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UC Law’s Kelly Johnson Steps in As Interim Hamilton County (OH) Public Defender


With more than 25 years of law practice under his belt, W. Kelly Johnson ’86 accepted another challenge when he became the interim Hamilton County Public Defender in April. After the Public Defender Commission and Shelia Kyle-Reno, the former public defender for Hamilton County, parted ways early that month, the Board sought someone to fill in for three to four months.

“The Board came to me and asked me if I would be interested in filling in during the interim, and my firm, Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur, very graciously permitted me the opportunity do this for a 90- to 120-day period,” Johnson said. “So I’m doing it with the full support of the firm I work for.”

Johnson is a partner at Porter Wright, where he handles the white collar criminal practice group. He has a wealth of experience as a criminal law attorney and as a public defender. He has worked in criminal law since graduating from the College of Law in 1986. He served in the federal public defender’s office in Cincinnati between 1995 and 2007.

“I’ve spent a large portion of my career in a defender’s office or accepting appointments of criminal cases in the federal and state system,” Johnson said. “I come with a background in public defender work.”

Upon stepping in as interim public defender a little more than two months ago, Johnson attempted to improve the culture in the office, as he instantly noticed a “very significant morale problem in the office.” In a period of about three weeks, he met with all members of the 125-person staff, some individually and others as a group, to get a better grasp of what he could do to improve the situation.

“I think that’s probably the most significant thing I have done – just give the staff an opportunity to voice their concerns and listen to what they need,” said Johnson, who has also worked with the office’s five divisions to find better ways of performing and serving their clients more efficiently.

How A Summer Internship Changed His Life

Although Johnson has vast experience in this line of work, he was initially interested in labor law when he began at the College of Law in the fall of 1983. He did take some criminal law classes, but that was not where he was focused, Johnson said.

Then, in between his 2L and 3L years at the College of Law, Johnson had the opportunity to serve as a constable for Judge Thomas Crush in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas.

“By chance, while I was there, there was a six-week trial that went on and I got to work with three of the best criminal defense lawyers I’ve ever seen in my life, and I got the bug,” Johnson said of attorneys Tom Miller (now deceased), Arnold Morelli (now retired) and Michael Barrett (now a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio). “It was just amazing to get to watch these attorneys work. I had incredible respect for what they did.”

Johnson, who grew up on the west side of Cincinnati and graduated from Oak Hills High School, received a degree in economics from Indiana University in 1983. Later, while at the College of Law, he was on Student Court and was the president of the Student Bar Association.

After passing the bar, Johnson began work with Frost & Jacobs (now Frost Brown Todd) for a year, before working at a large firm in Dayton for a couple years. Johnson then spent six years working with the aforementioned Miller before moving to the federal public defender’s office for 12 years. He began working at Porter Wright in 2007.

“I was at the federal public defender’s office and I wanted a challenge. I wanted the opportunity to try to do something different and stretch my skills and use some of the background I had in business and white collar law,” Johnson said. “I went to Porter Wright with the understanding that I’d be working in that area and also to work with the phenomenal lawyer named Kathy Brinkman ’75.”

Professional and Civic Duties Round Out Johnson’s Life

Over the years, Johnson has been involved with a number of professional and civic organizations. This includes serving as a president of the Greater Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Currently Johnson, who is also active with the Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church and is on the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Grievance Committee, is mostly involved with kids outside of his work.

“I participate in all their activities – whether it be lacrosse or dance or their academics,” Johnson said of 16-year-old Courtney and 13-year-old twins Ryan and McKenna. “My work and my kids has really been the focus of my involvement the last several years.”

Outside of all this, Johnson plays tennis, likes shooting sporting clays. Last year he did a 100-mile bike ride from Columbus to Athens, riding with his firm’s peloton (a large main group of riders in a road bicycle race) in the Pelotonia event.

As of late May, Johnson said there was some interest in him staying on as the Hamilton County Public Defender, but no decisions have been made at this time.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13

Alumnus Timothy P. Reilly Named a "Top Ranked" Attorney and "Leader in their Field" by Chambers USA


In a recently released 2012 edition of Chambers USA, Timothy P. ReillyTimothy P. Reilly, of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, was named a "Top Ranked" attorney and a "Leader in their Field" in Labor & Employment.

About Chambers

Chambers & Partners, based in London, began as a general book publisher in 1969. In 1990, Chambers published the Chambers Directory of the UK’s leading law firms; the company then began specializing in legal publishing. Chambers’ staff of 100 full-time researchers now prepares several renowned directories worldwide, which rank leading lawyers based upon their reputation among peers and clients. The Chambers Guides list the top lawyers in 175 countries, providing independent rankings and editorial commentary. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published its first edition in 2003. For more information, visit www.chambersandpartners.com.

About Taft

At Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, delivering outstanding legal performance to help clients succeed is what drives and motivated our more than 330 attorneys every day. Taft has offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Covington, Kentucky; and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm practices across a wide range of industries, in virtually every area of law, including Business and Finance; Litigation; Labor and Employment; Intellectual Property; Business Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights; Environmental; Health and Life Sciences; Private Client Services; Real Estate; and Tax. With a proven track record of experience since 1885, the firm offers breadth and depth of legal expertise coupled with a trusted business perspective to help our clients, big and small, regionally, nationally and internationally, reach their goals. For more information, please visit www.taftlaw.com.

Alumnus Mark J. Stepaniak Named "Leader in their Field" by Chambers USA


In a recently released 2012 edition of Chambers USA, Mark J. Stepaniak, of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, was named a "Leader in their Field" in Labor & Employment.

About Chambers

Chambers & Partners, based in London, began as a general book publisher in 1969. In 1990, Chambers published the Chambers Directory of the UK’s leading law firms; the company then began specializing in legal publishing. Chambers’ staff Mark J. Stepaniakof 100 full-time researchers now prepares several renowned directories worldwide, which rank leading lawyers based upon their reputation among peers and clients. The Chambers Guides list the top lawyers in 175 countries, providing independent rankings and editorial commentary. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published its first edition in 2003. For more information, visit www.chambersandpartners.com.

About Taft

At Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, delivering outstanding legal performance to help clients succeed is what drives and motivated our more than 330 attorneys every day. Taft has offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Covington, Kentucky; and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm practices across a wide range of industries, in virtually every area of law, including Business and Finance; Litigation; Labor and Employment; Intellectual Property; Business Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights; Environmental; Health and Life Sciences; Private Client Services; Real Estate; and Tax. With a proven track record of experience since 1885, the firm offers breadth and depth of legal expertise coupled with a trusted business perspective to help our clients, big and small, regionally, nationally and internationally, reach their goals. For more information, please visit www.taftlaw.com.

Alumnus Named "Leader in their Field" by Chambers USA


In a recently released 2012 edition of Chambers USA, Doreen CantonDoreen Canton, of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, was named a "Leader in their Field" in Labor & Employment.

About Chambers

Chambers & Partners, based in London, began as a general book publisher in 1969. In 1990, Chambers published the Chambers Directory of the UK’s leading law firms; the company then began specializing in legal publishing. Chambers’ staff of 100 full-time researchers now prepares several renowned directories worldwide, which rank leading lawyers based upon their reputation among peers and clients. The Chambers Guides list the top lawyers in 175 countries, providing independent rankings and editorial commentary. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published its first edition in 2003. For more information, visit www.chambersandpartners.com.

About Taft

At Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, delivering outstanding legal performance to help clients succeed is what drives and motivated our more than 330 attorneys every day. Taft has offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Covington, Kentucky; and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm practices across a wide range of industries, in virtually every area of law, including Business and Finance; Litigation; Labor and Employment; Intellectual Property; Business Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights; Environmental; Health and Life Sciences; Private Client Services; Real Estate; and Tax. With a proven track record of experience since 1885, the firm offers breadth and depth of legal expertise coupled with a trusted business perspective to help our clients, big and small, regionally, nationally and internationally, reach their goals. For more information, please visit www.taftlaw.com.

Alumnus Named "Top Ranked" Attorney and "Leader in their Field" by Chambers USA


In a recently released 2012 edition of Chambers USA, G. Jack Donson, of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, was named a "Top Ranked" attorney and a "Leader in their Field" in Litigiation and Antitrust.

About Chambers

Chambers & Partners, based in London, began as a general book publisher in 1969. In 1990, Chambers published the Chambers Directory of the UK’s leading law firms; the company then began specializing in legal publishing. Chambers’ staff of 100 full-time researchers now prepares several renowned directories worldwide, which rank leading lawyers based upon their reputation among peers and clients. The Chambers Guides list the top lawyers in 175 countries, providing independent rankings and editorial commentary. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published its first edition in 2003. For more information, visit www.chambersandpartners.com.

About Taft

At Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, delivering outstanding legal performance to help clients succeed is what drives and motivated our more than 330 attorneys every day. Taft has offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Covington, Kentucky; and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm practices across a wide range of industries, in virtually every area of law, including Business and Finance; Litigation; Labor and Employment; Intellectual Property; Business Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights; Environmental; Health and Life Sciences; Private Client Services; Real Estate; and Tax. With a proven track record of experience since 1885, the firm offers breadth and depth of legal expertise coupled with a trusted business perspective to help our clients, big and small, regionally, nationally and internationally, reach their goals. For more information, please visit www.taftlaw.com.

Alumnus Named a "Leader in their Field" by Chambers USA


Scott M. DoranIn a recently released 2012 edition of Chambers USA, Scott M. Doran, of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, was named a "Leader in their Field" in Natural Resources & Environmental.

About Chambers

Chambers & Partners, based in London, began as a general book publisher in 1969. In 1990, Chambers published the Chambers Directory of the UK’s leading law firms; the company then began specializing in legal publishing. Chambers’ staff of 100 full-time researchers now prepares several renowned directories worldwide, which rank leading lawyers based upon their reputation among peers and clients. The Chambers Guides list the top lawyers in 175 countries, providing independent rankings and editorial commentary. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published its first edition in 2003. For more information, visit www.chambersandpartners.com.

About Taft

At Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, delivering outstanding legal performance to help clients succeed is what drives and motivated our more than 330 attorneys every day. Taft has offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Covington, Kentucky; and Phoenix, Arizona. The firm practices across a wide range of industries, in virtually every area of law, including Business and Finance; Litigation; Labor and Employment; Intellectual Property; Business Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights; Environmental; Health and Life Sciences; Private Client Services; Real Estate; and Tax. With a proven track record of experience since 1885, the firm offers breadth and depth of legal expertise coupled with a trusted business perspective to help our clients, big and small, regionally, nationally and internationally, reach their goals. For more information, please visit www.taftlaw.com.

Lori Landrum '93 Joins Dinsmore’s Cincinnati Office


CINCINNATI, OH (May 31, 2012) – Lori Landrum '93Lori Landrum '93 has joined the firm as a Partner in the Litigation Department concentrating her practice on assisting clients in resolving business relationship disputes, whether by negotiation or trial. She will practice in the firm's Cincinnati office.

Prior to joining the firm, Landrum practiced in the Cincinnati office of Frost Brown Todd, LLC. Landrum leverages an engaging, detailed approach to guiding clients through a wide variety of business disputes ensuring that their needs and expectations are being met at each step of the process. She has worked with an array of clients in the manufacturing, retail and distribution industries, ranging from local entities to Fortune 500 companies. Landrum is actively involved in the community serving on the Board for a wide range of organizations, including The Cincinnati Ballet, McAuley High School, Dress for Success Corporate Guild and Biz-Women, among others. She earned her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law and her B.A. from Wittenberg University.

Harvey Cohen '87 Appointed to Multiple Local Boards


Harvey Cohen '87CINCINNATI (May 30, 2012) Harvey Cohen, a partner in Dinsmore’s Cincinnati office, has been appointed to the Cedar Village Foundation Board of Trustees along with the Board of Trustees for the non-profit organization, May We Help.

Cedar Village is a nonprofit retirement community with a vision to fulfill and enhance the aging experience for older adults and their families while keeping with Jewish values but remaining open to all faiths and denominations. Cedar Village also provides cutting edge elder abuse, rehabilitation and community extension services.

May We Help connects individuals with disabilities to skilled volunteers who invent, modify or adapt devices that enable clients to pursue their passions and improve their quality of life. Engineers work to create customized solutions for people who often have physical limitations or who are unable to perform a specific activity.

Cohen is a long-standing, accomplished corporate attorney, uniquely focused on helping clients win by practically, pro-actively and efficiently assisting with their foreign and domestic dealings. With years of studies and dealings abroad, he applies his global experience to address cross-border strategies and complex issues in tandem with specific product or service needs, industry situations, as well as "must haves" and "must avoids" before crafting any solution or agreement. Cohen chairs Dinsmore’s International Business Practice Group and is the Co-Chair Emeritus of ALFA® International’s International Law Practice Group.

About Dinsmore
Dinsmore is comprised of more than 475 attorneys practicing in 13 cities throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington D.C. For more than a century, Dinsmore has provided a broad range of integrated services to meet the needs of both large and small businesses as well as institutions, associations, governments, professional firms and individuals. For more information, please visit www.dinsmore.com.

Ulmer & Berne’s Vance VanDrake Elected President of the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association


CINCINNATI (May 29, 2012) – Ulmer & Berne LLP is pleased to announce that Vance V. VanDrake III, a patent attorney in the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice, has been elected President of the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association (GCVA). The GCVA is an organization dedicated to sustaining the region’s entrepreneurial culture by connecting entrepreneurs and investors through a variety of programming and networking events.

Mr. VanDrake has been involved with the GCVA since 2006. He has been a board member since 2011 and was the chair of the recent MobileXcincy conference. He volunteers more than 700 hours each year mentoring and assisting entrepreneurs with business development and intellectual property development and strategy.

“The GCVA welcomes Vance as our new fearless leader,” said Bill Cunningham, executive director and trustee on the board of the GCVA. “His get-it-done and rally the troops attitude will increase the quality and scope of our mission – to energize the entrepreneurial community. His leadership in our first MobileXcincy conference enabled 300 attendees to participate in a Silicon Valley atmosphere of mobile development. Look for great new ventures to emerge from the great team Vance is building for the 2012-2013 season!”

Mr. VanDrake focuses his practice on the intellectual property needs of small to mid-sized businesses. He is active in the Angel and Venture communities, has co-founded three companies, and serves clients in all aspects of patent prosecution and in the development of comprehensive intellectual property strategies. Mr. VanDrake is experienced in a broad range of technologies, including mechanical, medical device, electrical, telecommunications, materials, software, and business methods.

Mr. VanDrake was named one of the 2011 “Top 40 Under 40” by the Cincinnati Business Courier and was recently selected as a 2012 Legacy finalist for the Next Generation of Leadership award. He earned his B.S. from Butler University and his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where he was a member of Law Review and President of the Intellectual Property Law Society.

About Ulmer & Berne LLP

Ulmer & Berne, established in 1908, is a full-service law firm focused on exceeding client expectations and delivering superior, customized legal solutions for an exceptional value. Its more than 185 attorneys, located in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, and Columbus, serve as counselors and partners to a wide range of clients to help them solve their business challenges and achieve their goals. The firm represents publicly traded and privately held companies, financial institutions, hedge funds, private equity funds, pharmaceutical companies, international joint ventures and affiliations, investor groups, family offices, start-ups and emerging businesses, public bodies and nonprofit organizations. The firm has a long-established reputation for excellence and professionalism and has been ranked by general counsel among the top law firms for delivering superior client service in The BTI Client Service A-Team 2012: The Survey of Law Firm Client Service Performance. For more information, please visit www.ulmer.com.

Jason D. Tonne '03 Joins Frost Brown Todd


Jason D. TonneMay 24, 2012 (Cincinnati, Ohio) – Frost Brown Todd is pleased to announce that Jason D. Tonne has joined the firm as a Member in the Entrepreneurial Business practice group. He practices in the areas of corporate law, real estate, zoning, and community association law.

Tonne has substantial experience in business start-ups, forming countless companies during his career, while handling acquisitions, asset purchases, dispositions, contracts, and various other matters. He has gone on to resolve numerous business disputes through negotiation, mediation, and litigation. Tonne’s broad background and experience gives him the ability to advise clients on a wide array of issues and to find practical solutions to complicated problems. He is also very involved in the community and serves on Boards for the Hamilton County Elderly Services Program Advisory Council, Cincinnati Bar Association Young Lawyers Executive Committee, The Greater Cincinnati Sigma Chi Alumni Association, as well as serving on the Small Business Development Committee for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Tonne received his law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2003 and his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Accounting and Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati in 2000. He is a recipient of the "Rising Star" Attorney Award, Law and Politics Ohio from the years 2007 to 2011.

About Frost Brown Todd

Frost Brown Todd is a full-service law firm serving some of America’s top corporations and emerging companies. With attorneys regularly identified by clients, peers and industry organizations as leaders in their practice areas, the firm advises and protects clients in business transactions and litigation in industries including insurance, banking, financial services, manufacturing, transportation, real estate, construction, energy and healthcare. Its nearly 450 attorneys in nine offices throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia provide unparalleled service to meet clients’ needs; deliver the insights and solutions available only from a diverse group of professionals; and support the communities in which they operate. To learn more, visit www.frostbrowntodd.com.