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Sidley Adds Sports Duo That Aided Tepper in NFL Panthers Buy (2)

May 16, 2022, 2:30 PMUpdated: May 16, 2022, 7:38 PM

Sports dealmakers Charles “Chuck” Baker and Irwin Raij joined Sidley Austin, departing their jobs co-leading O’Melveny & Myers’ sports group.

Baker and Raij will lead a sports, entertainment and media practice at Sidley and work out of Miami, a new location for the 2,000-lawyer firm. Baker will split time in New York.

“We are excited to bring on Irwin and Chuck,” Yvette Ostolaza, chair of Sidley’s management committee, said in a statement Monday. “They will be aligned with our broader entertainment practice in the rapidly growing sports and media industry.”

It’s a significant hire for Sidley, given the prominence of the sports industry practice Baker and Raij have developed. The duo represented hedge fund billionaire David Tepper in his $2.275 billion acquisition of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers in 2018.

Raij led the team representing Guggenheim Baseball Management, headed by Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter, in its purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. He represented former Milwauke Bucks owner Herb Kohl in the $550 million sale of the team in 2014.

Raij also advises on development and financing projects for sports facilities, recently helping Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays in its effort to develop a new stadium project. Raij represents the Tampa Sports Authority in that process. He has worked on stadium facilities and finance work for deals involving the National Football League, Major League Soccer, MLB, National Basketball Association, Formula 1 events, and colleges and universities.

Raij served as co-head of O’Melveny’s sports, entertainment, and media practice.

Baker has represented private equity firms in sports team and sports property investments, and gaming and data companies in strategic partnerships and media deals with sports leagues in the U.S. and abroad.

Baker joined O’Melveny in 2017 from DLA Piper while Raij came aboard the same year from Foley & Lardner.

Sidley had a banner financial year in 2021, bringing in nearly $2.8 billion in revenue and raising its profits per equity partner by 20% to $3.7 million, according to AmLaw data.

The firm said it was also adding associates in Miami and Los Angeles to support the sports, entertainment and media practice.

(Adds detail on Raij's stadium work starting in paragraph six and info on associate hiring in last paragraph. A previous version of this story was corrected to reflect Baker and Raij were co-heads of O'Melveny's sports group.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com