The Work

July 8, 2010 5:07 PM

The King James Chronicles: D.C. Lawyer Says LeBron James Is His Son

Posted by Brian Baxter

LeBronJames UPDATE: July 8, 9:33 p.m. LeBron James has announced he will play with the Miami Heat next season.

Basketball superstar LeBron James is no stranger to legal entanglements. As the 25-year-old phenom gets ready for his primetime special on ESPN to announce where he'll play next season, it seems nearly every media outlet is jockeying for a piece of the story of King James and his court.

The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, reports on a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who, in a sensational federal civil suit filed in late June, claims to be James's father. (The NLJ picked up on a report from TMZ.)

Leicester Bryce Stovell, a former associate at Baker & Hostetler and Jenner & Block, accuses James's mother Gloria of engaging in a scheme with her son and their attorneys to cover up the identity of James's real father. (Click here for the 23-page complaint, courtesy of The NLJ.)

According to a profile of Stovell on his LinkedIn page, the D.C. solo practitioner previously spent 19 years at the SEC as a senior legal adviser in the division of investment management and office of the executive director. Before joining the agency in November 1983, he worked as an associate at Baker & Hostetler in Cleveland and Jenner & Block in Chicago. He left the SEC in October 2002 to launch his own practice.

A docket for Stovell's suit lists John Burlingame, the managing partner of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey's D.C. office, as counsel to Gloria James. When contacted by The Am Law Daily, Burlingame jokingly asked if we were calling about his two teenage volleyball-playing daughters, then referred all further requests for comment to Squire Sanders regional managing partner Frederick Nance, James's longtime lawyer.

Nance did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although we spoke with him last week about the  free agency mayhem surrounding his superstar client. Nance, who helped James take on a salacious sports blogger in May, is also mentioned in Stovell's complaint.

According to The NLJ, Gloria James, who had her son when she was 16, told ESPN The Magazine in 2002 that her son's father was a man named Anthony McClelland. But Stovell claims that Nance once told him that a DNA test had eliminated McClelland as the father.

Stovell alleges that he met Gloria James at a D.C. bar and restaurant called DC Space sometime in March 1984--presumably while Stovell was working at the SEC--when she was visiting from Ohio. According to the complaint, the two had sex and Stovell claims he spoke with Gloria James some months later, who informed him that she was pregnant with a boy she planned to name LeBron, after "Leicester Bryce."

Stovell, who filed the complaint pro se, is seeking millions in damages. The NLJ reports he previously filed a racial discrimination claim against the SEC, settling it in 2002 after the agency agreed to pay him $230,000.

An NFL Player Tries His Hand at Hogan Lovells

Lawyers walking around the Baltimore offices of Hogan Lovells this spring might have been wondering whether some of the staff was putting down the law books to hit the blocking sled. They would have been right.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris Carr spent four weeks interning at the firm as part of the NFL's career development program. Carr, who will begin his sixth season in the league when training camp opens later this month, says he's wanted to be a lawyer since his junior year in high school.

Ravens assistant director of player programs Harry Swayne worked with Hogan Lovells litigation partner Steve Barley--a Ravens season ticket holder--on setting up the internship. Barley, who did not respond to a request for comment, told the Sun that Carr was well suited to transitioning from the football field to law firm life.

"He's got a lot of qualities you'd like to see in a good lawyer," Barley said. "He's bright, eager, [and] hardworking. He didn't act like a big shot. He was humble."

Carr, who signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Ravens last year, plans to start law school after his playing career ends. He wouldn't be the first player to enter the legal field after giving up the gridiron. Former NFL All-Pro Alan Page worked at Minnesota firm Lindquist & Vennum before becoming an associate justice with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Two years ago, we reported on how former Washington Redskin defensive back Martin Mayhew parlayed a summer associate position at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld into a staff counsel job with the Detroit Lions. He now serves as the team's general manager.

Around the Horn

-- While James grabs most of the basketball headlines these days, former NBA star Scottie Pippen scored a victory of his own this past week in winning a $2 million legal malpractice judgment against Chicago firm Pedersen & Houpt. The NLJ reported that the former Chicago Bulls forward and soon-to-be Hall of Famer sued the firm in connection with his purchase of a Gulfstream jet. George Spellmire, Jr., from Chicago's Spellmire & Sommer represented Pippen, who had sought more than $8.2 million in damages in the case.

-- The Chapter 11 case of the Texas Rangers baseball team continues to amaze us. A ruling by a bankruptcy judge complicated the team's attempt to sell itself to a group led by a Pepper Hamilton partner. So now an auction process is set to begin next week for control of the Rangers. A U.S. trustee has urged that the team replace Weil, Gotshal & Manges as its bankruptcy counsel because of a conflict of interest. Weil says there is no conflict. If there's one thing this increasingly complex case doesn't need, it's more lawyers.

-- Finally, those scouring the waiver wire for pitching in their fantasy baseball leagues might recently have come across Andrew Oliver of the Detroit Tigers. Drafted from Oklahoma State in the second round of the 2009 draft, Oliver has quickly ascended to the big leagues. But Oliver's previous claim to fame was his legal battle with the NCAA, which we reported on almost two years ago. Oliver sued the NCAA--represented by Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease--over a rule preventing college baseball players from using legal advisers in contract negotiations with pro teams. The NCAA paid Oliver $750,000 to settle the case in October.

Photo: Getty Images

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