When Bill Lear marked his 35-year anniversary with Stoll Keenon Ogden in August 2015, he took a moment to do the math.
“I’d spent a total of 22 years serving as the firm’s managing director or managing partner, plus another four years as chairman of the board,” Lear said. “It was humbling to realize that my colleagues had the confidence to choose me to manage the operations of our firm for so long.”
Lear also recognized that it was a good time for a change. Before leaves began to fall in 2015, Lear advised his SKO colleagues that he planned to step down as managing director to focus on his clients, family and community service.
During his time at the helm of SKO, the firm experienced unprecedented growth, including the merger with Louisville-based Ogden Newell & Welch in 2006 that propelled the firm into a position of regional prominence. Under Lear’s leadership, SKO weathered a roller coaster of economic factors that left many law firms struggling to survive. Despite the ever-changing political climate nationally and locally, the firm maintained key relationships that benefited SKO and its clients.
Keeping with SKO’s commitment to service, Lear led by example. During his time with the firm, Lear also served as Chairman of the Board of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Lexington United, Chairman of the Lexington Partnership for Workforce Development, and as both a board member and chairman of numerous other civic and business organizations. He currently serves as a Trustee of Keeneland, as a member of the Board of Stewards and Vice-Chairman of The Jockey Club, and as a member of the Board of Managers of Commonwealth Seed Capital LLC. Later this year, he will begin a term as Board Chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
An Exemplary Career
Since joining SKO in 1980, Lear has worked primarily in the Business Litigation and the Real Estate and Government Relations practices. He is widely recognized for his capabilities in equine litigation, eminent domain and real estate litigation, trust and estate litigation, planning and zoning, government relations, and thoroughbred racing regulations.
From 1985 to 1994, Lear served as a State Representative in the Kentucky General Assembly, gaining considerable experience in economic development and government relations. During that time, he was Chairman of the House of Representatives Economic Development Committee, as well as Chairman of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lear’s many accomplishments in economic development, including passage of legislation creating the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership, were recognized by Gov. Paul Patton’s inaugural Economic Development Leadership Award.
Among many other honors and recognitions, Lear has been inducted into the Kentucky Economic Development Hall of Fame, the Bluegrass Business Leaders Hall of Fame and the University of Kentucky College of Law Alumni Hall of Fame. He also is a past recipient of the Kentucky Medical Association’s Layperson of the Year Award.
Lear earned a bachelor’s degree from Davidson University and his J.D., with High Distinction, from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
SKO has elected P. Douglas Barr to succeed Lear as Managing Director. The firm also named Lear Chairman Emeritus.
“It’s been a long but fulfilling run serving as the firm’s managing director,” Lear said. “The partners have selected a high-energy leader in Doug Barr, and we are all confident he will do an outstanding job leading us to even greater success.”
Lear added, “Being named Chairman Emeritus is quite an honor, but I really look forward to being known as attorney, husband, brother, dad and grandfather.”