Arent Fox brings wine and spirits veteran Michael Kelly onto team

Kelly brings his two decades-plus experience to the firm’s Alcohol Beverage industry group

Lawsuits and legal debacles in the alcohol and beverage industry require specific attention from attorneys — particularly in the United States as different states carry different laws. To that end, U.S. firm Arent Fox has formed an Alcohol Beverage industry group to address the particular needs of clients in the alcohol and beverage industry. 

The firm’s Complex Litigation partner Nikol Gruning Thompson has led the team thus far through representing alcohol distributors, importers, suppliers and retailers. Arent Fox has made a precedent of serving manufacturers and alcohol suppliers on all levels of legal aid including litigation disputes, corporate transactions, licensing, distribution rights, product labeling, trademark registration and protection, and financial restructurings. Now, the firm welcomes a distinguished addition to its team: wine and spirits lawyer Michael Kelly. 

Kelly will join the firm’s New York branch and brings his two decades-plus experience to the team’s work for clients on legal issues at federal, state, and international levels. He has previously served as general counsel of Moet Hennessy USA, Inc. and Schieffelin & Somerset — a former Diageo North America, Inc./Moet Hennessy USA, Inc. project. A graduate of Fordham Law School, Kelly managed all legal matters for Schieffelin & Somerset, including corporate transactions and litigation. No doubt he will bring his extensive experience to the team at Arent Fox.

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Thompson publicly stated, regarding Kelly’s appointment: “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.” 

Kelly will be a part of the group at Arent Fox that aims to establish a formal practice at the firm and to harness the skills of more than 20 attorneys across Arent Fox’s four offices. Kelly will advise clients on trade practice issues, importation and distribution issues, and licensing and permitting matters before the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and will interact with various state alcohol and beverage boards.

Thompson emphasized that Arent Fox’s work in the alcohol industry has paved its historical path for the specific group to continue its work and establish its reputation in the industry. Other partners of the team include 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. Graff commented on Kelly’s onboarding: “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… [He] is highly regarded in the industry and we are confident he will be a valuable resource to clients.”

Contributing Author

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Juliana Kenny

Juliana Kenny is a contributor to InsideCounsel.com, covering a range of topics including patent litigation, conflict mineral laws, executive compensation, and antitrust regulation. Juliana earned B.A.s...

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