Hiring an attorney typically isn’t major news, especially in U.S. Soccer litigation these days. That said, when you hire a high-powered California law firm to assist in the litigation of a federal case out of New York, it does raise a few eyebrows.
And so it is with the North American Soccer League, who has just retained Clifford H. Pearson from PEARSON, SIMON & WARSAW, LLP out of the Los Angeles area to assist in the antitrust lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer. As you can imagine from the fact that Mr. Pearson’s name is on the marquee, he has an impressive resume litigating antitrust matters, among other things.
With the addition of such a prominent firm, many will be wondering what that means for Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney (and long time adversary of the USSF/MLS) handling the case. I have it on good authority that the addition of Pearson will have no impact on the hierarchy of NASL litigation team. Kessler will remain as the point man/lead counsel.
What is also interesting is that Pearson and his firm are joining the case on a contingency basis. Which means they will only get paid if NASL recovers damages. Typically that means the firm takes a large percentage of any recovery, but the benefit for the NASL is they’re not taking on additional costs of another retainer on the front end (and considering the pedigree of the firm, that would not have been a small check).
I’m not privy to the exact arrangement, but if a firm like that is willing to join the case without a retainer, they must believe there is good chance of a favorable verdict at the end of the case (though any contingency arrangement is sure to spell out that there is no guarantee of outcome/recovery).
On a related note (and you may have read this in my lawsuit guide), the discovery process continues in the antitrust case. The parties continue to depose each other, and that process should be wrapped up by May. NASL appears to be confident (take that for what it’s worth) that what they’ve learned thus far will lead to a good result at the end (and potentially a substantial damages award), but of course we’ll have to wait and see.