Nance, Frederick R.

Frederick R. Nance


Frederick R. Nance is a highly-regarded legal and business counselor, nationally-recognized Sports and Entertainment Law practitioner and a leader in the firm. His high profile practice ranges from involvement in an ongoing series of critical negotiations involving community interests in Northeast Ohio to serving as business counsel to NBA star LeBron James, comedian Dave Chappelle and other notable athletes and entertainers. He is also an experienced trial litigator in federal and state courts.

Fred serves on the boards of the Cleveland Clinic (as a fiduciary director), the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Team NEO and of the publicly traded company RPM International Inc. He previously served for six years as an outside director to the publicly traded McDonald & Company Investments, Inc., where he was a member of the Audit and Compensation Committees. His previous nonprofit board service includes 10 years on the board of The Cleveland Foundation, as well as service on the boards of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Foundation, and BioEnterprise, Inc. 

He has a long track record of civic leadership at the highest levels in the Cleveland area, including as a standing member of the Executive Committees of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland’s 14,000+ chamber of commerce, where he served as the Chairman of the Board from 2006 to 2008. He is also a member of the Executive Committee and past President of The 50 Club of Cleveland. 

From 1991 through 2001, Fred served as the primary outside counsel to the City of Cleveland and former Cleveland Mayor Michael White in a variety of impactful initiatives and development projects including spearheading the battle to keep the Browns in Cleveland and leading the litigation and negotiation that returned the Browns franchise to the city when the former owner relocated the team.

In 2015, Fred was inducted into the Northeast Ohio Business Hall of Fame in recognition of the leadership roles he has played in many high stakes community initiatives. He was the only lawyer inducted in the previous 16 years and only the seventh lawyer in the history of Cleveland to receive such recognition. 

His Sports and Entertainment experience is extensive, including being selected from among several hundred candidates as one of five finalists for the position of Commissioner of the National Football League. Later, Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner asked Fred to join his team’s front office where he served for three years as the Browns General Counsel, while remaining a partner in the firm. In 2012, he was recognized by the seminal sports business publication Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal as “certainly one of the top sports lawyers in the country.” He serves on the Advisory Board of the National Association of Black Sports Professionals and leads the firm’s US Sports and Entertainment practice. His firm leadership experience includes serving two four year terms on Squire Patton Boggs’ worldwide, seven-person Management Committee and as the firm’s Regional Managing Partner.


    • Serving as business counsel to NBA star LeBron James, comedian Dave Chappelle and other athletes and entertainers.
    • Representing a major oil company in a class action seeking more than US$1 billion for alleged property damage.
    • Serving as project counsel on various Cleveland economic development initiatives.
    • Representing a publicly held company in various matters related to the termination of its CEO.
    • Defending a professional sports team in various grievance proceedings and other litigation.
    • Providing Sarbanes-Oxley Act counsel to companies before the Securities & Exchange Commission.
    • Negotiating and administering a series of agreements between the City of Cleveland and the National Football League guaranteeing the return of the Cleveland Browns. 


    • University of Michigan, J.D., 1978
    • Harvard University, B.A., 1975


    • Ohio, 1978


    • U.S. Dist. Ct., N. Dist. of Ohio
    • U.S. Ct. of App., Sixth Circuit
    • Ranked by Benchmark Litigation as one of the 2016 Litigation Stars in Ohio, 2015
    • Selected to the 2015 Inductee Class for Inside Business Hall of Fame, 2015
    • Listed in US News & World Report’s annual list of The Best Lawyers in America for “Bet–the–Company Litigation,” “Commercial Litigation,” “Government Relations Practice,” and “Sports Law” categories, 2007 - 2017
    • Ranked in the 2015 edition of Chambers USA for General Commercial Litigation in Ohio, 2015
    • Named one of the 100 most connected businesspeople in Northeast Ohio by Crain’s Cleveland Business, 2015
    • Honored as one of Savoy Magazine’s 2015 Most Influential Black Lawyers, 2015
    • Named among Northeast Ohio’s most influential leaders by Inside Business Magazine on its annual Power 100 List, 2014, 2015
    • Recognized in “Business Litigation” and “Entertainment and Sports” in Ohio Super Lawyers, 2007 – 2015
    • Named to Crain’s Cleveland Business Northeast Ohio Power 150 list, 2014
    • Honored with the “Managing Partner of the Year Pathfinder Award” by the National Bar Association, 2014

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    • WKYC Cleveland, “Speaker Ryan helps kick off local youth empowerment program,” July 19, 2016
      Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stopped by Squire Patton Boggs’ Cleveland office for a kickoff event for local youth empowerment program “Empower Cleveland Youth.” Fred Nance is one of six civic leaders who developed the idea for the effort, and is an active participant and mentor in the program.
    • The American Lawyer, “'Believeland' Becomes Reality for LeBron's Longtime Lawyer,” June 21, 2016
      The American Lawyer profiled Fred Nance, long-time lawyer for Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James, noting the Squire Patton Boggs Cleveland-based regional managing partner has advised LeBron “since he was a teenager, handling everything from lucrative endorsement deals to scuttling salacious paternity suits.”
    • Reuters, “What you might not know about Lebron James,” April 8, 2016
      In an episode of Thomson Reuters’ Keeping Score podcast, Fred Nance, “lawyer and friend of LeBron James, discusses his work off the court. LeBron was ranked #1 in the Horrow Sports/MVPindex Power 100, which evaluates an athlete’s brand and marketability.
    • Lexis Nexis Corporate Law Advisory, “Law Firm Diversity—Best Practices for Firms and Companies That Hire Them,” March 2016
      Since 2003, the National Football League (NFL) has enforced the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for all head coaching and senior operations jobs. On February 4, 2016, the NFL announced that it would expand the Rule to require interviews of female candidates for executive positions. In this article, Fred Nance, who serves as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee responds to the question “If the NFL can do it, why can’t the legal profession?”
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, “'Believeland' is a compelling, and at times gut-wrenching, look at Cleveland sports,” March 2, 2016
      ESPN’s long-awaited “30 for 30” documentary “Believeland” spotlights the anguish and dedication of Cleveland sports fans. Fred Nance is featured in the documentary.
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, “In the end, Sashi Brown and Alec Scheiner won out: Browns will be more analytical,” January 12, 2016
      All eyes are on Sashi Brown, general counsel of the Cleveland Browns, who is leading the search for a new head coach for the team. The selection of Brown is catching the attention of the industry as a rather unconventional choice, However, Fred Nance, whom Brown succeeded as the Browns’ GC, is one of Brown’s biggest supporters. Fred preached patience to Crain’s Cleveland Business, saying no two teams’ front offices are exactly alike and it will take time before we see if the Browns’ approach is successful.
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, “Browns' 'radical' new front office look gets NFL's attention,” January 10, 2016
      Fred Nance praised Cleveland Browns general counsel Sashi Brown, saying he is one of the most “capable leaders at this stage in his career” and his ability to manage people “wildly exceeds his professional age.” Sashi succeeded Fred as the Browns’ GC.
    • The Am Law Daily, “Ex-Wilmer Associate Seeks to Save the Browns,” January 4, 2016
      Sashi Brown was named executive vice president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns. Fred Nance, longtime outside counsel to the Browns, said Brown is the “complete package.” In the article, Am Law Daily writes that “Nance, who was part of a team of lawyers that advised on the sale of the Browns to Haslam in 2012, knows a thing or two about team building. He was once a candidate to become commissioner of the NFL, a position Nance was nominated for after successfully orchestrating a $535 million deal to bring the Browns back to Cleveland in 1999. A predecessor team had left the city for Baltimore in 1996, creating the rival Ravens.”
    • Inside Business, “Business Hall of Fame Fred Nance,” November 2015
      In a profile about Fred Nance, Inside Business writes, “In his colorful life and career, the Squire Patton Boggs regional managing partner has steered clients and Cleveland toward victory.” Fred recently was inducted into Inside Business’ Business Hall of Fame.
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, “Cleveland's Most Connected,” November 1, 2015
      Fred Nance is named one of the 100 most connected businesspeople in Northeast Ohio by Crain’s Cleveland Business.
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, “Building a better board: Northeast Ohio companies' leadership groups are dominated by men,” October 4, 2015
      Fred Nance discussed boardroom diversity as part of a two-part series about the people who control some of the most powerful organizations in Northeast Ohio: the board members of public companies.
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, “Building a better board: Average age of local members is 61,” October 4, 2015
      There are advantages to having a diverse board — in terms of gender, race and age, according to Fred Nance. He commented that we live in a digital age. “ Young people tend to be more knowledgeable…More open to innovation…More aware of the types of social issues that can end up hamstringing a company — if you have a tin ear to how the public will receive what you’re doing.”
    •, “Stokes' legacy includes helping minorities excel in law,” August 24, 2015
      On the passing of former Congressman Louis Stokes, Fred Nance praised his legacy, particularly in paving the path for African-American lawyers in Cleveland and throughout the country. Through scholarships and internships, his influence will continue. Fred commented, "When they see people who look like them, who have accomplished what they might want to do, it inspires them to try that much harder to know that there's a connection in the community. It'll help support them and pursue their dreams, and that's what the Stokes Scholarship Program is all about."
    • ABC News Dateline, “The Life and Business of Lebron James ,” June 15, 2015
      Between playing in the NBA finals and multimillion dollar endorsements, King James is living it up on and off the court. LeBron James lawyer Fred Nance appears in a segment where he discusses the economic impact of James’ return to Cleveland.
    • Attorneys at Law Magazine: Attorney of the Month Frederick R. Nance; Lawyers as Visionaries – The Legal Futurists who Helped Remake a Great City . June 2015
      In a profile for Attorneys at Law Magazine, the editor writes; “…There is arguably no one person whose name is more synonymous with Cleveland’s return to glory than attorney Frederick R. Nance, regional managing partner at the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs, founded in 1890.
    • Savoy Magazine, “2015 Most Influential Black Lawyers,” Spring 2015
      Fred Nance has been named one of the most influential black lawyers in the US. He is profiled in the Savoy article “From LeBron to the National Football League: Fred Nance is having more fun than the law allows.”
    • Professional Services Close-Up, “RPM reports cash dividend,” October 22, 2014
      At the annual meeting, RPM International re-elected four directors to serve in Class III in terms expiring at the annual meeting of stockholders in 2017, including Fred Nance.
    • ESPN blog, “First Cup: Monday,” August 18, 2014
      The NBA Players Association does not require a college degree, and most agencies bring on legal teams to handle the contracts. Fred Nance is mentioned as LeBron James’ lawyer and for being a finalist for the NFL commissioner’s job.
    • The New York Times, “An Agent of Change,” August 17, 2014
      The NBA Players Association does not require a college degree, and most agencies bring on legal teams to handle the contracts. Fred Nance is mentioned as LeBron James’ lawyer and for being a finalist for the NFL commissioner’s job.
    • Agenda, “When Social Responsibility Trumps Shareholder Value,” July 14, 2014
      Boards often must make tough decisions over maximizing shareholder value…Board member and attorney Fred Nance pointed out that sometimes directors have to choose unprofitable actions in the short run for a company’s long-term interests, saying that it’s really no different than investing in research and development.
    • Legal Times, “The Morning Wrap,” July 14, 2014
      The Am Law Daily chatted with Fred Nance, a Cleveland-based regional managing partner at Squire Patton Boggs and lawyer for basketball star LeBron James, about the athlete’s return to the city.
    • Am Law Daily, “LeBron’s Lawyer Welcomes Return of King James,” July 11, 2014
      When the news of LeBron James returning to Cleveland, Fred Nance wrote in an email to Am Law Daily that everyone in the city of Cleveland are “literally dancing in the streets.” In a subsequent phone call, Fred could barely contain his enthusiasm about his longtime client’s second major decision to come home to Cleveland.
    • NBC 3 Cleveland, Fred Nance Spends Seven Minutes with Russ Mitchell, June 17, 2014
      Squire Patton Boggs Regional Managing partner Fred Nance sits down with WKYC’s Russ Mitchell to discuss development in Cleveland and the importance of education to the city’s comeback.
    • Crain’s Cleveland Business, One year After Merger, Law Firm Making it Work, June 14, 2014
      Fred Nance and other Squire Patton Boggs leaders discuss the firm’s merger growth ambitions following its historic combination.
    • Forefront Magazine, “Old is Better than New,” May/June 2014
      GC Sashi Brown left one of the newest teams in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars, for one of the oldest, the Cleveland Browns. “Sashi presents that rare combination of low-key affect with an intense and unrelenting strategic focus. He’s already undertaken substantial executive responsibilities in a League where competition and excellence are the name of the game every day. Make no mistake. You’ll be hearing much more from Sashi Brown,” said Fred Nance.