Jennifer Kinsley is one of the nation’s leading constitutional law practitioners and scholars. For more than 22 years, she has represented a broad range of clients, from successful business owners to people living in poverty, to ensure that their rights are protected and their voices heard.
Jennifer is currently a practicing lawyer and tenured Professor of Law at the Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law, where she teaches courses in constitutional law, criminal law, and practical lawyering skills. Her research, which has been widely cited and is included in leading constitutional law textbooks, focuses on the First Amendment right of free expression as it is applied within the context of criminal cases and related criminal justice reform.
Jennifer also previously served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law for nearly ten years, where she taught classes in specialized appeals and juvenile law and served as a supervising attorney in the Indigent Defense Clinic. Her teaching has literally spanned the globe, as she has trained judges in Turkey and lawyers in Russia on the American right of free speech and American constitutional traditions.
Jennifer has handled more than 80 cases in appellate courts across the country, including the First District Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court, and the federal courts of appeals for the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits. Her current case load includes cases pending in the federal appellate courts in New York and Ohio; in the federal trial courts in New York, Michigan, and Ohio; and throughout Ohio’s state courts. She frequently volunteers her services to represent clients in need free of charge.
Jennifer believes that the law can be an agent for positive change in the community. Over the years, her work has led to the radical overhaul of Ohio’s juvenile prison system, to greater protections for incarcerated victims of human trafficking, and to the dismissal of hundreds of criminal charges against peaceful protestors. In addition, she has worked collaboratively with the Cincinnati Police Department to create a national model for police interactions with people experiencing homelessness and was a leading architect of the City of Cincinnati’s bail reform ordinance.
Jennifer is a married mother of 5, has run 15 marathons (and counting), and is an avid sports fan. Her husband is the CEO of a local architecture and design company. Together they enjoy attending concerts and exploring Cincinnati’s culinary scene.
In addition to her professional practice, Jennifer is deeply committed to community service and engagement. She frequently volunteers her time to social services organizations, including preparing and serving meals at Ronald McDonald House, Tender Mercies, and Sunday Night Live; serving as a mentor through the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative; and working with children in public schools. She has also served on numerous nonprofit boards, including Mutual Dance Theater and as the President of the Board of Contemporary Dance Theater.
Jennifer is also a leader in the legal and academic communities. She has held numerous leadership positions in national legal organizations over the course of her career, including President of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and Co-Chair of the Amicus Committee of the National Association for Public Defense. Jennifer is a proud graduate of the 2020-2021 Class of Leadership Northern Kentucky and was a 2020-2021 Fellow of the Bluegrass Academic Leadership Academy.
In 2021, Jennifer was named Chase College of Law Professor of the Year. Jennifer has been named by her peers as a First Amendment Rising Star in Super Lawyers Magazine five times and has appeared on the Best Lawyers in America list for First Amendment lawyers for five consecutive years. She is also the recipient of the Children’s Law Center Child Advocacy Partnership Award and has been recognized by City Beat for her pro bono work on multiple occasions.
Jennifer was born in Charleston, South Carolina. The daughter of an Air Force veteran and union worker, she spent her childhood living in various parts of the Deep South, including Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, before settling in Jacksonville, Florida. She attended the University of Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with Highest Honors and Phi Beta Kappa recognition in under three years. While at the University of Florida, Jennifer spent a summer studying international conflicts at the prestigious Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. She also obtained a minor in dance performance and was awarded the National Dance Minor of the Year award.
Jennifer earned her law degree from Duke University School of Law, one of the top law schools in the country. At Duke, Jennifer was the President of the Prisoners Rights Project, a founding member of the Criminal Law Society, and participated in two legal clinics that enabled her to work with underserved clients, the Death Penalty Defense Clinic and the Criminal Law Clinic. Demonstrating her commitment to service at an early age, Jennifer spent her law school summers donating her time to clients who could not afford representation, first at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York City and next at the Multicounty Public Defenders Office in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jennifer moved to Cincinnati in 1999 on the day of her graduation from law school and fell in love with the diversity, culture, and sense of history that define the Hamilton County community.