Arent Fox launches Alcohol Beverage Group; Adds Counsel Michael Kelly

Arent Fox launches Alcohol Beverage Group; Adds Counsel Michael KellyArent Fox Launches Alcohol Beverage Practice,
Adds Veteran Wine & Spirits Industry Counsel Michael Kelly

Complex Litigation partner Nikol Gruning Thompson leads team representing leading alcohol beverage distributors, importers, suppliers and retailers in full range of federal, state and international legal issues; longtime senior wine and spirits lawyer Michael Kelly joins group in New York

June 8, 2015

New York, NY — Arent Fox LLP is pleased to announce a new Alcohol Beverage industry group and the addition of counsel Michael T. Kelly to the firm’s New York office. The launch of the Alcohol Beverage team underscores the firm’s comprehensive work for leading alcohol beverage distributors, manufacturers, importers, suppliers, and retailers on critical legal issues at the federal, state, and international levels. Among the firm’s roster of notable industry clients are Diageo North America, Inc., Charmer Sunbelt Group, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, F. Korbel & Bros, Mark Anthony Brands, Inc., Moet Hennessy USA, Inc., St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, and Zachys Wine & Liquor, Inc. The group also represents private equity and other substantial investors in the industry.

Mr. Kelly joins Arent Fox after serving more than two decades as general counsel of two leading wine and spirits companies: Moet Hennessy USA, Inc. and Schieffelin & Somerset, a former Diageo North America, Inc./Moet Hennessy USA, Inc. joint venture. Mr. Kelly will advise clients on trade practice issues, importation and distribution issues, and licensing and permitting matters before the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and various state alcohol beverage control boards.

“Arent Fox has a long history of working with alcohol beverage companies from all sectors of the industry,” said partner Nikol Gruning Thompson, who is leading the Alcohol Beverage group and focuses her practice on complex litigation in federal and state courts and in domestic and international arbitration. “Our group has been a destination for companies that want counsel at a time when new brands and market opportunities are expanding rapidly in the sector. Formalizing this group is a reflection on the first-rate counsel Arent Fox has been providing alcohol beverage clients for a number of years.”

The Alcohol Beverage group is composed of more than 20 attorneys spanning the firm’s four offices who provide corporate, litigation, and regulatory counsel. The team includes Complex Litigation partner Howard Graff, Corporate & Securities partners Richard N. Gale and Amy M. Donnelly, and counsel Andrew M. Crisses, formerly general counsel of Charmer Sunbelt Group. Arent Fox routinely advises alcohol beverage companies on matters ranging from litigation disputes, corporate transactions, and licensing, to distribution rights, product labeling, trademark registration and protection, and financial restructurings.

“Mike’s exceptional experience after more than two decades with some of the elite labels in the spirits business will be a great asset to our team,” said Mr. Graff, who has served as counsel to wholesalers in litigation across the United States, challenging state statutes prohibiting the cross border shipment of alcohol beverages. “Mike is highly regarded in the industry and we are confident he will be a valuable resource to clients.”

Prior to joining Arent Fox, Mr. Kelly was senior vice president, secretary, and general counsel of Moet Hennessy USA, Inc. and Schieffelin & Somerset Co. where he managed all legal matters for the company, including corporate transactions and litigation. He regularly advised management on regulatory issues and negotiated agreements in purchase and sale arrangements, joint ventures, distribution contracts, advertising, sales and public relations promotions, and trademark licensing. Mr. Kelly received his JD from Fordham Law School.

Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 400 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit