Vanessa B. Cantley
Partner & Louisville Personal Injury Attorney
Vanessa Cantley is a trial attorney with an unwavering passion for justice.
Justice isn't just a word or a slogan to Vanessa. It's what our
nation's founders risked their lives for. It's what separates
us from the cheaters, the bullies, and the barbarians. It's what drives
not only her law practice but her life. This viewpoint has helped Vanessa
experience great success representing injured individuals and families
in Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana state and federal courts.
In addition to Vanessa's successes at trial, she has also negotiated
millions of dollars in settlements for clients: from babies not yet born,
to elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Vanessa also has valuable legal experience from the defense perspective.
She clerked for Frost Brown Todd, LLC, the largest defense firm in the
region, while in law school, and was offered a position upon graduation.
However, Vanessa decided early in her career that she wanted to represent
injured people rather than insurance companies or big corporations. That
decision led her to decline that offer and others to join the most prestigious
defense firms in the region as a practicing attorney. Today, she only
represents individuals and families.
Vanessa earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the Louis D. Brandeis
School of Law at the University of Louisville, graduating with honors.
While in law school, she was elected by the law school student body to
serve as their President. She was a member of the American Trial Lawyers
Association mock trial team and the National Moot Court Team and earned
the highest grade in her class for Trial Practice. Vanessa also founded
the nation's first Student Bar Foundation, which now serves as a model
to other law schools nationwide.
Vanessa holds two Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees, one in Psychology and
another in Sociology, from Bellarmine College where she graduated with
honors. While at Bellarmine, Vanessa was a four-year member of the American
Mock Trial Association program. She earned top attorney in the nation
honors for two years from thousands of students, an honor that has not
been achieved by any other competitor in over 30 years since the program's
inception. Vanessa was also a member of the National Championship Team
during her senior year. On the road to a national championship, her team
bested many elite programs such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton,
and over 300 other schools.
Associations & Honors
Vanessa was recently certified as a life member of both the Million Dollar
Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum of the Top
Trial Lawyers of America. The Million Dollar Advocates Forum is recognized
as one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.
Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million
dollar verdicts and settlements. The organization was founded in 1993
and there are approximately 3000 members located throughout the country.
Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.
Vanessa is consistently voted by her peers as one of Louisville's top
personal injury attorneys. This distinction is recognized in a poll conducted by
Louisville Magazine. Vanessa has also been named a
Kentucky Super Lawyers® every year since 2013, and is the youngest plaintiff's injury attorney
to earn the recognition. For the last two years, Vanessa has been named
to the elite SuperLawyers list of “Top 50” attorneys in Kentucky.
Vanessa's litigation practice focuses on catastrophic injury actions
She also represents select victims of employment discrimination and wrongful
termination. Vanessa has been featured on the news many times over the
last several years for her pro bono work representing victims of bullying
in schools, and she is often called upon by local news outlets to provide
legal analysis of current events and cases covered by the media.
Since 2011, Vanessa has developed a trial practice consisting of trying
cases for other attorneys when settlement negotiations have failed. Vanessa
has been described by her colleagues in legal blogs and trial skills seminars
as "intrepid," "truly gifted in the courtroom," and
as having an "unmatched ability to connect with people." She
is often referred cases by judges in whose courts she has tried cases
- something Vanessa considers the highest compliment.
Vanessa currently serves as President-Elect of the Kentucky Justice Association
(KJA)– a statewide organization of her peers - and the Louisville
Bar Foundation. She is regularly called upon by the KJA to debate the
issue of tort reform in the media and other public forums. She also testifies
in Kentucky House and Senate committees for or against bills that effect
the civil justice system and injured individuals’ rights.
In 2017, Vanessa founded “Empathy in Action,” (EIA) a non-profit
organization which will focus on community-oriented programming to unify
the greater Louisville area despite residential, financial, religious,
cultural, political and physical differences. Vanessa is proud to announce
the opening of EIA in January 2018 at 1310 Bardstown Road in the Highlands
community of Louisville, Kentucky. Please follow Empathy in Action on
social media for updates!
Vanessa grew up in a small town in Indiana, where she is also licensed
to practice law. She currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with her
husband and their two sons. Vanessa's greatest pride, aside from her
family, is the relationship she enjoys with her clients, both current
and former--many of whom have become good friends.