Sports and entertainment aren’t just fun and games—they are big business, and require sophisticated legal counsel knowledgeable about their industry’s business needs.
Our team represents current and former professional athletes, pro teams and their executives, musicians (from country to hip-hop), film/television actors and celebrity entertainers, social media influencers, race teams and drivers, major college athletics programs, and major event organizers/promoters in a full range of legal services. Often, these matters take place under great public scrutiny, meaning law firms representing athletes and entertainers must be sensitive to this added complication. Clients trust Womble Bond Dickinson to represent them zealously, yet discretely.
Our multi-disciplinary team includes a former NFL player who currently serves on the board of directors for the Charlotte chapter of the NFLPA’s retired players division.
Our specific services to sports and entertainment clients include:
Working with athletes, entertainers, teams and other sports and entertainment clients on a wide range of contracts and agreements needed to conduct their current and future business ventures. Our experience includes representing clients in negotiating and drafting entertainment performance, endorsement, marketing, production, guest feature, licensing, collaboration, non-disclosure, employment and other types of agreements.
Providing guidance and assistance preparing documentation related to entity formation, governance and legal compliance. Once established, we guide individuals and companies on all aspects of day-to-day business, often serving as “Outside General Counsel” to our sports and entertainment clients. Our experience also includes helping clients with strategic and business transition planning.
Investments & Financing
Managing all facets of transactions and preparation of any and all documentation needed to make initial and realized investments in various industries, including extensive experience in the sports and entertainment sectors. In addition, we help clients identify appropriate business opportunities, conduct diligence and secure necessary funding.
Guiding sports and entertainment clients to establish, protect and monetize copyrights and trademarks (including brand, name and likeness marks), both in the U.S. and around the world.
Litigation and Dispute Resolution
Defending clients’ rights in a wide range of state and federal disputes, including general commercial, contractual, trademark/copyright, employment, and construction/real estate litigation and government investigations. Our team also is experienced in arbitration and mediation.
Internal Investigations and Criminal Representation
Some of the most high-profile and confidential matters involve investigations into potential wrongdoing or the defense of criminal accusations. Our experienced team can guide individuals and entities through the myriad of challenges these issues create including public relations guidance.
Helping entertainment and sports companies manage staff and contractors, focusing on avoiding compliance problems. Should a problem arise, team members are highly experienced in resolving employment disputes, with an eye on avoiding negative publicity. We also are working with higher education clients in the emerging area of college athlete compensation.
Tax, Trusts and Estates Law
Advising companies on legal and business strategies involving the complex array of local, state and national taxes that sports and entertainment clients (including touring acts) need. Team members also represent clients in audits and disputes with the IRS and state taxing authorities, and counsel clients in estate planning and the transfer of wealth.
- Managed global trademark portfolio of sports apparel company and played central role in the multi-million-dollar sale of its IP assets.
- Negotiated multiple product license agreements for well-known celebrity, including extensive negotiation about IP rights, personal name and likeness rights, use in advertising, and personal appearances.
- Assisted various prominent professional athletes and recording artists in all facets of business investments, including a bid to purchase a NBA franchise.
- Served as counsel to Chapter 11 debtors in possession in a sports media case in the Southern District of New York.
- Conducted numerous hazing investigations of university and college students and organizations, including those involving athletic teams.
- Served as legal counsel to NASCAR team owners, drivers and track owners for nearly three decades providing advice on business, tax, aviation and motorsports matters.
- Oversaw initial and realized investments for a sports and entertainment centric private equity fund managing multi-million-dollar in assets.
- Represented musicians, entertainers, and current and former professional athletes in a variety of litigation-related matters, including civil litigation and administrative investigations.
- Represented front-office personnel in internal investigations conducted by professional sports leagues.
- Represent coaches and athletes in contract negotiation and litigation matters.
- Represented athletes and entertainers in defamation actions, criminal investigations and criminal allegations. Provided guidance and witness preparation when served with subpoenas.
- Conducted internal investigations into allegations of misconduct and fraud on behalf of various athletic programs and professional sports teams.
- Litigated trademark dispute on behalf of music rhythm video game company.