the music industry and is a go-to lawyer to individuals and companies alike.

Other Leading Individuals

Canada

Goodmans achieves five listings in the region. 
David Zitzerman is a highly regarded entertainment lawyer who receives wide-ranging endorsements for his deep industry expertise and experience in film and television.
Carolyn Stamegna is an expert in structured finance transactions and banking matters and is a go-to adviser among media clients and financial institutions.

Richard McLaren, founder of Innovative Dispute Resolution Ltd, is a revered practitioner who is regarded as “a global leader” in the sports industry. He is celebrated as “one of the most highly sought-after lawyers in investigators in sport” and boasts phenomenal expertise in anti-doping cases.

Dale Lastman CM is a standout name at Goodmans and has a strong commercial practice. Peers describe him as “a leading sports lawyer” who is “very well connected” within the industry.

In Toronto, independent practitioner Gordon Kirke QC stands out as “a trailblazer in Canadian sports law with a strong reputation in arbitration and mediation” who is “recommended for his general sports expertise”.

Stephen Zolf of Aird & Berlis has a strong media practice and is regularly engaged to advise on complex regulatory issues and foreign investment matters.

At Dickinson Wright, Michael Lipton QC stands out as an “excellent” practitioner who boasts deep knowledge of the gaming industry. Peers would “always recommend him” for advice on regulatory matters and disputes.

USA

DLA Piper achieves two listings in the US.
The “excellent” Peter White is an experienced commercial lawyer with vast experience advising major leagues in large transactions and financing matters.
Mark Whitaker draws praise as a “superb” sports lawyer who comes highly recommended for providing sophisticated corporate advice to large sports associations and major league clients.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck sees two lawyers listed here.
Paul O'Gara stands out as “a very knowledgeable” lawyer in the entertainment industry. He is known for his deep expertise in the gaming industry and for his sophisticated advice to casinos, investors and financial institutions. 
Frank Schreck is a senior and “very highly regarded” figure in the market. He boasts 40 years’ experience advising on licensing and compliance and is a go-to lawyer for gaming advice.

Paul Greene, founder of Global Sports Advocates, is “in a class of his own”, say market commentators, who speak highly of “his unique ability to quickly get to the heart of the legal issue and provide the right perspective on the matter”.

Howard Jacobs of The Law Offices of Howard L Jacobs represents athletes in sensitive disputes and comes highly regarded for his “excellent” work on anti-doping matters. He emerges as one of the top names in the USA, according to our research.

Mark Levinstein is “a very prominent” practitioner at Williams & Connolly who draws praise as “one of the top practitioners” in sports. He has extensive expertise in litigation and crisis management.

John Maloney, principal attorney at The Law Offices of John K Maloney, receives wide-ranging recommendations from peers, who describe him as “a highly regarded and very knowledgeable lawyer” in gaming regulatory matters.

Nicholas Casiello Jr is a “very strong practitioner” at Fox Rothschild who is widely endorsed as “a vested authority” in gaming law licensing, compliance and investigations.

Kelly Duncan is a leading light at Jones Walker, known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of gaming law. He is regularly engaged to engage casino companies and gaming operators and is a trusted adviser to numerous leading industry players.  

 

Latin America

Global Elite Thought Leaders
Sports
1. Marcos Motta Bichara e Motta Advogados, São Paulo
2. Antonio Quintero Carrero & Quintero Abogados, Caracas
3. Ariel Reck Reck Sports Law, Buenos Aires

Bichara e Motta Advogados 

This Brazilian firm achieves three listings in this year’s research.
Marcos Motta impresses peers with his “huge experience and knowledge” of international sports law and is well known as a go-to adviser to “an impressive portfolio of clients”. He advises in FIFA and CAS matters concerning doping disputes, contracts and regulatory matters and is also regularly engaged in major transactions.
Bichara Abidao Neto comes highly regarded by peers and clients alike, who speak highly of his excellent sports practice.  He is regularly engaged in CAS arbitrations and is a trusted adviser to athletes, agents and associations.  
Stefano Malvestio stands out as “a very talented sports lawyer” for his “extensive experience in complex legal situations as well as his superb understanding of the South American and European sports law markets”.

Argentina

At Reck Sports Law, Ariel Reck stands out as “a very experienced lawyer” with an impressive reputation for his work in CAS cases. Peers say, “Ariel always tries to solve an issue first by negotiation. If that does not work, prepare for a fierce battle.”

Brazil

At Cravo Pastl and Balbuena Advogados Associados, the “excellent” Daniel Cravo Souza draws praise for his first-rate CAS practice and comes highly recommended as a go-to adviser to major football clubs.

Mexico

Alfredo Lazcano Sámano is a prominent entertainment lawyer at Lazcano Sámano. He has a strong commercial practice and is a highly regarded practitioner in the Mexican market.  

Peru

Carlos Fonseca Sarmiento of Varela & Fonseca Abogados enjoys an excellent reputation in the international marketplace and boasts strong expertise in gaming.  

Venezuela

Antonio Quintero of Carrero & Quintero Abogados is highlighted as “one of the most influential lawyers in South American anti-doping matters” by peers. He has a strong litigation practice and clients speak highly of his “excellent arguments in oral presentations”. They add, “He is a fierce fighter until the end.”

 

Asia-Pacific

Global Elite Thought Leaders
Sports
1. Tim Golder Allens, Melbourne
2. Maria Clarke Maria Clarke Lawyers, Auckland
Entertainment
1. Jamie Nettleton Addisons Lawyers, Sydney
2. Tim Golder Allens, Melbourne

Australia

At Allens, Tim Golder provides sophisticated IP advice to clients in the sports and entertainment sectors. Peers say, “Tim is truly a dean of the Australian trademark bar. He is a premier litigator and provides practical counselling and advice.”

Addisons Lawyers’ Jamie Nettleton stands out as “the best-known gambling lawyer in Australia”. He advises on corporate and regulatory matters and “gets great reviews from clients”.

China

At Llinks Law Offices in Shanghai, David Wu stands out for his “great CAS experience” and sophisticated knowledge of sports law in China.

New Zealand

At Anthony Harper, Mark Gavin impresses peers with his deep knowledge of trademark law and is a trusted adviser to clients from the advertising industry.

Maria Clarke, principal of boutique sports firm Maria Clarke Lawyers, impresses peers with her “structured and measured approach” to complex cases. Peers describe her as “a long-standing expert” in the field and she comes highly recommended for her experience in IAAF reviews.

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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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