James E. Cleveland, III


Jim's vast experience as a litigator gives him an edge with clients. Throughout his impressive more than 40-year career, he has been the lead attorney in cases involving FELA, railroad crossings, medical malpractice, automobile insurance defense, and labor relations in some of the toughest venues in Eastern Kentucky.

During law school, Jim served as vice president of the Moot Court program and worked as legislative aide in the United States Senate. Upon graduation, he served as law clerk to Justice James B. Stephenson, Supreme Court of Kentucky. He has served as special justice to the Supreme Court of Kentucky. In addition, he has an active practice in the United States District Court in the both Eastern and Western District of Kentucky and was asked to serve as a life member to the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference. He has served as a member of the Joint Local Rules Committee for the Federal Courts in Kentucky as well as the Biden Committee studying costs and delays in the federal courts.

Jim graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1971 and the University of Louisville College of Law in 1974, where he was a member of Delta Theta Phi.


  • Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville  (J.D., 1974)
    • Delta Theta Pi
    • Moot Court, vice president
  • University of Kentucky  (1971)

Bar Admissions

  • Kentucky

Court Admissions

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


  • Litigation Counsel of America (LCA), fellow
  • Boyd County Bar Association, president (1989 - 1990)
  • Kentucky Bar Association, Board of Governors (1991 - 1993)
  • Kentucky Bar Foundation, president (2000 - 2001) and charter life fellow
  • National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Kentucky Defense Council
  • Civil Justice Reform Act, Advisory Committee 
  • Special Justice for the Kentucky Supreme Court
  • Life member to the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, Executive Committee 
  • Federal Joint Local Rules Committee for the Eastern and Western Kentucky Districts
  • River Cities Roundtable, an organization of business and arts leaders from the Tri-State area, past chair
  • Ashland Rotary Club, past president
  • Greater Ashland Area UK Alumni Club, past president
  • Ashland Public Education Foundation, past member of the board
  • Boy Scout Council, past member of the board
  • Senior Citizens’ Council, past member of the board


  • "Lawyer of the Year" in Lexington for Railroad Law by Best Lawyers® (2013, 2017)
  • Best Lawyers® for more than 10 years
  • Kentucky Super Lawyers, Transportation Law