Jeffrey L. Kessler

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Jeffrey L. Kessler
Personal details
Brooklyn, New York
EducationColumbia University
Columbia Law School

Jeffrey L. Kessler is a partner at the international law firm Winston & Strawn, where he also serves as Co-Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chair of Antitrust/Competition Group. Until May 2012, he was the Global Litigation Chair at the international law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf where he was also the co-chair of the Sports Litigation Practice Group and serves on the firm's Executive and Leadership Committees, his major clients include the National Football League Players Association, the National Basketball Players Association, and Panasonic Corporation (formerly, Matsushita Electric).[1]

Early life[edit]

Kessler was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954 to Edith and Milton Kessler, he grew up in a community in Brooklyn near Coney Island called Sea Gate with his parents and his older sister Linda. He went on to Columbia University graduating summa cum laude in 1975 and then Columbia Law School, he graduated there as a Kent Scholar and editor of the Law Review in 1977.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Kessler began working at Weil, Gotshal & Manges as an Associate in the Anti-Trust Department[2] full-time in 1977, after working there as a Summer Associate in 1976, he went on to become a Partner in 1984. From 1976 to 2003 he was the lead counsel in various complex antitrust, sports law and IP law cases, including major jury trials, he represented a number of US and international companies in criminal and civil investigations in the antitrust and trade areas and was part of the team that successfully defended Matsushita Electric and JVC against claims of a worldwide conspiracy in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Zenith v. Matsushita,[3] he became regarded as a leading commentator on international antitrust law.[4] He also was the lead counsel in several intellectual property cases involving frontier issues of IP law.[4]

Additionally, Kessler became known as one of the most prominent sports lawyer in the USA as he became regularly engaged in high-profile sports litigation,[5] he litigated some all known sports-antitrust cases while at Weil, including McNeil v. the NFL, the antitrust jury trial which led to the establishment of free agency in the National Football League (NFL).[6] He also handled numerous sports law cases for clients including the National Football League Players Association, the National Basketball Players Association, the Arena Football League Players Association, the National Hockey League Players Association, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the NFL Coaches Association, Players, Inc., the Women's Tennis Benefit Association and Adidas. Kessler represented various classes of NBA, NFL, AFL and MLS players, and several professional leagues, the North American Soccer League and United States Football League, as well as the Cities of San Diego and Oakland, and Alameda County, in various sports law disputes,[5] he also successfully represented Latrell Sprewell in his controversial suspension arbitration.[citation needed]

Move to Dewey[edit]

In 2003 Kessler left Weil to join the law firm Dewey Ballantine. Dewey Ballantine later merged with the Law Firm LeBoeuf & Lam and Kessler was at the newly created "super firm" Dewey & LeBoeuf where he was the chairman of the firm's Global Litigation Department, co-chairman of the Sports Litigation Practice Group, and a member of its Executive and Leadership Committees,[7] he has also recently[when?] done work on behalf of the National Invitation Tournament, CAA Sports, Wasserman Media Group, SCP Worldwide, and Pro Bono work for South African Amputee Sprinter Oscar Pistorious and Castor Semanaya.[8] Both runners were successfully represented by Kessler and allowed to continue their careers despite challenges from the IAAF. Kessler negotiated the current free agency/salary cap systems in the NFL, NBA, and successfully represented Michael Vick[9] in his roster bonus arbitration, Plaxico Burress in his Signing Bonus arbitration, and numerous other players in successful arbitrations and "special master cases".[10]

Kessler is a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School where he teaches a course on complex litigation, he has written and lectured on a wide variety of antitrust, sports law and related topics.[11] He published a new edition of International Trade and U.S. Antitrust Law, a leading treatise on antitrust and trade law issues in a global economy, was Co-Editor-in-Chief of State Antitrust Practice and Statutes, and was a member of the Council and was formerly Co-chairman of the Publications Committee and Chairman of the International Antitrust Law Committee, of the Antitrust Section of the American Bar Association (ABA),[12] he was also a member of the ABA's NAFTA Tri-National Committee and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham Law School. He was a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Georgetown University Study of Private Antitrust Litigation.[12]

Kessler has been recognized by numerous publications, including Chambers USA - America's Leading Lawyers for Business and Best Lawyers in America,[13] he is recognized by Guide to the World's Leading Antitrust Lawyers and Who's Who of Competition Lawyers and has been included in Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition 2009, The Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America 2005, 2006 and 2008 through 2011 and Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America 2006.[14] Kessler is named in the 2011 edition of The Best Lawyers in America and as a New York Super Lawyer in 2006 through 2012, and he has been named as one of The 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and that publication has named him one of the 20 Most Influential People in the NFL numerous times including most recently in 2011.[15] Kessler has also been named a National General Commercial Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation.[citation needed]

Move to Winston[edit]

In May 2012, Kessler left Dewey & LeBoeuf and joined the firm of Winston & Strawn.[16] Dewey had experienced mass partner defections starting in March 2012 for a variety of reasons, and despite his best efforts in conjunction with several other of the firms most prominent and successful partners to save the firm it proved to be unmanageable. Thus, Kessler led a group of over 20 other Partners, over 40 Associates, and a large group of support staff with him to Winston where he currently is a Partner and Co-Chairman of the firm's Executive Committee.[17] In total, over 75 people went with him from Dewey to Winston as he brought over his entire practice. In recent years, he has led appeals regarding discipline handed out by the NFL to Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, and the players implicated in "Bounty Gate".[18]

Personal life[edit]

Kessler has been married to his wife Regina since 1977, and has two children, he has lived in New York City for his entire life.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Jeffrey L. Kessler - Antitrust, Sports Law & Trial Lawyer - Winston & Strawn".
  2. ^ a b Columbia Faculty
  3. ^ "FindLaw's United States Supreme Court case and opinions". Findlaw.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2010-08-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "Jeffrey L. Kessler Lawyer Profile on".
  6. ^ "".
  7. ^ LeBoeuf Archived 2010-01-15 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Double-amputee sprinter takes case to court -".
  9. ^ "Victory for Vick: QB can keep millions from bonus". 4 February 2008.
  10. ^ "Plaxico Burress wins grievance against New York Giants".
  11. ^ "Jeffrey Kessler". Columbia Law School.
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2010-08-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "USA - Nationwide - Sports Law Lawyers & Law Firms - USA - Chambers and Partners".
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2013-02-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "SportsBusiness Journal".
  16. ^ Lattman, Peter. "Dewey's Jeffrey Kessler Heading to Winston & Strawn".
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-23. Retrieved 2016-01-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Jeffrey L. Kessler - Winston & Strawn". Retrieved 2016-02-21.

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