Cleveland G. Clinton

Most lawyers can design an effective legal strategy when the issues are clear, the stakes are low and the client’s goals are easily defined. But when a once-in-a-lifetime crisis threatens your bottom line and reputation, you need a lawyer with the right skill set, experience, resources and creativity to attack it from every angle. I take a holistic approach to solving the real problem at the heart of a crisis. If legal action alone may fall short of the mark, I dig deeper to find the practical solution that will achieve the best outcome.

With a client list full of families navigating business and generational transitions, Fortune 500 companies and risk-taking mavericks who won’t take “no” for an answer, Cleve Clinton knows what it takes to develop creative solutions when big ideas result in big problems. Whether he’s serving as lead counsel in one of the growing number of fiduciary litigation claims within family businesses, advising a family in transition, or helping a developer sidestep a legal and public relations disaster in a new residential community, Cleve’s focus is always the same – understand and achieve the client’s goals, either in or out of the courtroom. His clients span nearly every industry, including beverage distribution, real estate, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation.

Many lawyers claim they can strike the perfect balance between legal strategy and a client’s practical goals, but Cleve demonstrates it every day. After 40 years of litigation practice, Cleve has learned one absolute truth – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. His starting point with every client is to fully understand their motivations and concerns so he can mirror their judgment. When the initial legal answer won’t solve the problem or is too costly, he seeks practical solutions that reveal new legal paths that minimize both the financial and emotional impact. And most important – if it’s not simple, it’s not the best solution.

Always putting his clients’ interests first, Cleve explores every resource available to ensure each case is in the right hands. It’s often as simple as making an introduction to another lawyer in the firm who can take the lead and achieve the ideal outcome. When a deal or controversy has a lot of moving parts and requires a multi-disciplinary approach, Cleve assembles a team of lawyers and other professionals with the perfectly-matched skill set – tax, employment, real estate, construction, regulatory plus more – and then quarterbacks strategic planning and tactical execution every step of the way.

Cleve is dedicated to keeping clients informed about the latest legal and industry trends that impact their businesses. As a regular contributor on the firm’s blog, Tilting the Scales, he focuses on analyzing new and interesting business issues from a legal perspective.

Representative Experience

Attorney at Law - Board Certified Civil Trial Law, Litigation Solutions

  • Successfully represented a national truck leasing and management company in a breach-of-contract lawsuit against one of its lessees. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted truck lessor’s motion for summary judgment on lessee’s fraudulent-inducement counterclaim. And, after a one-week bench trial, the court ruled that lessee materially breached the contract and rendered a judgment for the lessor of $3.1 million.
  • Separated two sparring business partners who each owned 50% of a number of limited liability companies involved in corporate governance issues.
  • Successfully arbitrated on behalf of a tenant in a rental rate dispute with the landlord resulting in the return of overpaid rent and $4 million in savings over the life of the lease.
  • Resolved litigation over Florida real estate and loan guaranteed by Dallas Cowboy football player.
  • Worked through over $1 billion in loans collateralized by real estate, including Angel Fire Ski Resort.
  • Litigated fraud and fiduciary claims between and among televangelist and LLC partners in multiple states.
  • Defended real estate joint venture against homeowners claiming $35 million damages from failed municipal utility district, and deflected homeowners’ claims from the joint venture to third parties.
  • Successfully defended $25 million in insider bond trading claims against corporate officer.
  • Resolved black male ex-employee's discrimination claim against publicly traded company.
  • Secured court order permitting seizure and replication of former employees’ hard drive to prove theft of company trade secrets.

Counselor at Law - Non-Litigation Solutions

  • Currently quarterbacking for a family-owned business to update corporate entities, resolve tax and employment issues, coordinate the purchase of real estate and related contract issues, and assist in navigating the family dynamics, all following the death of the family patriarch.
  • Quarterbacked a myriad of corporate, tax and legal risk management issues to maintain a bright line separation of intertwined interests between a well-known radio personality and his high-profile charitable foundation.
  • Advised a client to implement a master services agreement that tied product ordering with payment and a promise to purchase inventory unused for an extended time, saving the client over $750,000, and later collecting an additional $350,000 in arbitration.
  • Helped a single family real estate development successfully navigate a PR crisis involving media attention on partially-treated sewage floating down a neighboring creek.
  • Orchestrated homeowners approval of a bond issue resolving a lawsuit and averting bankruptcy of a special utility district.
  • Marshaled and disposed of real estate assets, securing loans on chain sandwich shop properties, office buildings, car lots, strip and retail shopping centers.
  • Assisted in sale of car dealership.
  • Resolved demands for telecommunications relocation in city street abandoned to a property developer.
  • Negotiated terms and enforcement of various non-compete agreements for both employers and employees.
  • Protected residential lot developer negatively impacted by issuance of a Type 1 municipal landfill permit on adjacent property.
Thought Leadership / News
August 29, 2022 
 Speeches and Presentations
23 & Me: The Downside of Sharing Your DNA

Texas Society of CPAs - Waco Chapter

August 23, 2022 
 Speeches and Presentations
23 & Me: The Downside of Sharing Your DNA

TXCPA Summit

June 22, 2022 
 Speeches and Presentations
23 & Me: The Downside of Sharing Your DNA

Texas Society of CPAs - Waco Chapter

January 27, 2022 
Tilting the Scales
  • AV Rated Attorney – Highest Rating in Legal Ability & Ethical Standards
  • Faith Presbyterian Hospice - 2016 Each Moment Matters Honoree 
  • Rotary Club of Park Cities - 2009 Paul Harris Fellow 
  • Rotary Club of Park Cities - 2007 Club Service Award 
Organizational Involvement

Professional Activities, Memberships & Affiliations

  • State Bar of Texas
    • Litigation Section
    • Real Estate Section
    • Collaborative Law Section
    • Technology Section
  • Dallas Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Dallas Bar Association
    • Chairman of the Fee Disputes Subcommittee (1984 - 1986)
  • Dallas Association of Young Lawyers
    • Director (1985)

Community Involvement, Memberships & Affiliations

  • Rotary Club of Park Cities
    • President (2013 - 2014)
    • Director (2006 - 2008)
  • Labors for Neighbors, Inc.
    • Co-founder and Director (2005 to present)
  • La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas
    • Director (2005 - 2009)
  • Project Transformation,
    • Director and Vice Chairman (2006 - 2007)
  • Highland Park United Methodist Church
    • Youth and Adult Sunday School Teacher
    • Bible Study leader
  • Theatre Three
    • Board of Directors, Chair (1990 - 1992)
  • Leadership Dallas (1992)
  • Scottish Rite 32* Mason
  • Dallas Young Texas Exes
  • J.D., Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (1978)
  • B.B.A., Finance, The University of Texas at Austin (1975)
  • Burnet High School
Bar Admissions
  • Texas (1978)
  • Arkansas (2016)
Court Admissions
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Texas
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas
  • United States District Court, Western District of Texas
When I Feel Most At Home
  • Water skiing near Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Spending time on the family ranch in Burnet, Texas
  • Socially hunting, skeet shooting and fishing
  • Planning and hosting an annual Christmas Party with my wife 
  • Teaching Sunday Bible class and serving on the worship committee and new member integration team at Highland Park United Methodist Church