Ones to Watch for 2016: The Best Boutique Law Firms

Couchmans LLP is the UK’s premier specialist sports law firm, providing advice to domestic and international clients in the sports, media and sponsorship sectors across a range of legal disciplines. We spoke to Co-Founder and Chairman Nic Couchman about this versatile firm and the services it provides.

Couchmans LLP was founded fifteen years ago and we made then a very conscious decision to position ourselves as specialists in the sports industry. Whilst we do not exclude other areas of work we have built an extremely strong identity in the sports law market, which is supported by our years of experience and diverse client base. The firm operates across all aspects of the sports sector, from intellectual property rights, to sponsorships and media rights, to data, betting and integrity, to investments and M&A activity. Much of our work is high profile, although our role is frequently behind the scenes. We work closely with a vast range of clients who operate throughout the sports business, including high profile athletes, brands, governing bodies, leagues, clubs and investors, to help develop, structure, exploit and protect their commercial rights and interests.

Ultimately the sports environment is incredibly diverse and our client base reflects this. In addition to well-known clients, we also represent minority sports, junior athletes, sports entrepreneurs and small sports businesses and organisations who are at the cutting edge, and with our support they are able to grow and thrive in this competitive market. We decided to focus on sports law not just because of our love for the industry but also sport is a massive growth market. With global revenues soaring well over $100bn comes the need for stronger governance, regulation and the protection of rights. The industry as a whole is evolving and the rising commercial stakes and increasing regulatory complexity of the sports business calls for truly experienced and but more importantly to anticipate, the issues, and also the creativity and specialist legal acumen to help clients tackle the challenges and solve the problems they are facing. As specialists in the field, operating in both legal and business advisory capacities, we are placed right at the centre of this dynamic space, offering an exciting and invigorating work environment.

Despite having a small workforce the firm has become a leader in the sports law market, and our small size allows us to be incredibly flexible and entrepreneurial in our working methods and advice; more so than larger law firms. This entrepreneurial spirit is engrained and has seen the firm thrive - surviving two recessions as an independent business - despite the fact that most of our competitors are global firms with vastly greater resources. Part of our success stems from the fact that adding value is a core component of our ethos. We are a commercially-minded firm and our insight, experience and connections in the sector give us the ability to add tangible commercial value to our clients’ strategies and deals.

In addition, our people are a fundamentally important part of our firm. Our entire senior team are independently recognised as leading experts in sports, while our associates are likewise specialists and real stars in the making. The whole team shares in the firm’s identity and we all work very closely together, just as a sports team does, to maximise the benefits of our collective expertise for our clients and, importantly, to use our passion for sport to fuel our work.

In order to continue offering the very best possible service, we always aim to attract the most talented, commercially minded, sports lawyers to provide an unparalleled expert resource for clients in what is an increasingly complex business. We have successfully recruited many lawyers with blue chip City law training, but who have a real passion to work in the sports sector. Overall we believe our niche focus on sports law is our biggest asset. The breadth and depth of our experience across numerous aspects of sports, in multiple markets, and across many different sports, for diverse clients large and small - from long established sports bodies to start ups - gives us unique and privileged access to the innermost workings of the sports industry, enabling us to provide highly focussed, commercially aware and cutting edge advice to our clients.

Name: Nic Couchman
Company: Couchmans LLP
Email: nic.couchman@
Phone: 020 7611 9660

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