John Kirk practices in the employee benefits area, specializing in comprehensive support for employers of all sizes, public and private, for, as well as nonprofit organizations. His expertise spans various facets of employee benefits, including design, implementation, and compliance across tax-qualified plans such as 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, ESOPs, and defined benefit plans. John also advises employers on nonqualified deferred compensation, health and welfare programs, including ACA compliance, and employee fringe benefit plans.

John has extensive experience representing plan sponsors, trustees, and fiduciaries in transactions involving ESOPs. He guides companies through the entire ESOP life-cycle, including acquisitions, divestitures, and administration matters post-acquisition. John further assists ESOP entities with governmental audits/investigations and litigation.

Beyond ESOPs, John assists employers in designing and implementing qualified and non-qualified plans, including stock options, deferred compensation, and other incentive plans.  He works with employers to help modify and administer both small and large defined benefit and defined contribution plans, supplemental retirement programs, equity compensation programs, and health and welfare arrangements. His practice also includes all aspects of retirement plan work for nonprofit and governmental employers (e.g., 403(b), 457(b), and 457(f) plans).

John lives in Union, KY with his wife, Casey, son, Jack, and daughter, Nancy.


Georgetown College, B.S., Accounting, 1999

University of Kentucky College of Law, J.D., 2002

Professional Activities

Kentucky Bar Association

Boy Scouts of America Dan Beard Council - Board Member (2016-2019)

Peterloon Planning Committee (2019, 2021, 2024)

Boy Scouts of America Dan Beard Council - Trailblazer District Chairman (2016-2019)

Boy Scouts of America Troop 805 - Union KY - Scoutmaster

The Henry Hosea House - Volunteer


Blog Posts

Presentations & Publications

Additional Items

  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon Employment Hot Topics (November 2023)
  • Speaker, Retirement Plan Webinar (November 23)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon New Superintendent Training (September 23)
  • Speaker, Benefits for Labor Lawyers, OMLA (June 23).
  • Speaker, Lifecycle of Employee Benefits, OSBA (February 23)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (August 23)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (May 23)
  • Speaker, Secure 2.0, Impact on Benefits Plans (March 23)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (February 23)
  • Speaker, Secure 2.0, Kentucky Society of CPAs (September 2022)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (August 22)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (May 22)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (February 22)
  • Speaker, Bricker Graydon/ HORAN/ VonLehman Retirement Plan Series (December 21)

Outside The Office

John Kirk is, in all probability, the only Bricker Graydon attorney who can even now occasionally do a kickflip.  That’s where you’re riding on on your skateboard, you jump up a foot or so (that’s called an “ollie”) and, through an amazingly complex sleight-of-foot maneuver, you cause the board to spin on a horizontal axis.  Then you land and keep skating along as if nothing remarkable has happened.  But it has.

John took up skateboarding around the age of 10 growing up in Walton, Kentucky.  He says it took forever to learn to do a kickflip.  “I fell a lot and probably knocked myself out a couple times,” he says, “but it was worth it.”

Now in his early 40s, John still gets on a skateboard a couple times a week, only now he wears a helmet.  He helped build portions of the skateboard park under the I-471 bridge across from Newport High’s football stadium.  “The thing I like about skateboarding is that there aren’t any rules and no referees.  You just go out and have fun.”

John’s dad was a Vietnam veteran who owned his own distribution business selling machine tools.  His mom, now retired, was a teacher for nearly 30 years.  While John’s dad died when John was a junior in college, he taught John a lot.  Both his parents always taught him empathy for others and to always consider the other person’s perspective before speaking or acting.

John met his wife, Casey, their first week as freshman at Georgetown College.  She didn’t know John, but she had waited for years at the old Po’ Folks restaurant in Erlanger on John’s Grandma Helen, who happened to be an old friend of her own grandmother.  John and Casey married after his first year of law school at the University of Kentucky.  They now live in Union, KY and have a son, Jack, and a daughter, Nancy, and three cats.

John was never much into Boy Scouts as a kid, but Jack is.  That’s why a good chunk of John’s time these days is given to being the Scoutmaster of Troop 805, based at the Union Presbyterian Church in Union, Kentucky.  As a Scoutmaster, John has hiked a 100 miles through New Mexico, canoed all over the Midwest, and helped many young people grow their self-confidence and leadership skills.

His taste in music leans toward punk rock and heavy metal, the Ramones and the Misfits.  The first concert he took Jack to was Iron Maiden; Nancy’s first was the Aquabats.  Even with those punk rock leanings, the only thing he ever wanted to be when he grew up was a lawyer.  “I don’t remember this but my parents said I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a little kid.  I really don’t know why I said that but it seemed like a good idea then and seems to have worked out okay.”

He works with Graydon’s employee benefits group. “Benefits isn’t just one thing.  You can go to court, draft plan documents, and help employers solve an employee issue all in the same day.  I enjoy the variety the area offers.  I also enjoy the fact that benefits still has a lot of gray areas within the law.  That allows you to be creative within the rules and it is where you find opportunities for your clients.”

John Kirk, Bricker Graydon LLP Photo

John R. Kirk

  • 312 Walnut Street
    Suite 1800
    Cincinnati, OH 45202 -4152


  • Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • State of Tennessee
  • State of Ohio
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court - Middle District of Tennessee
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