Keating Muething & Klekamp Elects Three New Partners

The Cincinnati law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL (KMK Law®) is pleased to announce that it has elected three new partners: James C. Kezele, Joseph E. Lehnert, and Jacob D. Rhode. 

James C. Kezele represents public and private companies and municipalities to ensure their compliance with federal and state environmental, energy and product permits and regulations, as well as on the processes for applying for, negotiating the terms of, and complying with Title V permits, Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits, NPDES wastewater permits, and various other environmental permits.  Kezele also works with clients and their consultants to perform facility or programmatic environmental audits and helps prepare for facility inspections and to develop regulatory response.  Moreover, Kezele frequently counsels clients through transactions involving the purchase and sale of contaminated properties (including Brownfield of VAP redevelopment), and has significant experience evaluating environmental due diligence and performing consultant oversight. Kezele also advises clients on mineral leasing.  Prior to joining KMK, Kezele was an associate for a mid-sized law firm in Cincinnati, Ohio and was a member of the firm’s litigation group where he advised and represented clients with respect to environmental compliance and environmental litigation, labor and employment law, transportation law, and general commercial litigation.  Kezele earned his law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law in 2012.  Prior to law school he served as a Paralegal Specialist for the United States Department of Justice - Environment & Natural Resources Division where he gained valuable experience in environmental compliance and environmental litigation.  Kezele also served as a summer clerk for the Honorable Chief Judge Susan J. Dlott in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio during the summer of 2011. He earned his B.A. degree from Claremont McKenna College.  Kezele is the current Chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee. Kezele is admitted to practice law in Ohio and Kentucky.

Joseph E. Lehnert focuses his practice primarily on negotiating and advocating on behalf of KMK clients in a wide array of business disputes, with a concentration in the areas of creditors’ rights and bankruptcy litigation.  He has represented secured and unsecured creditors, debtors, lenders, investors, purchasers, commercial landlords and tenants, and receivers and other court-appointed fiduciaries in state and federal trial and appellate court proceedings, including collection, eviction, foreclosure, receivership, dissolution, and bankruptcy reorganization and liquidation.  Lehnert also advises clients in commercial loan workouts and out-of-court restructurings, including loan modifications, forbearance agreements, and loan sales.  Lehnert is significantly involved in KMK’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, including serving on the firm’s Women’s Initiative and contributing to the KMK Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter.  He has also served on the firm’s associate liaison committee, and he regularly participates in the firm’s attorney recruitment efforts and summer associate program.  Lehnert earned his law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2012.  He earned his B.A. from Xavier University in 2009, magna cum laude.  Lehnert is admitted to practice law in Ohio.

Jacob D. Rhode assists clients with litigation and dispute resolution, helping develop and implement strategies to successfully resolve corporate disputes. He primarily works on complex commercial and financial services litigation and class actions, and also focuses on defending ERISA fiduciary duty and other related claims. Rhode also has experience with contract and insurance disputes, fraud and business torts, and False Claims Act and qui tam litigation. He is a member of KMK’s Cybersecurity & Privacy team, and assists clients with related cybersecurity preparedness and breach issues.  Rhode earned his law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2012, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, where he served as Managing Editor of the Ohio State University Law Journal and was a member of the Evidence Moot Court Team.  Before graduating from law school, Rhode worked in the Legal Counsel's office of the Governor of Ohio, and as a judicial extern for Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor of the Supreme Court of Ohio.  Rhode earned his B.A. from Wheaton College (Illinois) in 2009, cum laude.  More recently, Rhode completed the Mini-M.B.A. program at Miami University in 2016. Prior to joining KMK, Rhode practiced law with a commercial litigation boutique in Columbus, Ohio, where he represented clients in a variety of complex and high-stakes commercial disputes and class actions.  Rhode is admitted to practice law in Ohio.

About Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
The law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL (KMK Law®), based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a nationally-recognized law firm delivering sophisticated legal solutions to businesses of all sizes—from Fortune 50 corporations to start-up companies. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers® 2019 recognized KMK as a leading law firm in Ohio in Corporate and Mergers & Acquisitions, General Commercial Litigation, Real Estate, Labor & Employment, and Bankruptcy & Restructuring. KMK Law earned five National Rankings in Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, Project Finance, Law and Venture Capital Law and 37 Metropolitan Rankings in the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers publication of its 2019 “Best Law Firms” Report. Founded in 1954, KMK has approximately 120 lawyers and a support staff of 150 employees. Additional information is available at

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