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31 July 2012

Olympics fire starting gun on law firm feeding frenzy

Freshfields bagged the top slot, but other practices of all sizes are also hovering around the park

Olympic Park: Can't move for all the lawyers

Magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer claimed the right to be the official provider of legal services to the organisers of London’s Olympic Games three years ago, but that hasn’t stopped a host of international law firms from making their presence felt at this summer’s games.
Freshfields won a tender process to advise the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) but, reports the Am Law Daily web site, there have been plenty of opportunities for others to get involved.
Anglo-US firm DLA Piper and English practices Mishcon de Reya and Charles Russell are among a 17-firm pro bono panel serving the Olympics. Charles Russell also advised Irish bookmaker Paddy Power on its ambush marketing dispute with LOCOG last week.

Arbitration panel

An ad-hoc Court of Arbitration for Sport panel is also in place to adjudicate disputes as and when they appear during the games. It includes lawyers from Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Sweden, and the US.
Some firms have also taken the opportunity to sponsor athletes, with global player Eversheds particularly involved. Meanwhile, Montreal-based Lavery de Billy is heavily backing Canadian diver Alexandre Despatie.
London-based Eversheds, along with Anglo-Scottish firm HBJ Gately Wareing and England’s Trowers & Hamlins, are also advising clients that are interested in ultimately taking over the Olympic Stadium once the curtain falls on the games’ closing ceremony. And London-based Nabarro has been selected by the English Sports Council to play a key role in a redevelopment project for the Olympic Park.

Dewey influence

The influence of recently bust New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf has also been felt in London. Jeffrey Kessler, the firm’s former global litigation practice chairman, advised South African Caster Semenya in a gender test controversy that threatened her career; the lawyer also advised Oscar Pistorius – a double amputee known as the ‘bladerunner’ – on his attempts to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Although he no longer represents Ms Semanya – South Africa’s flag bearer -- Mr Kessler has confirmed he will be at the London Olympics after he promised Mr Pistorius he would see him race in person if he ever qualified for the Olympics.
On hearing that Mr Pistorius secured qualification – a result that came directly from Dewey’s efforts to allow the sprinter to compete against able-bodied athletes – Mr Kessler said: ‘It is an extremely proud moment for all disabled athletes, and a very moving moment for me.’

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