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, 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 lead counsel in one of the growing number of fiduciary litigation claims or facilitating solutions for businesses as they transition to younger generations, Cleve’s focus is always the same – understand the client’s goals, remain mindful of family dynamics and strive to promote consensus within the family. His clients range from individuals to family-owned businesses spanning nearly every industry, including beverage distribution, real estate, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation.

When a deal or controversy requires a multi-disciplinary approach, Cleve assembles a team of Gray Reed lawyers and other professionals with the perfectly-matched skill set – tax, employment, real estate, M&A, finance, construction, regulatory plus more – and then quarterbacks appropriate strategic planning and tactical execution every step of the way.

A regular contributor on the firm’s blog, Tilting the Scales, Cleve is dedicated to keeping clients informed about the latest legal and industry trends that impact their families and businesses.

Representative Experience

Probate & Estate Fiduciary Matters

  • Currently defending contestant's claim that father's will, which gave all assets to the step-mother, was forged. 
  • Currently representing widow's claims against the community estate of her deceased husband who died during their divorce proceedings. 
  • Contested great aunt’s will purporting to benefit a non-family member who was the assistant executive director of her retirement community and who captured hundreds of thousands of dollars from her before she died and, taking advantage of her failing eyesight and deteriorating health and mental condition, who unduly influenced her to sign the will intending to benefit himself to the tune of over $40 million. Instead, her nephews / our clients got their fair share.
  • Challenged the co-executors / co-trustees of an estate and a trust who breached their fiduciary duties of loyalty and trust by committing legal malpractice in their estate planning for the deceased, by failing to disclose to the beneficiaries their dereliction of duties, and by attempting to cover up their misbehavior, costing our client, the trust, the Estate and the other trust and estate beneficiaries needless time and expense - all the while personally benefitting themselves and their personal attorneys. In the end, our client properly received what the deceased intended her to get plus reimbursement of a portion of the unnecessary fees she was required to spend to make the fiduciaries do their job.
  • Safeguarded the birthright, inheritance and legacy of our client against a grown woman raised by the father named on her birth certificate, yet who was claiming that our client’s father was her biological father – and who was demanding an equal share of his estate.
  • Navigated the legal and familial responsibilities of our client – named as trustee over the care of his brother’s daughter – to respect her freedom to make what he believed to be poor financial and companion decisions, yet acted to institute measures to protect her financial resources from catastrophe and to elevate her choices of friends.

Corporate Fiduciary Matters

  • Challenged brother's management of family business as having usurped a corporate opportunity and breached his fiduciary duty to his siblings. 
  • Defeated breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims by televangelist’s son-in-law against our client media partner and dissolved a dozen limited liability companies that they formed and owned 50/50.
  • Shielded company officer from breach of fiduciary duty claims and allegations of $25 million in insider bond trading claims.
Thought Leadership / News
January 23, 2024 
 Speeches and Presentations
Declaratory Judgments in Establishing Heirs and Spouses

Dallas Bar Association Probate, Trusts & Estates Section

June 29, 2023 
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

Community Involvement, Memberships & Affiliations

  • Rotary Club of Park Cities
    • RCPC Legacy of Leadership Institute Co-Founder (2017 - present)
    • President (2013 - 2014)
  • Labors for Neighbors, Inc.
    • Co-founder and Director (2005 to present)
  • Highland Park United Methodist Church
    • Youth and Adult Sunday School Teacher
    • Bible Study Leader
  • 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