Photo of William M. Lear Jr.

William M. Lear Jr.

Member , Lexington KY


William M. Lear Jr.

Member , Lexington KY

Bill has been with Stoll Keenon Ogden since 1980 and serves as Chair Emeritus from his office in Lexington. He was the Managing Director for 22 years and Chairman of the Board for four years. His leadership and many achievements over the course of his decades-long tenure at SKO are at the foundation of the firm’s Legal Horsepower™.

A highly experienced trial attorney, Bill is a Member of the Business Litigation practice, with a focus on disputes and challenges relating to Equine, Eminent Domain & Real Estate, and Trust & Estate matters. He also assists clients through the Real Estate and Government Relations practice groups.

Bill has the distinction of being named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America® from 2012-2014. Earlier in his career, from 1985-1994, he was a state representative in the Kentucky General Assembly and was recognized by the governor with the inaugural Economic Development Leadership Award.

Bill has long been active in the community and currently serves as a trustee of Keeneland Association and a board member of Commonwealth Seed Capital LLC. He is a past Chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce and has been inducted into the Kentucky Economic Development Hall of Fame, the University of Kentucky Law School Hall of Fame, and the Bluegrass Business Leaders Hall of Fame. In addition to his position with Keeneland, Bill serves the Thoroughbred industry as Vice-Chairman and member of the Board of Stewards of The Jockey Club.

Business Litigation: Bill represents clients throughout Kentucky in complex commercial and equine litigation. An example of his work within this practice includes his success in defending numerous landowners in negotiations and trial proceedings with multiple state entities in connection with road projects.

Real Estate: Working with clients from a variety of industries, including national and regional retailers, Bill concentrates on real estate litigation, planning, and zoning.

Government Relations: Bill’s accomplished background in the public sector, along with his extensive contributions to the state’s economic and workforce development, makes him well-suited to represent the interests of individual clients and large corporations before various government agencies.


University of Kentucky College of Law, 1975, J.D., High Distinction

Davidson College, 1972, B.A.


Admitted in

  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Kentucky

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky

  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky

  • Kentucky

Professional & Community Activities

  • Fayette County Bar Association

  • Kentucky Bar Association

  • American Bar Association

  • Keeneland Association, Trustee, Board of Directors

  • The Jockey Club Board of Stewards, Board Member, Vice Chairman

  • Commonwealth Seed Capital Corporation, Board of Managers

  • UK Arboretum Funding Campaign, Board Member

  • Business Leader Champions for Education

  • Lexington Strides Ahead Foundation, Board Member

  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Chairman

  • The Speed Art Museum, former Board of Governors

  • State Representative, Kentucky General Assembly, 1985-1994

  • Economic Development Committee, State Legislature, former Chair

  • Commerce and Economic Development Committee, National Conference of State Legislatures, former Chair

  • European Workforce Training & Business Assistance Study Tour-NCSL, Delegation Leader

  • Kentucky Investing in People Taskforce, former Co-Chair

  • Governors Tax Policy Commission, former Co-Chair

  • Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, former Chair

  • Lexington United, former Chair

  • Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, former Board Member

  • Kentucky World Trade Center, former Board Member

  • Economic Advancement Task Force, former Chair

  • Lexington Downtown Development Authority, founding Chairman

  • Downtown Lexington Corporation, former Board Member

  • Sayre School, Former Board Member

  • United Way of the Bluegrass, former Board Member

  • LexTran, former Board Chair

  • Lexington-Fayette County Urban Renewal Commission, former Board Chair

  • Lexington Partnership for Workforce Development, former Chair

  • Davidson College Alumni Association, President, 2012

  • Davidson College Board of Trustees, 2011-2012


  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®

  • Best Lawyers® 2012, 2014 Land Use and Zoning Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Lexington

  • Best Lawyers® 2013 Litigation – Real Estate “Lawyer of the Year” in Lexington

  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation — Land Use and Zoning, Litigation — Real Estate, 1989 – present

  • Kentucky Super Lawyers® Honoree, 2007 – 2016

  • Editor-in-Chief, Kentucky Law Journal

  • Order of the Coif

  • Order of the Barristers

  • Governor’s Economic Development Leadership Award

  • Kentucky Medical Association Layperson of the Year

  • Economic Development Award of the American Council on Economic Development Sponsor of House Bill 89, which restructured Kentucky’s Economic Development Cabinet

  • Kentucky Economic Development Hall of Fame

  • Kentucky Economic Development Hall of Fame

  • Junior Achievement Business Leaders Hall of Fame

Work Highlights

  • Real Estate Litigation

    SKO obtained a summary judgment at Fayette Circuit Court for a zone change appeal filed by protesting neighbors, resulting in a successful zone change and approval for all related development plans for a national retail outfitter and mixed-use development in Lexington.

  • Building Dispute/Injunctive Relief

    Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc. v. Saul Subsidiary I Limited Partnership, Ky. App., 159 S.W.3d 339 (2005)

    Represented owner of Lexington Mall and obtained injunction requiring Home Depot to remove its store and restore the Mall structure because Home Depot violated restrictive covenants; case settled.

  • Zone Change for Mixed-Use Development

    SKO represented clients in the acquisition, zone change, development plan approvals, and all related permitting for a 50-acre Mixed-Use Development including retail, office space, and multi-family residential uses.

  • Landowner Defense

    Represented numerous individual, agricultural, commercial and industrial landowners in negotiations and litigation against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Department of Highways, in connection with acquisitions of right-of-way for road projects and other assorted road and highway issues.

Contact Bill Today

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