The Work

July 1, 2010 4:43 PM

LeBron's Lawyer on Life Inside the James Gang: It's "Mayhem"

Posted by Brian Baxter

The NBA's free agency period starts today and several teams are jockeying for position in their bid to land basketball superstar LeBron James. We checked in with the 25-year-old phenom's longtime lawyer at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey to talk about his part in managing the maneuvers over where his client will play next season.

Nance Frederick Nance, a Squire Sanders regional managing partner operating out of the firm's Cleveland office, has represented James since he first turned pro seven years ago. Nance (pictured right) was out of the office on Thursday, but we exchanged some messages. He notes that James is being represented in contract negotiations by NBA agent Leon Rose, a former partner at regional firm Sherman, Silverstein, Kohl, Rose & Podolsky, where his father Zev still works.

"[Rose] is one of the best in the business and I'm not functioning as his agent, but as you know, LeBron is a small conglomerate and there are real and business issues associated with the various options and future plans," Nance says. "It's my job to advise him and address those as they arise."

Nance won't be sitting on the sidelines. Since CAA acquired Rose's practice earlier this year and the countdown to James's eligibility for free agency gradually ticked down, dozens of marketing, promotional, and investment offers have flooded in to the James camp.

"It's been quite a process," Nance says. "In my 20 years of practice before meeting LeBron, I'd represented wealthy and politically powerful people, but nothing that quite prepared me for the mayhem associated with this situation."

Nance, a onetime candidate to replace Paul Tagliabue as NFL commissioner, demurred when we asked him where he hopes James ends up. But it's not hard to see where the sympathies lie for the outgoing chairman of Cleveland's chamber of commerce and current outside general counsel for the Cleveland Browns football team. As the free agency circus unfolds, Nance knows that James's decision will have long-term ramifications for more than just himself.

"You've got a decision by a 25-year-old that's going to affect a slew of people who are at the top of their profession," Nance says. "LeBron's decision will have a domino effect on the decisions of a number of other superstars in the league and, derivatively, a number of teams in the league and the NBA itself."

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