Stephen Smiley Kent is a member of pioneer Nevada families, growing up in Fallon, Nevada, working in the family grocery, lumber, hardware, real estate and ranching businesses. Steve’s Great, Great Grand Father I.H. Kent came to Nevada in 1867. After selling horses he brought to Virginia City, Nevada from Canada he started a ranch in Stillwater, Nevada. In 1897 the family opened a grocery store in Fallon, Nevada. Steve’s maternal side of the family are pioneer ranchers who operated the 10,000+ acre Smiley Ranch in Star Valley, Nevada for over 100 years. Growing up Steve worked in the family grocery store Kent’s Supermarket as a bag boy, stocker, checker, produce manager and truck driver. Steve’s family were Nevada outdoors and history buffs so typical family outings were traveling to Nevada ghost towns or duck, pheasant, chucker or deer hunting throughout Nevada. He graduated from the University of Nevada Reno and then attended University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, graduating in 1980 where he took constitutional law from Anthony Kennedy who later became U.S. Supreme Court Justice. While at McGeorge Steve was awarded Second Place in the McGeorge Moot Court Competition. He was then a law clerk for State District Court Judge William N. Forman. During his clerkship Steve met and worked with Judges and staff of the Second Judicial District Court learning the intricacies of court operation. In 1981, he began his practice in insurance defense, working with several of Nevada’s most well-known defense lawyers James Logan and George Vargas handling auto defense and general liability matters. He left Vargas and Bartlett in 1984 with Governor Robert List to go to Beckley, Singleton, DeLanoy Jemison and List where he became a partner and managing partner of the Reno office. While at Beckley Singleton he worked with Governors Robert List, Governor Robert Miller and Drake DeLanoy. In 1997 Steve became a partner in Woodburn and Wedge where he continued his law practice until 2010 when he started his own boutique defense trial practice, Kent Law, located in downtown Reno, two blocks from the State and Federal Courts.
In his 35 years of experience in 3 of Nevada’s largest law firms and now his own firm, Steve has handled a very wide variety of matters in not only Reno and Las Vegas but also throughout rural Nevada. The types of matters over this 39 year period include business litigation, corporate and partnership disputes, real estate litigation, personal injury defense and, auto, truck, and bus injury claims, aviation crash and accident litigation, premises liability, insurance coverage opinions and litigation, corporate control/shareholder disputes, debt collection, construction defect claims, licensing, administrative and regulatory law disputes, realtor/broker liability, professional engineer liability, and real estate sales and financing transactions. Steve has also been appointed arbitrator in 49 cases in the Nevada Arbitration Program.
During his time at Vargas and Bartlett and Beckley Singleton Steve began working on Aviation litigation. Over the years Steve developed an expertise handling aviation cases and is one of the top aviation defense attorneys in Nevada. Steve has also handled over seventeen appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court, click on the Appellate Law tab to see a list of reported decisions.
Steve has been asked to teach seminars to other lawyers and has authored several articles including Exclusionary Clauses in Aviation Insurance Policies, DRI Covered Events, April, 2004, Insurance Coverage Law in Nevada, NBI 1998, Limiting Damages in Nevada, NBI 1990, Nevada Uninsured Motorist Law, State Bar of Nevada, 1995, The Legal Issues of Problem Collections in Nevada, NBI 1989 Washoe County Bar Assoc. 2013, and Nevada Discovery, Pretrial and Trial Procedures, PESI, 1988, click on the Articles tab to see these.
With 35 years as a trial lawyer Steve has tried many cases obtaining many defense verdicts for his defense clients as well as a million dollar verdict. Please click on the Verdicts to see some of Steve’s successes. One of Steve’s most challenging cases was defending an employee of the Papoose Palace in 66 civil suits wherein it was alleged Steve’s client sexually abused over 70 children at a day care school. Mr. Kent has been involved in several other civil sexual abuse cases, including the Montessori case where he was involved in insurance coverage for those claims. Steve was also selected as local counsel to defend the Reno Air Racing Association as a result of the crash of an aircraft the resulted in 10 spectators deaths.
Steve was recognized in 2109 as one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators for Nevada and from 2015 through 2019 as one of The Best Lawyers In America. Steve is a twenty year Certified Civil Trial Advocate with the National Board of Trial Attorneys; Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, Super Lawyer from 2007 through 2019, a member of the Washoe County Bar Association; American Bar Association (Litigation Section, Tort and Insurance Practice Sections; Committees on Trial Techniques, Insurance Coverage and Business Torts); State Bar of Nevada (Member, Disciplinary Committee; Former Young Lawyers Section Board Member; Former Insurance Committee Member; Former Fee Dispute Committee Member); Northern California-Nevada Association of Defense Counsel; Defense Research Institute; International Association of Defense Counsel (Member, Committees on: Aviation; Life, Health and Accident Insurance; Casualty Insurance; Medical Malpractice);; member of Reno Rotary; and the Reno Rodeo Association.
Steve has been married to Mayla for 39 years and they have 3 adult children. Steve’s hobbies are boating on Lake Tahoe, driving sports cars, and snow skiing.