18 January 2018

Charles Russell brings top sports boutique on board

Charles Russell Speechlys and Couchmans join forces to create what they claim is a new model for legal services in sport.

Charles Russell Speechlys has moved to beef up its sports practice with a merger after four top partners left last year to set up a rival sports boutique. The firm is bringing Couchmans on board next week. The addition of top-rated Couchmans brings an 11 strong team to the firm - advising a range of clients in the sports, media, technology and lifestyle sectors around the world. It was founded in 2001 by Nic Couchman, who will become head of sport at Charles Russell Speechlys.The arrival of the Couchmans team coincides with the appointment of Darren Bailey as a consultant. Darren was previously Director of Football Governance and Regulation at The FA, and is a leading expert in sports law, integrity and regulation.

Innovative step

James Carter, managing partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, says: 'We are delighted to join forces with Couchmans. Charles Russell Speechlys has been at the forefront of providing legal advice to the sports sector for over 100 years and has acted in many of the leading cases and projects that have helped to shape what is now known as sports law. The addition of the market leading Couchmans team is a bold and innovative step forward for both firms and creates what we believe will quickly become the pre-eminent international sports sector legal practice.We firmly believe that through this combination, we will stay at the cutting edge of the sports business as it becomes increasingly global. Clients will have access to a commercially orientated, sector specialist service on a full service international platform, but will continue to benefit from the personal attention that is the hallmark of both firms.'

CSR partners set up Northridge 

The merger follows the departure last year of four partners from the Charles Russell sports team to set up sports boutique Northridge. The CSR team, Jonathan Ellis, Ian Lynam, Jon Walters and James Eighteen, formed Northridge last year with 16 fee-earners.The partners represented an impressive pre-existing portfolio of clients including The Football Association (FA), leading Premier League football clubs, the Welsh Rugby Union and Premiership Rugby as well as football stars Dele Alli, Cesc Fabregas, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on their books. 

Level Law

Another new entry to the fray is Level Law, a boutique London sports and entertainment law practice which has converted to an alternative business structure (ABS) just three months after launching itself. Level Law was set up by four prominent sports lawyers in October, who represented sports stars from retired Olympic champion Usain Bolt, Tour de France winner Chris Froome to heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua. Dan Lowen, formerly a partner at Couchmans, launched the firm with fellow senior Couchmans colleagues Fraser Reid and Dan Harrington and ex-Keystone Law partner Morris Bentata.