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Top sports lawyers Chuck Baker, Irwin Raij join Sidley Austin LLP

By Chris Smith

CHUCK BAKER and IRWIN RAIJ have joined global law firm Sidley Austin LLP as partners in and co-chairs of its newly expanded Entertainment, Sports & Media group. Baker and Raij previously co-chaired O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s sports practice, which was named to SBJ’s Power Players: Outside Counsel in October. Baker said the move to Sidley will provide the duo greater scale of operations and support. “They have over 2,000 lawyers globally and over 250 just in Europe, where I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of activity,” said Baker. “So the ability for us to build what we do to an even bigger level is really exciting for us.” Raij echoed the sentiment, pointing to Sidley’s strong track record in areas like private equity and real estate, and highlighted the firm’s global reach. “The geographic footprint is really exciting for us, both in the United States and internationally,” said Raij. “Part of my practice is stadium development and ancillary development around stadiums, and having a bigger footprint should be helpful in many respects.”

FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER THE INDUSTRY: Both lawyers have advised on transactions across nearly all major pro sports leagues. Baker’s practice has largely focused on team mergers and acquisitions, including buy-side representation for TODD BOEHLY’s minority investment in the Lakers, DAVID TEPPER’s purchase of the NFL Panthers and minority stake transactions made by PE firm Arctos Sports Partners. Raij’s stadium work has included leading the state of New York’s negotiations with the Bills, and he has advised on sales of the Dodgers, MLB Rangers and Bucks. Beyond team M&A, O’Melveny recently advised on Genius Sports’ acquisition of Second Spectrum and its exclusive data rights deal with the NFL. Though Sidley is not a stranger to sports transactions -- the firm provided sell-side representation for the '20 sale of a stake in the Titans and is currently representing Clearlake Capital in the ongoing sale of Chelsea FC -- Baker and Raij’s arrival will greatly expand its reach throughout the industry. Both lawyers declined to comment about which, if any, clients will follow them to Sidley. “It’s been really busy the last couple of years, and I expect that we’ll be just as busy, if not busier, as we shift to the new platform,” said Raij. Raij and Baker have both been at O’Melveny since '17. Raij will be located in Miami, and Baker will split his time between Miami and N.Y.

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