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Public sector practice

Governments have numerous responsibilities. They enact and enforce laws, provide social services and function as employers. They buy and sell goods, services and real property, and they oversee the distribution of trusts and estates through the probate process. A public sector law practice requires knowledge of not only constitutional and administrative law, but also criminal law and numerous aspects of civil law, including employment, health care, real estate, probate and environmental law.

The attorneys at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper (NGC) represent many public sector clients, including municipalities, school districts, regional agencies and a foreign government.


NGC attorneys have extensive experience representing local governments, including serving as law director and prosecutor in several Greater Cleveland communities.

We provide advice and counsel to cities, towns and villages regarding their roles as employers and as stewards of public lands; the handling of citizen complaints and rules violations; and the regulation of local businesses and public utilities in their conduct with the public and impact on the environment.

Our services also include advising police departments on a day-to-day basis, developing police policies and procedures and attending to all prosecutorial duties at the trial and appellate levels. Our attorneys provide aggressive defense to government entities in Section 1983 civil rights, employment, zoning and personal injury claims in Ohio state and federal trial and appeals courts as well as at the administrative level.

  • Cable television franchise negotiations and agreements
  • Civil rights defense
  • Development of police policies and procedures
  • Election law cases
  • Eminent domain matters
  • Labor and employment matters
  • Land use matters
  • Misdemeanor prosecution
  • Premises liability, personal injury and other tort defense
  • Public records issues
  • Zoning matters

School districts

School districts are responsible for the safety, well-being and education of minor children, the management of public funds and public property and the employment of a wide range of workers, from skilled and unskilled laborers in transportation, custodial and maintenance, food service and grounds keeping to certified professionals with advanced degrees including teachers, principals and superintendents. All of this must be done under scrutiny from parents, the media and taxpaying residents of the school district.

A school attorney must have an in-depth understanding of a wide variety of fields, with the specialized knowledge of how these areas of law differ when public schools and schoolchildren are involved.

  • Board policy development
  • Labor and employment issues
  • Special education issues
  • Student discipline issues
  • Student rights

Foreign governments

Foreign governments may wish to operate within the United States in a number of ways, including doing business, investing and owning property.  A foreign government’s conduct may be regulated by any number of treaties or by international law in general, and the application of state and local laws to foreign governments requires a thorough understanding of government relations, federal laws, the U.S. Constitution, including the Supremacy Clause and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

  • Probate matters
  • Real estate matters
  • Treaty enforcement
  • Treaty interpretation

Representative matters