J. Tanner Watkins


Tanner is a litigator in the areas of business and fiduciary litigation, banking litigation, personal injury litigation, product liability litigation, and insurance coverage litigation. He has spent much of his career representing a wide range of companies, from smaller local businesses to well-known brands in the logistics, agricultural manufacturing, pharmaceutical, banking, trust, insurance, and investment banking industries. He also has experience handling a variety of consumer finance claims, including creditors' rights and FDCPA, FCRA, and TCPA compliance and defense.

He handles trials, injunction hearings, and appeals in state and federal courts. Understanding that every client has unique circumstances, Tanner places a premium on thoroughly analyzing each matter before crafting a strategy that meets his client’s objectives, whether it’s negotiating a settlement or building a defense for trial, which enables him to quickly tailor his approach to fit each client’s needs.

Tanner is dedicated to advancing the legal profession. In 2015 - 2016, he served as chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division (KBA YLD). In his role as chair of the KBA YLD, he was the leader of several community outreach programs organized by the bar association, such as [email protected] (a public service initiative that educates teenagers on their rights and responsibilities as adults), Bully Proof (a program geared to prevent bullying, which is directed primarily at middle school children), and Legal Food Frenzy (a public service initiative that raises money to assist Kentucky’s food banks). Tanner is also active in the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD), serving as the Kentucky and Tennessee district representative, a member of the ABA YLD Council and a delegate to the ABA YLD House of Delegates.

He is also a leader in the Louisville community. Tanner completed community-focused training in the NeXt!! Program facilitated by the Fund for the Arts, serving as its vice chair in charge of development in 2011. In 2014, he received the NeXt!! Alumni of the Year Award, and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Tanner also served as chair of the Blue Apple Players (a local not-for-profit youth arts education organization) from 2013 - 2015. During his tenure as board chair, Blue Apple merged with Walden Theatre, another well-recognized arts program. He chaired the merger committee and currently serves on the executive committee of the merged organization’s Board of Directors. He was also recently elected to the Board of Governors for the Speed Art Museum and currently serves on its governance committee. In addition to these organizations, Tanner was recently appointed to the Endowment Committee for Louisville’s Fund For the Arts, as well as a committee member for the capital campaign committee for the Kentucky College of Art and Design.


  • University of Kentucky College of Law  (J.D., cum laude, 2008)
    • Moot Court
    • CALI Award for Advanced Torts
    • CALI Award for Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Centre College  (B.A., 2004)

Bar Admissions

  • Kentucky

Court Admissions

  • Kentucky Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana


  • Kentucky Bar Association (2008 - present)
    • Young Lawyers Division
      • Executive Committee (2009 - present)
      • Chair (2015 - present)
      • Chair-elect (2014 - 2015)
      • Vice chair (2013 - 2014)
      • Secretary/treasurer (2012 - 2013)
      • YLD Convention Committee, chair (2013)
    • Board of Governors  (2015 - present)
      • Executive Committee (2015 - present)
    • Convention Committee (2013 - present)
  • Louisville Bar Association (2008 - present)
    • Young Lawyers Section (2009 - present)
  • American Bar Association (2015 - present)
    • Young Lawyers Division
      • District Representative (2015 - present)
      • Council Member (2015 - present)
      • House of Delegates (2015 - present)
  • Fund for the Arts, NeXt! Leadership Program (2010 - 2011)
  • Blue Apple Players
    • Board of Directors (2009 - 2015)
      • Chair (2013 - 2015)
  • Speed Art Museum
    • Board of Directors (2015 - present)
      • Governance Committee (2016 - present)
  • Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Putt Fore the Patch Planning Committee (2010 - 2013)
  • Fund for the Arts Endowment Committee (2015 - present)
  • Kentucky College of Art and Design
    • Board of Directors
    • Capital Campaign Committee (2016 - present)
    • Fundraising Committee co-chair
  • Kentucky Continuing Legal Education Commission, Louisville representative (appointed by the Kentucky Supreme Court)
  • Lawyers’ Mutual Insurance Company of Kentucky, Board of Directors
  • Brandeis Inn of Court, barrister
  • Leadership Louisville, Class of 2017


  • Peer Review Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell 
  • Kentucky Rising Stars®
  • NeXt! Alumni of the Year (2014)
  • Continuing Legal Education Award from Kentucky Bar Association (2014 - 2016)
  • “Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year” from Kentucky Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (2017)
  • "Outstanding Young Professional" from the University of Kentucky College of Law (2018)