Sophia Holley is a partner in the firm’s Litigation and Real Estate Groups, practicing in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. She represents clients in areas of zoning, land use and development, eminent domain, and real estate value reductions. Sophia started her career as a commercial litigator, and has successful first chair trial and judgment victories before the jury, bench, and American Arbitration Association. She has been recognized as a PLEDGE Emerging Leader with the John W. Peck Cincinnati-NKY Chapter of the Federal Bar Association based upon this trial work. Sophia’s unique skillset permits her to advocate for clients before local government and administrative bodies, and to seek review of their decisions in state and federal courts when needed.
Land Use & Zoning, Real Property Tax & Eminent Domain
As a land use and zoning attorney, Sophia helps clients get the green light for zoning approvals and other entitlements necessary for their land development needs, including residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use developments. Sophia has extensive experience in administrative processes related to plans, zoning applications, conditional use permits, and variances, and she regularly assists clients in asserting vested and non-conforming rights. Sophia has obtained significant real property reductions for commercial property owners, as well as compensation for the taking of property in eminent domain matters well beyond the condemning authorities’ initial offers of compensation.
Litigation & Trial Practice
Sophia has extensive courtroom experience, with successful first chair trial and judgment victories before the jury, bench, and the American Arbitration Association. This includes complete plaintiff’s victories and the award of attorney’s fees. Sophia also has broad experience in defending and prosecuting temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, with first-chair successes on both sides. Her practice includes handling complex litigation involving state, county, township and municipal legislative and administrative regulations, including zoning litigation.
Sophia is active with the Cincinnati Federal Bar Association and is co-chair of the firm’s Women’s Initiative Committee. Prior to the practice of law, she supported veterans in the housing sector as a founding member of the inaugural Executive Committee of Louisville’s first Stand Down/Homeless Connect. Sophia is the former president of the University of Kentucky Taekwondo Club, and fenced left-handed foil with the University of Kentucky Fencing Club. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband and twin sons.
Land Use & Zoning Success
- Approval from Wyoming City Council to remove restrictive covenant on deed, permitting the subdivision of property.
- Approval of variance before Ohio Township, notwithstanding inadvertent violation of existing zoning ordinance.
- Approval from Wyoming Board of Zoning Appeals for sign variance.
- Successful opposition to conditional use permit for parking lot in residentially zoned area before Sycamore Township Board of Zoning Appeals.
- Approval of variances for additional parking, buffer, and fencing from City of Cincinnati Zoning Hearing Examiner for large commercial property.
- Approval from City of Hamilton for conditional use application for operation of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Clinic & Facility dispensing methadone and/or buprenorphine (Suboxone) to help fight the growing opioid epidemic.
Litigation & Trial Practice Success
Fern Exposition Services, LLC v. Transplant Life Foundation, Case No. CV-17-883170 (Cuyahoga Cty.)
- Plaintiff’s first-chair victory in a 3-day jury trial relating to commercial dispute
- Jury award exceeded what was requested by Plaintiff and permitted under law, requiring a remittitur
Enterprise Fleet Management, Inc. v. Mike Albert Leasing, Inc., et al., Case No. A1806024 (Hamilton Cty.)
- Defense first-chair victory in 3-day bench trial on motion for preliminary injunction
Johnnie D. Cook v. Woodard et al., Case No. 1:17-cv-532 (S.D. Ohio)
- First-chair argument and success with numerous motions in limine
Security Systems Equipment Corp. v. Alarm Services Network, Inc., AAA Case No. 01-17-0002-0340
- First-chair representation of plaintiff in AAA matter relating to contract dispute
- Plaintiff’s victory, including award of attorneys’ fees
DXP Enterprises, Inc. v. Blackwelder, Case No. A1801995 (Hamilton Cty.)
- First-chair success in drafting, arguing, and obtaining temporary restraining order
Union Home Mortgage Corp. v. Filjones, Case No. A1702799 (Hamilton Cty.)
- Defense victory in defending motion for preliminary injunction before the bench
Worldwide Equipment Leasing, Inc. v. Allen Paving, Case No. 16-CI-00037 (Breckinridge Cty.)
- Successfully argued summary judgment, motion granted for client from the bench
Keller Williams Advisors v. Sinclair Building Group, LLC, et al., Case No. A1603830 (Hamilton Cty.)
- Successfully argued motion to dismiss, motion granted from the bench
Kenton County Airport Board v. Bell, et al., Case No. 17-CI-00020 (Boone Cty.)
- Successfully drafted and argued motion to reconsider partial summary judgment
Neyer/Columbia Square, LLC v. Sidekix Saucy Asian Grill, Case No. A1704879 (Hamilton Cty.)
- Successfully argued and obtained default judgment against Defendant, despite opposition, obtaining $95,672 judgment
Professional and Community Involvement
Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Membership Committee, 2022-Present
American Planning Association, Ohio Chapter, 2022-Present
KMK Women's Initiative Committee, Co-Chair, 2021-Present
Cincinnati Federal Bar Association, Gender Equity Committee, 2018-Present
Cincinnati Federal Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, 2018
The Potter Stewart American Inn of Court, 2018-19
United Way BOLD Leadership, 2017
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Cincy Next, Class 1
Cincinnati Bar Association
Kentucky Bar Association
Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, Economic Empowerment Committee, 2010
AmeriCorps Disability Accessibility, Bluegrass Area Regional Development District, 2009
Awards & Recognition
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch, 2022
Promoting Lawyer Excellence & Driving Gender Equality (PLEDGE) Honoree, John W. Peck Cincinnati-NKY Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, 2019
YWCA Rising Star, 2018
News & Resources
- Eminent Domain Insight: Ohio Supreme Court Weighs in on Challenging the Necessity of a Public Use in a Utility Condemnation Action
- Challenging Real Property Valuation under Ohio's Property Tax Complaint Procedure and Ohio Revised Code Ohio § 5715.19Coldstream Life,
- Volume 2 | Issue 2
- Volume 2 | Issue 1
- For the Record: The Official Newsletter of the John W. Peck Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Chapter of the FBA, Summer 2018
- The CBA Report,
What do you enjoy about being an attorney?
Advocating for people. I have a unique position among many real estate attorneys in that I started as a traditional litigator, and have a number of first-chair victories under my belt before the American Arbitration Association, the bench, and the jury. I’ve been to trial before, I can zealously advocate for clients in trial, and I can work to avoid litigation where appropriate.
A favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is competing with my two older brothers, who I idolized as a child. They formed a club when we were kids called “Boyzee Inc.”—I was not permitted to join—and they utilized their collective additional 4 years of life experience to their advantage when we “played” (e.g., they convinced me to trade my dimes for pennies, because pennies were bigger). Growing up with them I had to learn to stand my ground and this grew into a love for litigation. I should add, my brothers have since grown up to be incredibly thoughtful, caring, and fair adults (though they should really pay back the many dimes they still owe me).
Best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received was a message from my dad when I was a teenager: “Do what you enjoy the most. No one expects you to do any more than that. It all takes time so you might as well enjoy it as you go along.” It’s a good reminder to enjoy the ride.
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
J.D., University of Cincinnati College of Law, 2013, Order of the Coif, Law Review Executive Board
B.A., University of Kentucky, 2008, magna cum laude