Prominent antitrust attorneys David Boies and Michael Hausfeld are teaming up to form an international practice group designed to primarily represent the rights of pro athletes.
According to Hausfeld, the practice could help athletes on issues such as their rights to international use of their names and likenesses; their ability to maximize licensing compensation; their flexibility to move to different teams in different countries; and their responses to controversies, such as the current one facing Los Angeles Clippers players over the alleged racist comments by Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
“There is an entirely new world of athletes' rights and/or athletes' concerns which would be better served if there's an entity they could come to that would answer their questions on a diversity of subjects,” Hausfeld said. “It will be a full service for the athletes in all aspects they would want.”
Hausfeld's firm, Hausfeld LLP, is the lead firm for the Ed O'Bannon plaintiffs in their ongoing case against the NCAA over the use of college athletes' names, images and likenesses. Hausfeld has represented a wide range of class-action plaintiffs in the U.S. and internationally.
Boies is one of the most prominent litigators in the country and best known as Al Gore's lawyer during the 2000 election Florida vote count. Boies' firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, is one of several firms assisting the O'Bannon plaintiffs.
Boies and Hausfeld have been involved in NFL court cases through the years. They have worked together in antitrust litigation against Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“Bringing together the legal talents and tested experience of both firms creates a formidable group well positioned to assist professional athletes in managing important legal challenges and taking on opportunities,” Boies said in a statement.
Hausfeld said the practice is not limited to professional athletes and could also represent college athletes from both genders.
Last fall, Winston and Strawn LLP, led by prominent sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler, announced what he called the first law division at a major firm focused on representing college athletes. Kessler, who helped bring free agency to the NFL, is essentially seeking college free agency through a lawsuit filed last month against the NCAA and its five major conferences.
When asked if he views Kessler as a competitor in representing athletes' rights, Hausfeld replied, “I'm not sure who's in competition with whom. We've seen this market with regards to college athletes for a long time. What we're saying is there's also a void with the professional athletes. Trends in court decisions are looking differently at antitrust and labor law as well as internationalization.”
The firms' U.S. and international offices will be available for pro athletes. Hausfeld LLP is headquartered in Washington D.C. and has offices in Philadelphia, San Francisco and London. Boies, Schiller & Flexner has offices in California, Florida, New York, New Hampshire, Nevada, Washington and the United Kingdom.
“It's no secret Jay-Z has moved from the entertainment world to the athletic world (as a sports agent),” Hausfeld said. “We believe there are synergies and we would like to develop those relationships to maximize the benefits of the athletes and the entertainment industry. David and I are the only ones out there who see the international possibilities and the entertainment possibilities.”