Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 42
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Sports Lawyers: Fred Nance

Fred Nance is certainly one of the top sports lawyers in the country, as general counsel to the Browns and lawyer to LeBron James. But like several others in the field, his path to sports opened up by accident.

Photo by: Tony Morrison
Nance was counsel to the city of Cleveland in 1995 when Art Modell announced the Browns were moving to Baltimore. Thus began his sports baptism by fire.

“As a consequence of negotiating the deal to bring the Browns back to Cleveland, I became well-known in NFL circles in my hometown,” he said.

He became so well-regarded that by 2006 he was one of the final five choices to be the next NFL commissioner. In 2009, the Browns offered him the general counsel position, which he accepted, but kept his partnership at Squire Sanders, his firm of 34 years now.

In addition to James’ legal affairs, Nance handles several other athletes, though he won’t name them and says none are football players.

Today, his focus with the Browns is largely on developing land around the stadium and improving the facility itself. The team has talked about creating a sports medicine and fitness center along the lakefront as an anchor for development.

— Daniel Kaplan