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William M. Lear Jr.

Direct Phone: 859.231.3011

William M. Lear Jr.

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.

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.

Related Practices: Real Estate, Construction Law

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.

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, et al v. F.W. Schneider, et al., Ky.App., 849 S.W.2d 557 (1993)

Bellefonte Land, Inc. v. Bellefonte, Kentucky, et al., Ky. App., 864 S.W.2d 315 (1993)

Home Depot, U.S.A., Inc. v. Saul Subsidiary I Limited Partnership, Ky.App., 159 S.W.3d 339 (2004)