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William M. Lear Jr.

Member, Lexington

Bill has been with the firm since 1980. He served as Stoll Keenon Ogden's Managing Director for 22 years and Chairman of the Board for an additional four years. He is currently Chairman Emeritus. Bill is a member of the Business Litigation practice with a focus on Equine Litigation, Eminent Domain & Real Estate Litigation and Trust & Estate Litigation. Bill is also a member of the Real Estate and Government Relations practices. His practice concentrates on real estate litigation, planning and zoning, government relations and thoroughbred racing regulations.

Bill is AV Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and is honored as a Kentucky Super Lawyer for his many legal accomplishments. A State Representative in the Kentucky General Assembly from 1985 to 1994, he gained considerable experience in economic development and was recognized by the governor with the inaugural Economic Development Leadership Award.

Bill is a member of the Fayette County, Kentucky and American Bar associations. He gives back to the community by serving as a Trustee for the Keeneland Association, a board member for the Lexington Strides Ahead Foundation, Board of Managers for the Commonwealth Seed Capital Corporation, vice chair for the Greater Louisville Business Leaders for Education and as vice chair of Public Affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Bill is married with three children and five grandchildren. He enjoys golf, hunting and hiking in his free time.

University of Kentucky College of Law
1975, J.D., High Distinction
Davidson College
1972, B.A.
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


  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Best Lawyers in America®, Lawyer of the Year, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Best Lawyers in America®, 1989 - present
  • Kentucky Super Lawyer, Land Use/Zoning
  • 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
  • University of Kentucky College of Law Hall of Fame
  • Junior Achievement Business Leaders Hall of Fame
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  • Fayette County Bar Association
  • Kentucky Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Keeneland Association, trustee
  • The Jockey Club Board of Stewards, present
  • Business Leader Champions for Education, member
  • Lexington Strides Ahead Foundation, board member
  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, chairman
  • Commonwealth Seed Capital Corporation, Board of Managers
  • The Speed Art Museum, 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, member, 2011-2012
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Work Highlights

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 obtained a zone change and all related development plan approvals for a national Retail Outfitter and Mixed-Use Development in Lexington.

Related Practices: Real Estate

Real Estate Litigation

SKO obtained a summary judgment at Fayette Circuit Court for a zone change appeal filed by protesting neighbors to a zone change and new development.

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.

Related Practices: Real Estate, Construction Law

Estate Litigation

After a 2 ½ week trial in the Bourbon Circuit Court in 2013, obtained a favorable jury verdict setting aside an estate plan on the basis of undue influence and unsound mind and awarding damages exceeding $550,000 for misappropriation of Trust funds.

Related Practices: Trust & Estate Litigation

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.

Real Estate Development Protection

Worked on efforts to protect the largest residential real estate development in Louisville, Kentucky from intrusion by nearby competition and the local sewer district involving wetland, sewer, drainage, zoning and apartment development issues.

Related Practices: Real Estate