With the same last name as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Michael Cardozo was all but destined for a legal career. “Some people thought I was going to be a lawyer from the day I was born,” says Cardozo, 74, a distant cousin of jurist Benjamin Cardozo.

After graduating from Columbia Law School, he began to build on the Cardozo family name, helping to make Proskauer Rose a player in sports law. He was one of a cadre of lawyers who developed the firm’s relationships with major professional sports leagues. Among other matters, Cardozo handled aspects of landmark antitrust litigation in the National Basketball Association’s merger with the American Basketball Association. “He was instrumental in the growth of our practice,” says Proskauer chair Joseph Leccese.