Stephen Townley is a lawyer, businessman and seasoned ADR professional with extensive expertise resolving high-value legal and business disputes in Asia, the Middle East and North America. Mr. Townley’s diverse litigation and transactional background includes the founding of Townleys, the first and largest international sports law and media boutique outside the United States, in 1983. It merged in 2001 with global 100 law firm Hammonds (now Squire Patton Boggs), where Mr. Townley served as head of international. Mr. Townley also served as general counsel and foreign law consultant for a number of firms.
Mr. Townley is an arbitrator and mediator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport and a mediator for the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is known for his ability to de-escalate existing disputes and overcome obstacles to settlement by leveraging his extensive legal, investigatory, business and technology skills in situations of conflict.
Mr. Townley is recognized as a trailblazer in sports and media rights. He worked on the legal structures and agreements for the first commercial programs for FIFA, UEFA, the IAAF and the IOC. He was involved in the creation of the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup, World Games and European Rugby Champions Cup. He delivered groundbreaking commercial tour programs with artists like the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. In film, he established a legal right for directors in the production of music videos, pioneered in Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” music video.
Mr. Townley has been a founder, board member and investor, operating at a senior level in commercial organizations, governments and sports federations. He set up and invested in NetResult, a technology and artificial intelligence service provider specializing in protecting proprietary content, which was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2013. He was a director of World Sport Football Ltd., the largest football rights owner in Asia, holding the Asian Football Confederation rights. This business was acquired as part of a transaction with Lagardère Sports and Entertainment in 2008. Since 1998, he has chaired Active Rights Management Ltd., a consultancy that provides advice to clients during periods of change and stress.
As a strategic adviser, Mr. Townley has chaired Synchro Arts, an international market leader in software production for music editing and recording, which in 2018 was honored with a National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Technical Emmy. He has advised law firms, charities, sports agencies and national and international sports federations. A champion of progress and innovation, he is the founder of LawAccord and was involved in the creation of the SportAccord Conference, two significant developments in the international sports marketplace.