By Robbie Clark
Though separated by the Ohio River, the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky business communities are closely bound in an interstate commercial relationship. As a result, many regional law firms operate offices in both communities staffed with lawyers who can practice on both sides of the river.
Perhaps it’s this built-in instinct to look beyond their immediate home turf that has led to national recognition for local lawyers.
Frost Brown Todd LLC, which operates 12 locations nationwide, opened its Florence office in 2007. Its Northern Kentucky office regularly accommodates 12 legal professionals who practice in a broad range of specializations, including corporate law, HR, labor law, environmental law, civil litigation, bankruptcy, real estate and banking. However, the office also taps the services of more than 40 lawyers in the firm’s Cincinnati office who are also licensed in Kentucky and periodically work from the office.
The firm member-in-charge William “Bill” Robinson III, who has more than 45 years of practice experience, is one of the most decorated and involved attorneys in the region, if not the nation. He was The American Bar Association’s 135th president in 2011-12, is a past treasurer (2005-08) and in June 2016 was named chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on the American Judicial System, continuing on 30 years in leadership positions.
Robinson has that leadership presence, and it’s well earned. He recently was named chairman of the National Judicial College Board of Trustees, the nation’s leading provider of education to judges across America and abroad. He has served as the president of the Kentucky Bar Association and president of the Kentucky Bar Foundation.
Robinson also holds positions on influential regional civic and business boards, including the important Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport board, and he strongly encourages his office’s attorneys to get deeply involved in the community that they serve.
“Our lawyers here are involved in a very diverse array of community service and leadership organizations as volunteer professionals,” Robinson said. “You can go around the office and you will find that all of the attorneys here are very involved as volunteers in the civic life of the community as a whole. It provides us with an opportunity to reach into the community and to interact with leading citizens and volunteers all over the community so that, working together, we can help improve the overall quality of life in our regional community.”
Multiple major firm offices
Other law firms with large offices in Cincinnati also maintain active offices in Northern Kentucky to serve that specific community. Accompanying its large Cincinnati office, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP keeps a Northern Kentucky operation in Covington. Dinsmore & Shohl opened its Northern Kentucky office in Covington in 2014 and has six attorneys. Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP maintains an office in Fort Mitchell to complement its two Cincinnati offices. And after operating a Cincinnati office for over 30 years, Strauss Troy LPA opened its Northern Kentucky office since 1987.
In a contrast to the other larger Cincinnati firms with Northern Kentucky offices, DBL Law (Dressman Benzinger LaVelle) got its start in Northern Kentucky and eventually expanded with offices in Cincinnati, as well as in Louisville. The mid-sized, full-service law firm has 33 attorneys on staff in its Crestview Hills headquarters, making it the largest Northern Kentucky-based law firm. Many of its attorneys work in offices on both sides of the Ohio River.
DBL Law, which first opened in 1955, has been a fixture in the Northern Kentucky community for over 60 years.
“Celebrating over 60 years of excellence in the Greater Cincinnati region, our firm traces its roots to the foundation of making a positive impact on our community,” said Jim Dressman, the managing partner at DBL Law. “We’re involved, we’re committed, and we’re continuously looking for ways to make our community a better place to live and work. Our clients are our friends and partners in business, and their best interests are our best interests. We operate with our clients’ success in mind and greatly value that relationship.”
Also operating in the Greater Cincinnati area from a Northern Kentucky office is Stites & Harbison PLLC. The Louisville-headquartered firm has 10 offices throughout the Southeast region, and one of its most recent additions was the Covington office, which opened four years ago under the leadership of prominent construction attorney William Geisen. The office started with two attorneys on staff and has grown to four.
“We’re slowly but surely growing. It’s our goal, a longer term goal, to have an office of 25 lawyers here,” Geisen said. “We want to replicate what exists in other offices, so we want to grow this office to offer the wide array of services we offer throughout the firm.”
Chase law school state’s largest
Preparing many Northern Kentucky attorneys for their professional law careers, the Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law is the largest of the three law schools in Kentucky. The school was founded in downtown Cincinnati over 125 years ago as an evening law school affiliated with the Cincinnati YMCA. In 1972 The school merged with NKU and moved to Covington, then in 1981 had a final change of venue to its current location on NKU’s Highland Heights campus.
“We have a long-standing, storied tradition of producing great, very successful lawyers for this area, for this region, and really for all over the country,” said Chase College of Law Dean Jeffrey Standen.
A mid-size law school, Standen says Chase College of Law averages 125 to 130 graduates annually, a large percentage of those graduates remain in the region to practice in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
Along with a traditional full-time, three-year academic program for a juris doctorage, Chase offers four-year, part-time day and evening programs for working professionals wanting to earn a law degree.
Recently Chase College of Law began offering a new masters of legal studies degree (MLS), a one-year program designed for corporate executives who don’t want a full JD but want to hone their legalese.
“They want that level of sophistication and knowledge and vocabulary about the law so they can be a little more effective with their general counsels and outside counsels,” Standen said. “This is for people who are involved in risk management, compliance work, and that can be all sorts of industries: financial, insurance, banking.”
The MLS program plays into Chase’s emphasis on business-related classes. Recently preLaw Magazine ranked Chase as one of the top law schools in the nation for students who want experience in business-related courses and programs.
Along with producing some of the more prominent attorneys in the Greater Cincinnati region, Standen says the law school produces a lot of graduates who work as C-level corporate executives in private industries throughout the region.
“It’s amazing to me how the world is changing and how having legal knowledge is so important,” he said. “Not just as a lawyer, but in making business-type decisions, because so much of business and life is filtered through questions of legality and liability. It’s important for all kinds of people to have legal knowledge.”
Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing, PLLC
Barron Peck Bennie & Schlemmer
BGD Law PLLC
Bramel & Ackley, P.S.C.
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
Cetrulo, Mowery & Hicks
Cors & Bassett, LLC
Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
Dressman Benzinger LaVelle PSC
Fessler, Schneider & Grimme, LLP
Freund, Freeze & Arnold
Frost Brown Todd LLC
Garvey Shearer Nordstrom, PSC
Greta Hoffman & Associates
John D. Christopher Jr., Attorney at Law
Katz, Teller, Brant & Hild
Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
Kenton County Attorney
Law Offices of B. Dahlenburg Bonar, PSC
Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith
Legal Shield/ID Shield
Linda S. Novakov & Assoc. PLLC
Nielson & Sherry, PSC
O’Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Raines, Buechel, Conley & Dusing, PLLC
Reminger Co., LPA
Richardson and Vogt, PLLC
Smith, Rolfes & Skavdahl Co., LPA
Stites & Harbison, PLLC
Strauss Troy Co., LPA
Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP
The Sanders Law Firm
Thompson Hine LLP
Wallace Boggs, PLLC
Weltman, Weinberg & Reis, L.P.A.
Brooklyn Heights, OH
William E. Hesch Law Firm, LLC
and DeMarcus P.S.C.
Wood & Lamping LLP
Wood, Herron & Evans
Ziegler & Schneider, P.S.C.
Information provided by Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce