Steve Smith lives in Ft. Mitchell, KY with Emmy award winning writer Vicki Prichard and dogs Edgar and Oberon. His parents, Jim and Gay, live nearby  in the same house where he and his sisters Caryn (Aspen, CO) and Elisabeth (Mt. Lookout, OH) grew up. His family tree falls from journalists in Iowa, corn and pig farmers in Indiana, and workers and inventors in West Virginia.

As a kid, Steve played sports, and though not a strong suit, Steve eventually played basketball in the International Student Games in Istanbul, Turkey, via the Edinburgh University team in Scotland (where, logically enough, he studied Chinese). The Edinburgh team won the invitation to Turkey. What wasn’t known was that Edinburgh was supposed to send a variety of teams, but only basketball made the trip. “So we played basketball, swam, ran track, and other sports, with no equipment and no training. “Waxed” is putting it lightly. It was a multi-sport beat down.”

Steve’s long-term clients are long-term friends. “It has to be that way. With friends there is room to disagree and have tough conversations without jeopardizing the relationship. The lack of a good relationship makes tough conversations unnecessarily stressful and can lead to miscommunication.”

Today, Steve's days are heavily invested in ethics, compliance, investigations and employment matters. He will always be a litigator. Steve is currently the Kentucky Market Leader, the firm’s Associate General Counsel, and serves on the Mansfield Certification Committee.       

Industries & Practices


Denison University, B.A., History, 1988 University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy, M.A., Negotiations Economics, 1990

University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy, M.A., Negotiations Economics (1990)

University of Cincinnati College of Law, J.D. (1995)


  • AV Preeminent Attorney Rating
  • President, Kentucky Bar Association (2019-2020)
  • Member, Appointed to Kentucky Chief Justice’s Committee on Disciplinary Rules (2023 -present)
  • Member, Appointed to Kentucky Judicial Ethics Committee (2022 – present)
  • Chair, Kentucky Bar Association Annual Convention (2024)
  • Delegate, Kentucky Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates (2022-present)

Professional Activities

  •  Chair of the Kentucky Judicial Ethics Committee (JEC) (2024)
  • Northern Kentucky Bar Association - Member - Past President (2007) - President (2006) - President Elect (2005) - Secretary (2004) - Board of Directors (2003-2004)
  • Cincinnati Bar Association - Board of Directors (2000-2002) - Chair of YLS (2001) - Chair-elect of YLS (2000) - Secretary (1999) - YLS Board of Directors (1998)
  • Kentucky Bar Association - Board of Governors (June 2011-2017) - Ethics Hotline Representative (2005-2012) - Ethics Committee - Member (2005-2012) - Rules Committee Member (2014-Present)
  • Kentucky Bar Association - Rules Committee Chair (2015-2019)
  • Kentucky Bar Association - Evidence Rules Review Commission (2017-2018)
  • Kentucky Bar Association - Chief Justice's Committee on the Future of the Practice of Law (2018)
  • Leadership Northern Kentucky - Class of 2004
  • Cincinnati Academy Leadership for Lawyers (CALL) Class V - 2001


Presentations & Publications

Additional Items

Federal CJA Ethics Seminar (September 2023)

Outside The Office

Jim developed the first computerized accounting system for auto dealerships and sold it nationwide. “Dad played everything straight and it worked out. He is a smart, conservative, long-term-think kind of guy. He used to say that there’s no such thing as easy money, and anybody who tells you otherwise is lying.”

Steve’s mother, Gay, taught English at Lloyd High in Erlanger, KY until the first of her three children were born – Steve is the youngest. She was a member of the Beechwood School Board in Ft. Mitchell and the Vestry at Trinity Episcopal in Covington for years. She volunteers for everything: the annual flower sale, maintaining the church gardens, the rummage sale, tutoring, and on and on. She also is a member of the poetry club at the Mercantile Library. “Mom’s the nurturer of all nurturers, a gardener extraordinaire, and better in the kitchen than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Out of college, Steve painted houses like he did in high school and sold insurance and investments long enough to know he didn’t want to make either one a career. He knew he wanted to work for himself, and saw the law as his best option.

“I opened my first law office in East Walnut Hills and had the incredible circumstance of renting office space from an attorney who became unable to practice basically the same day I became a lawyer. The guy had hundreds of clients who needed representation, so another brand-new lawyer and I went to work. I had all the clients I could handle my first week in practice. As my clients grew, I grew.”

He says the worst stress in his work happens when a client wants to take action that Steve sees as throwing good money after bad. “There are times to go to battle, but you have to go into it knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t do it just for the exercise because adversarial processes always cause wear and tear.”

Steve is a problem solver – in his words, a low-pressure solution-finder. “You get more bees with honey than being overly aggressive. There’s a time for both, but it’s better for the blood pressure to keep things in perspective. Some attorneys take on their clients’ emotions. My job is not to be my client – my job is to represent my client.”

The best client-lawyer relationships have high comfort levels, Steve says. “My clients are my friends. My long-term clients are people I vacation with and have dinner with. That is a significant part of my business. When clients hire me, I am as interested in their success as they are.”

J. Stephen Smith, Bricker Graydon LLP Photo

J. Stephen Smith

Of Counsel
  • Northern Kentucky Chamber Center
    2400 Chamber Center Drive, Suite 300
    Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017


  • Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • State of Indiana
  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court - Western District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court - Northern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court - Southern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court - Southern District of Ohio
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