Attorney Leo Ward leads BKBH’s Insurance Defense Group, and maintains an extensive insurance defense practice, much of which is devoted to large-scale environmental litigation, tort defense, and coverage matters. Additionally, Leo’s litigation practice includes defending employers against harassment, discrimination, and other wrongful workplace allegations, financial service clients against alleged state and federal law violations involving lending and mortgage regulations, and other clients in civil and commercial litigation matters. He is a partner in the firm’s Helena office.
Much of Leo’s practice is devoted to defending insureds in a wide range of areas, including toxic tort and environmental liability, product liability, personal injury, employment, and commercial litigation matters. In addition to defending insureds concerning underlying claims, Leo also represents insurance companies in providing coverage opinions, reservation of rights, loss recovery, and other general liability matters.
Leo has significant experience in defending clients in complex environmental litigation, including defending hundreds of claims involving asbestos exposure at the Superfund site in Libby, Montana. Clients in this matter included insureds, those involved with asbestos mining, manufacturers and resellers of asbestos products, and employers.
Leo’s workers’ compensation practice is devoted to representing self-insured businesses, insured companies, and insurers in complex and high financial exposure workers’ compensation cases involving fatalities, catastrophic injuries, and toxic tort exposure. His clients include local school districts, cities and towns, insurance companies and insurance groups, and large and small private businesses.
Leo has significant appellate experience in representing insurers, employers, and large institutional clients before the Montana Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Human Rights Bureau, and the Workers’ Compensation Court. On behalf of clients, he has written a number of amicus briefs to the Montana Supreme Court, and he and the firm are frequently retained to appeal cases that were previously tried by other firms.
Employment Defense and Counseling
In his employment defense and counseling practice, Leo advises and represents employer clients in a wide range of employment law matters, including sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, discrimination, and human rights violations, in addition to representing employers in general business litigation. Leo also assists employers through drafting contracts, developing human resources policies, and providing proactive general business counsel.
Financial Services Litigation
Since the housing crisis in 2008, financial services companies have been subjected to countless lawsuits involving alleged mortgage fraud, as well as violations of mortgage and loan servicing regulations. Leo represents financial services companies in these matters, as well as in other high-stakes litigation.
Leo was born in South Bend, Indiana and raised in Helena, Montana by an English professor and a Chemistry instructor. He received his bachelor’s degree in English, magna cum laude, from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, his master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Notre Dame, and His J.D., with high honors, from the University of Montana School of Law. During his undergraduate and graduate years, he worked as a security guard, keno caller, grave digger, videographer, business machine salesman, fitness director, and racquetball instructor.
Leo and his wife have four adult sons. He enjoys mountain biking, running, hiking, spinning, cross-training, weightlifting, racquetball, and reading history, philosophy and fiction, travel, and many other outdoor and indoor activities. He served as a board member, vice president, and president of Helena Youth Soccer Association and was responsible for initiating the development of a large, multi-field complex, which hosts local and statewide competitions and tournaments.
- J.D., with high honors, University of Montana School of Law
- M.A. (English Literature), University of Notre Dame
- B.A. (English), Magna Cum Laude, St. John’s University
- Montana (All state courts)
- United States District Court for the District of Montana
- State Bar of Montana, Member
- American Bar Association, Member
- Montana Defense Trial Lawyers Association, Member
- Helena Youth Soccer Association, Former President, Vice-President, and Board Member
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent ranking
- Named to Mountain West Super Lawyers