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SBJ/20100308/Forty Under 40
Published March 8, 2010
Chris Brearton abides by a simple axiom: Swim your own race. The philosophy, rooted in his years on the University of Georgia swim team, has come in handy as the attorneys at O’Melveny & Myers gradually expand the firm’s sports practice.
Brearton began working with his first major sports client in 2003 when the International Olympic Committee asked O'Melveny to assist it with U.S.
“Chris has really put a lot of effort into our sports push,” said Joe Calabrese, O’Melveny & Myers senior partner. “He really has grabbed this practice and said, ‘Let’s make something of it.’”
Brearton joined O’Melveny & Myers in 1998 after working as an accountant at KPMG for three years and earning a law degree from the University of Virginia.
“He can clearly describe concepts and provide solutions,” said Timo Lumme, senior director of IOC Television and Marketing Services. “He’s a very hands-on, proficient and pro-active lawyer, and he’s a very hands-on commercial negotiator.”
Brearton has been a central player in negotiations on behalf of O’Melveny & Myers’ biggest sports client, the IOC. He led media negotiations in China last year when the IOC negotiated a $100 million rights agreement with China Central Television for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, a more than 400 percent increase from the previous deal.
In total, he and the O’Melveny team also did deals in 160 territories for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics. He will be at the table again when the IOC begins negotiations for U.S. television rights, which are expected to fetch more than $2 billion.
“When I saw the U.S. score the winning goal in 1980 hockey in Lake Placid, I’ve been an Olympic nut ever since,” Brearton said. “I’m excited as can be about it. It’s the market I’m most familiar with and it’s where I’m a consumer. Will it be the most exciting thing I work on this year? Time will tell, but that’s definitely going to be up there.”