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After eight years as executive partner of Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton, Jim Murray is going to be a “playmaker.” The firm has announced the formation of PlayMaker, a wholly owned subsidiary that aims to offer a wide array of services to professional sports franchises and those who wish to be part of their ownership. The limited liability corporation, whose full name is PlayMaker Sports Advisors, will be headed by Chuck Greenberg, a partner in Pepper’s Pittsburgh office who leveraged a professional relationship and friendship with ice hockey superstar Mario Lemieux to build a substantial sports transactions practice. Greenberg has represented the purchasers of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers hockey teams while also handling the legal end of helping an investors group — which included him — to purchase the Altoona Curve, the class AA minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Greenberg now serves as president and managing partner of the Curve. Murray, a Pepper corporate partner who stepped down as executive partner in January, will serve as chairman of PlayMaker’s board. Along with Greenberg, whom he helped recruit to the firm nearly five years ago, Murray also is an owner of the Altoona Curve along with a group of investors that include Lemieux and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. PlayMaker will assist prospective purchasers and sellers of sports franchises with structuring and negotiations, equity and debt financing, investigation and analysis of acquisition targets, and evaluation, structure and recruitment of front office personnel. Murray said the subsidiary will allow joint ventures with other industry participants, such as investment bankers, banking institutions, brokers and others. “We found ourselves brushing up against it at Pepper,” Murray said. “We found ourselves counseling owners on what to do with front office personnel, and that’s not really what lawyers are supposed to be doing. And we found ourselves doing that as much as legal work. So we thought that it made sense to create an entity owned by Pepper that could take advantage of non-traditional fee arrangements.” Three other Pepper Hamilton partners will make up the PlayMaker’s five-member board of directors: Wilmington bankruptcy lawyer David Stratton and Philadelphia corporate lawyers Julia Corelli and Andrew Fletcher. Ira S. Rainess, a Baltimore-based lawyer who was responsible for all business development, marketing, contractual and legal matters for Cal Ripken Jr., will serve as director of business development. Murray said PlayMaker already has several transactions in the works, including the sale of a minor league hockey team and the purchases of two minor league baseball teams. After eight years of concentrating solely on firm management, Murray is attempting to build up his corporate practice from scratch. But due to the present economic doldrums, this is not exactly the best market to try and restart a corporate practice. So while the deals are not exactly plentiful, Murray focuses on corporate governance work, specifically Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance. His love with sports and strong rapport with Greenberg, though, led to his involvement with PlayMaker. Murray played baseball and soccer in college, and now his son is following in his footsteps as the starting shortstop for Duke University’s baseball team and his daughter, a four-sport athlete in high school, would like to play lacrosse in college. In fact, when Murray officially stepped down as executive partner late last year, his colleagues at Pepper surprised him with a guest appearance and lunch with Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. PlayMaker is headquartered in Pittsburgh, where Greenberg lives, and has offices in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Palm Beach, Fla. Its main address is 500 Grant St., Pittsburgh 15219.

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