About Nicole

Nicole Hancock is a member of Stoel Rives’ Executive Committee and a trial attorney who handles complex business litigation matters in federal and state court. Nicole is a business-savvy trial attorney, having served as in-house counsel for a global seed company and as lead trial counsel in state and federal court matters. She is focused on her clients’ business needs and works to find solutions that meet their business goals. In addition to her litigation work, Nicole serves as outside general counsel for mid-sized companies, using her prior experience as in-house counsel to provide legal services that mitigate against corporate risk and exposure. Nicole uses her business and courtroom experience to develop and implement winning legal strategies that are efficient and help achieve her clients’ desired outcomes.

Nicole’s trial practice emphasizes commercial and corporate disputes and risk mitigation. She has litigated cases involving contract disputes, corporate fiduciary duty claims, non-compete disputes, product liability claims, chemical application and drift claims, corporate risk management, business transactions, advertising claims, trade secret defense and enforcement, corporate torts, and injunction actions. Nicole is a highly respected litigator who has successfully first-chaired trials in federal and state courts, arbitration, and regulatory actions that range from high-stakes litigation to smaller matters that have an impact on her clients’ businesses. She is also recognized for her handling of administrative and regulatory enforcement proceedings.

Nicole Hancock is an accomplished trial lawyer who offers expertise in business litigation cases, assisting clients in both state and federal court proceedings. Her practice covers employment disputes and product liability claims, among others.

“‘Nicole’s attention to detail and ability to ask hard, probing questions makes her one of Idaho’s best trial lawyers.’”

Clients describe Nicole as a “smart and tenacious lawyer” who offers “smart, practical advice” and appreciate her “extremely intelligent” arguments. Another client says that “she moves quickly, manages her team well and completes tasks efficiently.”
 —Chambers USA         

Nicole previously worked as corporate counsel for a global seed company, and with this experience she continues to serve the industry as a member of Stoel Rives’ Food and Agribusiness team. She works with processing, manufacturing, and other agriculture companies as well as entities in the beer and wine manufacturing and distribution industry. Nicole assists clients in maneuvering through agribusiness regulations, including chemical applications and drift claims; compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Plant Variety Protection Act (PVP), Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), and federal seed regulations; and regulatory oversight of agriculture and food processing companies.

Nicole is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and served as the Boise Office Managing Partner from 2015 to 2020. She clerked for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the Honorable T.G. Nelson and currently serves as a Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative Emeritus for Idaho.

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Relevant Professional Experience

  • Law Clerk for the Hon. Thomas G. Nelson, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (2002–2003)

Food and Agribusiness-related Trial Work

  • ELJ v. Westland Irrigation District. Lead trial counsel for Westland Irrigation District, defending water distribution practices of irrigation district and successfully obtaining dismissal of both state and federal lawsuits, confirming lawfulness of irrigation district’s distribution practices.
  • New Energy One (Western States Equipment) v. McAlvain Design Build Inc. Lead arbitration counsel in dispute over construction defect claims related to design and build for anaerobic digester that was designed to turn dairy farm waste into energy.
  • Haskell v. McCain Foods USA. Lead trial and arbitration counsel for potato processing company in dispute with subcontractor re construction, development, and contractor termination for potato processing plant.
  • Lead counsel representing dairy producer-handlers and out-of-state producer in nine-week USDA Federal Milk Marketing Order promulgation hearing.
  • Dornoch Holdings International v. ConAgra Lamb Weston. As lead trial counsel, successfully obtained full dismissal with prejudice on behalf of ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston against plaintiffs’ multiple claims for breach of contract and breaches of fiduciary duties arising out of an option agreement to acquire a South American potato processing entity. The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho specifically found that the plaintiffs, the owner of the plaintiffs, and/or the plaintiffs’ counsel were “deceitful” to the Court and “intended to defraud the court by conceal[ment].” Based on discovery abuses and the willful deception of the Court, the multimillion-dollar case was dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.
  • Aardema, Bettencourt, Golden Valley Dairy et al. v. Northwest Dairy Association. Trial counsel on a three-person trial team in a three-week jury trial for Northwest Dairy Association in Twin Falls County, Idaho, resulting in a full defense verdict against claims for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and breach of contract with a multimillion-dollar claim over forward milk price contracts against the dairy cooperative.
  • Hull Farms v. Reitsma. Successful jury trial recovering damages on an intentional interference claim and establishing easement rights for an agricultural business.
  • Borders Melon Co. v. Dulcinea Farms, Inc. As lead trial counsel, successfully resolved litigation during federal court trial in McAllen, Texas, for large produce company defending against claims under the Perishables and Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and breach of contract against grower.
  • Counsels growers and agricultural entities on state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to the packaging, sales, and delivery of goods, including proper labeling of products, proper chemical or pesticide use on crops or lands, and other agricultural regulatory matters.
  • Represents growers and other agricultural entities in various state and federal Department of Agriculture investigations and administrative audits.
  • Represents agricultural entities and growers with various types of agriculture contracts, including production agreements, sales contracts, requirement contracts, and purchase contracts.

Alcoholic Beverage Distributor-related Trial Work

  • Lead trial counsel for beer and wine distributor in lawsuit enforcing Idaho’s franchise protection statutes.
  • Bill Jones Distributing v. Hayden Beverage. Successfully obtained injunction and declaratory relief against Hayden Beverage for unlawfully terminating distribution rights to sub-distributor of beer and wine products.
  • TEC Distributing v. Hayden Beverage. Successfully obtained protective order on behalf of a beer and wine distributor in protecting franchise distribution rights and defined statutory protection afforded franchisees in Idaho.

Representative Trial Work

  • Dynamis Energy v. Rule Steel Tanks Inc. Lead trial counsel for corporate contract dispute over supply contract.
  • Mahoney (as Representative of Former Stockholders of PakSense) v. Emerson. Lead trial counsel for stockholder representatives in dispute with acquiring company over earn-out calculations and payment.
  • Omnipure v. Watts. Lead trial counsel in multiple national product liability claims for water filtration products, resulting in favorable resolution of all claims in favor of client Omnipure.
  • Successfully negotiated settlement in advance of trial on behalf of plaintiff asserting breach of non-competition agreement and third-party interference with business relationships.
  • City of Eagle v. Premier Industrial. Successfully settled condemnation action on behalf of private property owner in condemnation eminent domain action filed by the City of Eagle.
  • Rule Steel v. Michael Arevalo. Lead trial counsel in Idaho State Court for three-week jury trial. Obtained unanimous verdict in favor of client, recovering 100% of all compensatory damage claims and recovering on punitive damage claim in financial workout case with claims of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, breach of contract, and punitive damages.
  • Rule Steel v. Michael Arevalo. As lead trial counsel, successfully obtained full dismissal on summary judgment of all counterclaims for breach of contract (written and oral), unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, conversion, tortious interference with contract, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage alleged against client in financial workout litigation.
  • Performance Chevrolet v. Market Scan. Successfully represented Performance Chevrolet in contract appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, including recovery of all fees and costs and full collection of resulting award.
  • Representation of large agricultural company in numerous grower and production contracts, product sales contracts (for dealer, broker, and direct sales), and licensing agreements.
  • Balla v. Idaho Department of Corrections. Successfully represented plaintiffs in a civil rights class action matter in preserving an injunction that protected inmates from overcrowded conditions.
  • Performance Chevrolet v. Market Scan. Obtained unanimous jury verdict in federal court commercial contract dispute regarding the performance of a computer software program, resulting in plaintiff recovering its contract damages, attorney fees, and costs.
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Honors & Activities

Professional Honors and Activities

  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® and “Women in the Law” (currently: Agriculture Law), 2017–2023
  • Recipient, Idaho Women Lawyers’ Kate Feltham Award, 2017
  • Awarded Idaho’s Leaders in the Law by Idaho Business Review, 2014
  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Idaho) by Chambers USA (currently: Litigation: General Commercial), 2011–2023
  • Listed in Mountain States Super Lawyers® (Business Litigation, Corporate), 2013–2022
  • Listed in Top 50 Mountain States Women Lawyers, Super Lawyers®, 2015–2016
  • Listed as a “Future Star” by Benchmark Litigation, 2018–2022
  • Recipient, Idaho Business Review’s Idaho Women of the Year Award, 2008
  • Inaugural class, Idaho Academy of Leadership for Lawyers, 2011–2012
  • Graduate, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce-Leadership Boise, 2006–2008

Civic Activities and Memberships

  • Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Conference of the United States Court, 2015–2018; Lawyer Representative Emeritus, 2019–2020
  • Steering Committee, Idaho Academy of Leadership for Lawyers (IALL), Idaho State Bar, 2014–2016
  • Advisory Board, Women in Agribusiness Summit, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2014–2016
  • Food & Agriculture Industry Advisory Board Member, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Idaho Food Producers Association
  • Member, Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association and American Seed Trade Association
  • Member, Idaho Women Lawyers; President, 2011–2014; Vice President, 2009–2011; Board of Directors, 2008–2015
  • Member, American Agricultural Law Association, 2008–present
  • Member, American Seed Trade Association, 2009–present
  • Member, Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association, 2009–present
  • Member, International Association of Defense Counsel, 2010–present
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Moderator, “Executive Profiles,” Women in Agribusiness Summit, Dallas, TX, September 2022
  • Moderator, “Keynote: U.S. State Commissioners of Agriculture Panel,” Women in Agribusiness Summit, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2019
  • Idaho District Court finds beer and wine ‘sub-distributorships’ should be afforded same protections for distribution rights as distributor,” Stoel Rives Alcoholic Beverages Law Blog, April 21, 2016
  • Presenter, “Sensitive Documents, Privileges, and Work Product: Tips for Creating Smart Documents,” in-house legal department training, February 2015
  • “New Idaho Alcohol Sampling Law Is Good for Business,” Idaho Business Review, July 15, 2014
  • Co-Presenter, “Idaho Civil Evidentiary Issues,” at the Annual Flagship—Idaho Rules of Evidence: Tips, Traps and Trends, sponsored by the Idaho Law Foundation, Inc., January 24, 2014
  • Co-Presenter, “Electronic Discovery Update,” National Business Institute, Boise, ID, December 2013
  • Co-Presenter, “Counsel’s Corner,” Women in Agribusiness Summit, Minneapolis, MN, October 2013
  • Presenter, “Litigation for Food Processing Companies,” Nutrition Law Seminar, Salt Lake City, UT, September 2013
  • Presenter, “GMO Biotechnology in the Law,” The Seminar Group, Seattle, WA, June 2013
  • Presenter, “Litigation in Agribusiness,” Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association, McCall, ID, June 2013
  • Idaho Wine Law Seminar, Nampa, ID, February 2013
  • Presenter, “Litigation in Agribusiness,” Pacific Seed Association Annual Convention, San Diego, CA, January 2013
  • Quoted in “Pacific Seed Association’s Annual Convention Addresses Vital Industry Issues,” Seed Today, January 8, 2013
  • “Are We There Yet?!? A Statistical View of Equality for Women in Idaho,” The Advocate, Idaho State Bar, January 2013
  • “From Field to Farm (and Stable): The Food Safety and Modernization Act,” Food Safety and Modernization Act Webinar, Part I, January 2012
  • “Intellectual Property Strategies for Seed Protection,” Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association Annual Meeting, McCall, Idaho, June 2011

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