Kent Wellington’s family never stayed in one place too long. That can be hard for a kid, but it wasn’t for Kent. He figured out early on how to land on his feet. He had a confidence he could fit in and build new friendships anywhere.
He thanks his parents for that. They had other jobs, he says, but it was clear to Kent and his sister that they saw their most important job as being parents. He has a place in his heart for kids who don’t have that same good fortune.
“About half of the 30,000 kids in Cincinnati Public Schools are seriously at risk,” he says. That’s why he’s been involved in mentoring almost since coming to Cincinnati in 1991. It’s why he served as chairman of the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative Board for 11 years and a mentor to various vulnerable kids “full of spit, vinegar and potential” (as Kent describes them) over the past three decades, among his other civic roles.
Kent likes to load up his plate. At Kenyon College, where he double-majored in English and economics, he also played football and basketball. When he joined the Firm, he continued to play basketball four nights a week, but he also took up triathlons – short ones and long ones.
His competitive spirit, a natural outgrowth of the confidence his parents instilled, serves him well in law. As a lawyer, he says, you compete. You problem solve.
“The arena is different, but it still gets the juices flowing. It’s great when you can come through for the client. When the verdict comes in and it’s in your favor – or better, when a case is dismissed at summary judgment and the client doesn’t have to sit through a seven-day jury trial.
“Over time, when you really get to know the client and the client’s industry, you can bring more value to the relationship because you’re not just advising on the legal issues. When I was younger, I used to stick to legal advice. Now, I’m often able to advise beyond the scope of a situation’s legal aspects, into its wider practicalities. In helping clients evaluate risk, non-legal issues may outweigh the legal risks.”
These days, Kent and his two grown kids channel their energy into what he calls their two family ministries. One they picked: mentoring vulnerable kids through the Saturday Hoops program. Now in its 16th year, Saturday Hoops serves more than 650 kids with 600 volunteers each year. The program includes two healthy meals, two weekly speakers, and a host of activities, including basketball, art, yoga, circuit training, and reading.
The other family ministry picked them: cancer. Now in its 13th year, Kent started the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer (KWF) to honor the legacy of his late wife. To date, KWF has sent more than 1,000 women and families LIVING with cancer on vacations and other fun-only activities. With 11 chapters throughout the U.S. and several more on the way, KWF is on the move. Just like Kent.
Kent has a diverse practice with an emphasis in litigation and labor/employment law, and advising start-ups, having run his own family foundation for the past 12 years. Kent has tried cases to favorable jury verdicts in all the local state and federal courts, but prides himself on avoiding litigation and getting cases resolved quickly and cost effectively. Kent is the past chair of the Firm’s Litigation Group and serves on the firm’s Executive Committee.
Professionally, he is most proud of the strong client relationships and client friendships he has developed over the years. Kent was described by the GM/CEO of one large publically traded client as follows: “What has always impressed me about Kent is his emotional intelligence. He exudes a great deal of confidence and he is aggressive in his pursuit of any issue, yet he is compassionate and caring in the process. He is able to make all kinds of people feel very comfortable around him.” Based on client comments like this and the grading and comments of his peers, Kent is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell.
Since 2005, Kent has been recognized every year as a “Super Lawyer” (or “Rising Star”). Only 2.5 percent of Ohio lawyers receive this honor. In 2004, the Cincinnati “Business Courier” named Kent (along with his late wife, Karen) two of Cincinnati’s top “Forty under 40.” Kent also has received awards from the American (1997), Ohio (2000) and Cincinnati (2008) Bar Associations, The Ohio State University College of Law (2001), the Cincinnatus Society (2002), the Cincinnati Park Board (2015).
Kent has two primary passions outside of work: mentoring vulnerable kids (for the past 28 years) and putting some FUN on the calendars of families LIVING with cancer (for the past 12 years). The leader of our Graydon on Main Office, Kent also spends a significant amount of time in our downtown OTR neighborhood through Saturday Hoops, Dribblethon, CYC mentoring, and other not-for-profit, entrepreneurial, and faith-based groups. On September 26, 2006, President George W. Bush presented Kent with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Kent also received leadership and advocacy awards in 2004 from both The Arc-Hamilton County (MR/DD) and W.E.B. DuBois Academy (OTR), from St. Aloysius Orphanage (in 2011), the “Linda K. Heines Award of Inspiration and Hope” (with his two children) from the Breast Cancer Alliance in 2013, and the "Clement L. Buenger Award for Leadership" from the United Way in 2018. Kent is also a graduate of the United Way BOLD program, the Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers (“CALL), and Leadership Cincinnati (Class 39).
Kent resides in Mt. Lookout and his son Robby (24) and daughter Angeline (22) live nearby. Kent also enjoys biking, running, swimming and coaching basketball. He has competed in triathlons since the early 1990’s, including three Escape from Alcatraz triathlons and several 1/2 Ironman’s.