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Graham Shear has over 30 years’ experience in UK, Europe, and international commercial litigation across a wide range of areas. David McKnight, Chairman at Rights and Media Funding Limited, who was a client of Graham’s in 2018 says of him: “If only all lawyers could deliver commercial advice AND results like Graham does time and again.” Daniel Lorenz, of LORENZ Consulting, who has worked with Graham on cases on multiple occasions said in 2016 that: “Graham Shear is one of the most skilled and knowledgeable sports business lawyer I had the pleasure to do business with.” Graham was educated at the City of London school for Boys, and graduated from the London University with Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1985 before attending the Lancaster Gate Law School for Law finals and being admitted to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority as a solicitor on 1st February 1989. He once said he became a lawyer in part because he watched the Crown Court series while he was growing up and because he liked to be paid to have a good argument. The first major case that involved Shear with the media was acting for Robbie Williams in the break-up of Take That in 1995. But he has always maintained a strong commercial practice, especially in commercial disputes resolutions alongside the sport and media work. However, it is inevitable that it is for his role as one of the country’s leading sports and media lawyers, that he has become best known. Of the Robin Williams case, he later recalled that trying to complete witness statements for Robbie Williams involved him going with Williams to “secret” location for a Top of the Pops after-show party which was then swamped by fans waiting for the band Oasis who were appearing on the show.
For the rest of the 1990s he built a successful practice representing sportsmen and sportswomen, like sprinter Dwain Chambers, Premier League footballers such as Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and Newcastle midfielder Kieron Dyer, other celebrities, and politicians. The attention resulted in him being named in The Lawyer magazine as one of the hot 100 lawyers to watch in 2004 and in 2006 he was The Times lawyer of the week, while acting for the Arsenal and England footballer Ashley Cole: “in an action for harassment, breach of privacy and libel after articles were published in The Sun and the News of the World. The action is unusual as the full back is not named in any of the stories.” In addition to his work with players in the eye of media storms, Shear also has extensive expertise in acting for finance companies' extending finance to the sport sector, as well as providing specialist advice to football clubs and regulators regarding sport regulation and governance.
With respect to the later he co-authored an important article in Journal British Sports Law in 2005 arguing that football players should be given the freedom to approach other clubs before the end of a season because to stop them doing so was a restraint of their trade. The article concluded: There should be two overriding concerns. Whilst many Premiership footballers are highly paid, they nevertheless have the right to a balanced and fair treatment so far as the protection by them of their future careers is concerned and the right to properly and appropriately seek future employment so as to maintain the continuity of what is ordinarily a short and intensive career. Secondly, where associations or governing bodies produce a system of rules whereby their members, as employers, restrict or govern the rights of their employees, they nevertheless have obligations not only to produce fair and balanced rules between employer and employee but also to ensure that the rules accord with the requirements of the broader domestic law Graham is recognised in the legal directories as a leader in commercial litigation, defamation, sport law and civil fraud. At the time of writing rule K3 remains in place. Graham Shear’s profile in the media made him a inevitable choice as a leading witness in the Leveson Inquiry. In parallel and away from the limelight he built a practice as a "general commercial litigator" and has pushed back against becoming branded as just a sports and media lawyer. In parallel to his sport and media related practice, he has developed a broader practice which saw him acting for banks, corporates, governments, high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs.
His has experience that ranges across:
• Contractual and shareholder disputes, specialist rights protection, complex recoveries and professional negligence – he was ranked as leading individual in dispute resolution and litigation by Chambers and Partners in 2017 and 2018;
• Complex and diverse fraud and internal investigation cases, which are often multi-jurisdictional;
• Deploying strategy and tactics in crisis management including defamation and reputation management for which he ranked as leading individual by Chambers and Partners in 2018;
• Being a trusted advisor to Boards of large multinational Corporates, high net worth individuals and politicians on a range of commercial, legal and reputational issues;
• Advising individuals and third parties in the sport and entertainment industry on a range of issues, including finance, defamation, privacy, and crisis management, he was honours as Leading Individual for Sport Law by Chambers and Partners in 2018 and a Leader by the Legal 500 in the same year