Holland & Knight Goes All in in Sports Law, Raiding Quartet of Attorneys at Mintz Levin

Sep 23, 2022

For almost a decade, attorneys Keith Carroll and Tyrone Thomas have been a fixture in the sports industry, representing their law firm, Mintz Levin, at conferences and meetings as well as cultivating some notable clients.

Now the duo, along with fellow Mintz attorneys Anthony Mulrain and O’Kelly E. McWilliams III, will operate with a different calling card in light of the recent announcement that they will be joining Holland & Knight.

Previously, Holland & Knight had only a modest footprint in the practice area. The biggest news over the last five years, for example, was Title IX expert Janet Judge joining the firm in 2017. But she departed earlier this year, leaving Tampa Lawyer David Lisko as one of the firm’s only attorneys who is active in the industry.

With the hire of this foursome, Holland & Knight is “ushering in a new era for its Sports and Entertainment Law practice.”

Carroll, Mulrain and Thomas will collectively lead the practice. Carroll will remain in Boston, while Mulrain is in New York and Atlanta, while McWilliams and Thomas are in the Washington, D.C. area.

With regard to McWilliams, the firm was more interested in his ability to boost “its growing private equity practice. In addition to advising clients in the sports and entertainment industry, McWilliams works directly with private equity firms and hedge funds,” according to the firm.

Christopher G. Kelly, leader of Holland & Knight’s Litigation Section, noted that “given the firm’s significant and growing opportunities in the sports and entertainment industries, there was no better time to commit increased resources to take the firm to new and higher levels. With Ty, Tony and Keith and their national reputations in sports and entertainment law, our abilities to service clients in these multibillion-dollar industries are demonstrably enhanced. Just as importantly, their collective track record, national recognition and extensive contacts present a fantastic opportunity for the firm to develop and attract talented lawyers in these areas.”

Jose Sirven, leader of Holland & Knight’s Business Section added that “the team has built an impressive practice, and, just as important, they share our philosophy of working collaboratively across multiple disciplines to deliver world-class client service. They each have different strengths and backgrounds, but together they are a powerhouse team that can handle everything from finance and marketing deals to high-profile disputes. With their help, we can build an industry-leading team that understands how the industry is evolving and innovates alongside our clients.”

Carroll regularly advises prominent professional sports franchises, senior executives, and athletes with regard to league investigations, business disputes, and other sensitive and high-profile matters. He has been trial counsel for more than 20 matters taken to verdict, decision or award in numerous state and federal courts and arbitration forums, and has also successfully represented multiple clients in investigations conducted by Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). He has also been trial counsel in multiple sports-related arbitrations and conducted internal investigations for sports industry clients. Carroll has been recognized as a leading sports law practitioner by Chambers USA. Carroll earned a J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. degree from Georgetown University.

Mulrain handles a broad range of matters for creatives, talent, studios, networks, executives, agencies, teams, leagues and companies in the entertainment and sports industries and beyond. He has been ranked for both Sports Law and eSports by Chambers USA. He initially began working with entertainment clients when he was engaged by a publicly traded multibillion-dollar mass media company to handle litigation. His successful resolution of disputes for that client led to representing actors, writers, producers and directors in the motion picture and television businesses in transactions with studios and production companies. He has extensive experience advising and counseling professional athletes, sports agencies, sports leagues, Olympic sport governing bodies and boxing promoters, as well as regularly representing players in the NBA, National Football League (NFL) and MLB, including at least one No. 1 overall draft pick in all three major sports. Prior to joining Mintz Levin, Mulrain served as the founding and managing partner in the Atlanta office of Gordon & Rees. Mulrain earned a J.D. degree from Rutgers Law School and a B.B.A from Iona University.

Thomas, who actually left his firm for Holland & Knight earlier this summer, represents clients on complex legal issues in both collegiate and professional athletics. He advises boards and senior executives on employment, consulting, and executive compensation agreements. Thomas is a member of the Sports Lawyers Association and is a past deputy general counsel for the National Bar Association. He frequently speaks at national employment and sports law conferences and forums. Thomas is nationally recognized for his experience in sports matters and has served as a legal analyst for The New York Times, ESPN, Forbes, Sports Litigation Alert, and others. At Mintz Levin, was chair of Mintz’s Diversity Committee and member of the firm’s governing Policy Committee.

“I’m really excited to join a firm with the extensive resources and broad reach that Holland & Knight has, especially in the executive compensation and education practices,” said Thomas. who received his J.D. degree from Tulane University Law School and his B.A. degree from Dartmouth College.