Graydon Head


John B. Pinney

John is a senior trial lawyer in the Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Client Services Department and chairs the International Practice Group, focusing on international dispute resolution. He has served as lead trial lawyer in numerous complex commercial, international, banking, securities, products liability, insurance and trust litigation cases, including class actions. John has practiced in state and federal courts and before arbitration tribunals in approximately 35 states and foreign countries. In the past fifteen years, John has represented clients in a wide variety of business disputes, including successful representations in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration against a large Korean company, a federal court litigation against a Canadian government-owned corporation, an arbitration in Hong Kong that was settled through mediation coordinated by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, a securities arbitration customer claim resulting in a multimillion dollar settlement, the defense of a federal court consumer class action, the successful prosecution of a contract claim against an Italian manufacturer, and a case where a large sum of stolen funds was recovered by coordinating court actions in Turkey, Cyprus, Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands. He is also experienced in obtaining evidence abroad under Letters Rogatory and The Hague Evidence Convention as well as obtaining evidence in the U.S. for use in foreign proceedings. John has additionally had extensive experience involving both the enforcement of and defense against enforcement of foreign country judgments in U.S. courts and the enforcement of U.S. judgments abroad.

John is a frequent speaker on enforcement of foreign judgments and on international commercial arbitration. He has presented at international litigation and arbitration programs given by the Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria (2001, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012); the Cincinnati Bar Association in Cincinnati (2004 and 2012); the American Arbitration Association in Cincinnati (2004 and 2012); Hamilton Law Association at Niagara on the Lake, Ontario (2005); American Bar Association in Chicago (2005); Program on Foreign Investments in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2005) and Latin American Congress on International Business and Arbitration in Mar del Plata, Argentina (2005); Union Internationale des Avocats in Seville, Spain (2009), Istanbul (2010), Miami (2011) and Dresden (2012).

Throughout his career, John has been active with the American, International, Federal, Ohio State and Cincinnati Bar Associations and, more recently, with the Union Internationale des Avocats. He regularly attends and speaks at bar association conferences. John is a member of The American Bar Association's House of Delegates and the Cincinnati Bar Association's Board of Trustees. He also is the immediate past chair of the Ohio State Bar Association's Federal Courts and Practice Committee.

John also frequently represents clients on appeals in state and federal courts and is a Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference. He recently completed two terms as chair of the Rules Advisory Committee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Prior to joining Graydon Head, John served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Philip Pratt, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  Based on the grading and comments of his peers, John has been named one of Ohio’s Super Lawyers several times since 2004, and selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Arbitration, Commercial Litigation, International Arbitration-Commercial, International Arbitration-Governmental, and Mediation law from 2006-2016.  Also, John has been named The Best Lawyers in America “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Arbitration in 2014.  He is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell.



(513) 629-2730

(513) 333-4324

Mailing Address:
1900 Fifth Third Center, 511 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School), B.S., Economics, 1969

Law School:
University of Michigan, J.D., cum laude, 1972

Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation
- Board of Trustees
- Nominating and Governance Committee
American Bar Association, Member
- House of Delegates
- Litigation
- International and Dispute Resolution
Federal Bar Association, Member
- Civil CLE Chair for 2004 National Convention
Ohio State Bar Association, Member
- Federal Courts Committee, Past Chair (1990-1992), (2012-2014)
State Bar of Michigan, Member
- International Section
International Bar Association, Member
- Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation Committees
Cincinnati Bar Association, Board Member
Union International des Avocats, Member
- Litigation and Arbitration Commissions
Cincinnati Bar Association Arbitration Service, Panel of Arbitrators
International Arbitration Committee of International Institute for
  Conflict Prevention and Resolution
Center for Resolution of Disputes, Panel of Arbitrators
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, Panel of Arbitrators
Potter Stewart American Inn of Court, Master of the Bench,
  Executive Committee Member
Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, Life Member
Supreme Court Historical Society, Member
International Business Law Consortium, Salzburg, Austria,
  Primary Contact
Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, Board Member and
  Vice Chair

Bar Admissions:
Commonwealth of Kentucky
State of Michigan
State of Ohio
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

Areas of Practice:
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Banking & Financial Services
Business Litigation
Commercial Litigation
Insurance Disputes
International Arbitration & Dispute Resolution
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

John B. Pinney

On finishing law school in Ann Arbor in the early ’70s, John Pinney was invited to be a law clerk for a federal judge in Detroit. Philip Pratt was his name. He had a habit of asking his clerks to review each case. He’d have them write memoranda and offer recommendations as to how this or that case should be decided.

"He’d have you defend your recommendation,” John says, “and if he disagreed, he’d tell you why.  He wasn’t satisfied until the thing was resolved. What struck me most was that he regarded his clerks as a resource. He gave us that respect.”

On one occasion, John persuaded the judge his initial conclusion was wrong. The experience left an enduring impression. John has since often found himself in the role of mentor himself. Among those who have benefited, say those who work with him, are a current federal district judge and scores of Cincinnati attorneys. Ask anyone at Graydon Head – John makes himself readily available to help tackle the tough questions that come up all the time in litigation.

“There’s mentoring, where you have an on-going, longer term relationship,” he says, “and there’s helping. As with most people in this firm, my door is generally open. It’s extremely rare if someone asks for a moment that I’ll tell that person to come back later.

“My philosophy is, ‘Sure! What’s up?’ It’s stimulating to hear a problem and propose possible solutions – not that I take over the problem; that’s not what I do. But I do try to offer insight as to how an issue might be resolved. There’s an element of creativity in it that’s fulfilling. It’s like creating a path.”

Since his days as a law clerk in Detroit, John’s own path has taken him around the world. He loves to travel. It’s a good thing. His role for the past decade at Graydon Head has revolved around international business disputes. He jokes about having more or less answered the question of what he wants to do when he grows up – but he continues to have something to talk about in the way of aspirations:

“I’d like to leave a legacy practice with the Firm – a group of five, six or seven lawyers who have practices similar to what I’m doing here now, to have them continue that work. No one else in Cincinnati does this kind of work.”

In John’s opinion, the key to this kind of work, or any legal work, is the ability to break free of formulas and create one’s own path. It’s what has drawn him to be also active with local community organizations, in roles ranging from board chair to advisor.

“Choosing a theme for a case that’s going to be presented to a jury requires judgment, discernment. Maybe most of all, it requires an ability to pick out a particular piece of the picture you’re presented with and build on it in a way that resonates with your jury, a way that touches their lives, too. That’s what wins cases.”


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