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CHICAGO-As Los Angeles and Chicago enter the final stretch in their bids to host the 2016 Olympic Games, law firms in the Windy City are increasingly eager to be a part of the action, while L.A. is counting on one firm as its mainstay for the effort. Sidley Austin is leading the pro bono effort in Chicago, with some help so far from DLA Piper on real estate and zoning matters and from Baker & McKenzie on immigration work. Winston & Strawn also wants to chip in. In Los Angeles, Latham & Watkins has been the law firm serving the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games for decades. The U.S. Olympic Committee will decide between the two cities on April 14, with the chosen U.S. nominee then competing against cities from other nations. For the winner, there will be untold additional legal hours spent on everything from trademark licensing agreements to vendor contracts. Sidley attorney Chris Abbinante has already dealt with all those issues in the more than 2,000 hours that his team of about 25 lawyers has given to the bid proposal. In fact, Sidley has devoted attorney Jessica Fairchild full-time to the Chicago 2016 Exploratory Committee since mid-January. While legal staffing for the committee after April 14 hasn’t been determined, Abbinante is open to sharing the load of work that would come with making a bid to the International Olympic Committee. “To the extent that others can bring resources to bear in giving the city the best chances to win, absolutely,” he said. The T-shirt phase Sidley arranged a licensing agreement that allowed Macy’s to start selling limited-edition Chicago 2016 T-shirts this week. The firm has also worked on labor, environmental and municipal matters, Abbinante said. Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson, a Winston & Strawn partner, planned to meet on March 6 with Patrick Ryan, chairman of the Chicago committee and executive chairman of Aon Corp. to offer his firm’s services, even as the city was hosting the U.S. Olympic Committee. The work would not only offer the firm the opportunity to give something back to the community, it would also give Winston & Strawn attorneys the chance to use their legal skills in a unique situation while introducing lawyers to a wide array of people in the city, Thompson said in an interview. Baker & McKenzie offered to give the committee $3 million in legal services through 2009 and has already begun work on helping to smooth the visa application process for international guests to the city, said Tom Campbell, an attorney with the firm in Chicago. DLA Piper has worked on some aspects of the real estate and zoning issues related to the proposed Olympic village for Chicago, Abbinante said. In Los Angeles, a city that has twice hosted the Olympics, there’s been less demand for legal services because there will be less construction associated with the event, said Barry Sanders, chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games and executive counsel to Latham & Watkins’ Los Angeles office. Sanders has tapped Latham attorney Richard Wirthlin to work with the committee on the bid in a reprise of their work together on the 1984 bid. Wirthlin and five other Latham lawyers have devoted an estimated 800 hours to answering the legal questions that the U.S. Olympic Committee puts to both cities, creating licensing and service-retention agreements and forming a nonprofit organization that would be created if Los Angeles is the winner later this month, he said. While Latham provides the services in the pro bono spirit of serving the community, “we hope along the way there will be those that look at Latham in positive light,” he said.

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