Adrian D. Thompson

Partner-in-Charge / Chief Diversity Officer Cleveland


Adrian provides counsel for private sector clients on issues including equal employment opportunity litigation, wage-hour problems, employment of the disabled, federal housing, and other labor matters. Co-partner-in-charge of the Cleveland office, Adrian is also a member of the firm's executive committee and serves as Taft’s chief diversity officer. He helps to drive the firm’s commitment and strategy regarding diversity and inclusion across our offices and in the communities that we serve.

Adrian represents school districts in contract negotiations, grievance arbitration, litigation, education of the disabled, and employment discrimination matters. He served as chief legal counsel for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for eight years.

Adrian is president emeritus of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. He helped to oversee the activities of Legal Aid’s 55 staff attorneys, 90 staff members and 1,400 volunteer lawyers across four offices that serve low income clients in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties. Adrian is the incoming vice president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and is the co-chair of its Diversity & Inclusion Strategies Committee.

Adrian formerly served on the Commission on the Rules of Superintendence for Ohio Courts, having been appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. In this role, he was one of 19 members who represented various judges, associations, attorneys, magistrates, clerks of court and court administrators. Adrian is also a member of the Supreme Court of Ohio's Task Force on Commercial Dockets.

Adrian is an active member of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Committee. He is an active member of the Norman Minor Bar Association and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, where he serves on the Thought Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, and Community Trust Committees, as well as being one of nine Professionalism Conciliation panel members. He was recognized as 2020 "Lawyer of the Year" for Education Law by Best Lawyers in America. He was also honored as a Leading Lawyer for Education Law and as an Ohio Super Lawyer for Employment & Labor Law. In 2020, Adrian was named to the Lawyers of Color Power List, which recognizes the most influential minority attorneys and allies in the United States.


  • Honoree, Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, Education Law, Cleveland (2020)

  • Honoree, Lawyers of Color Power List 2020

  • Top 100 Honoree, The National Black Lawyers

  • Named as One of the “500 Most Influential Leaders in Cleveland” by Cleveland Magazine, 2021 and 2022

  • Honoree, Ohio Board of Professional Conduct

  • “Best in Class for Diversity in the Legal Profession,” Greater Cleveland Partnership (2018)

  • Honoree, Best Lawyers in America® (2012 - present)

  • Honoree, Ohio Super Lawyers, Employment & Labor 

    (2015 - 2016, 2021 - 2022)

  • Taft Legacy Award Honoree (2017)

  • Honoree, Inside Business Magazine Leading Lawyers, Education (2007)

All Service Areas


  • The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (1986)
  • Bowling Green State University (1983)


  • Federal - 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal - Northern District of Ohio
  • State - Ohio

Speeches and Publications


Panelist, Greater Cleveland Partnership Equity and Inclusion program, “DEI Assessments and Measurements that Promote Change,” Feb. 9, 2021

Presenter, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s 2021 New Lawyer Bootcamp, Feb. 29, 2021

Panelist, “Establishing an Inclusive and Inviting Environment: A Panel Discussion on Race and Racism in the Workplace and the American Legal System,” Webinar, Aug. 20, 2020

Panelist, Best Lawyers COVID-19 & Education Panel (here), April 29, 2020


Quoted, Crain's Cleveland Business article, “Step one: Measuring diversity is the start to an inclusive workplace,” March 13, 2021

Quoted, Cincinnati Business Courier article, “Taft sets new high bar for boosting representation of women,” Jan. 22, 2021

Office of Special Education Programs Explains Implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act During the COVID-19 Pandemic, July 7, 2020

Department of Agriculture Issued Nationwide Waivers for Summer Nutrition Program, June 30, 2020

Requirements and Considerations for Educational Institutions Serving Children with Special Needs Under IDEA, Rehabilitation Act and ADA, May 8, 2020

House Bill 197 Provisions Regarding School Leadership Evaluations, Education Metrics and Distance Learning, April 28, 2020

Department of Education’s DeVos Announces $3 Billion Relief Grant for Governors, March 28, 2020

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association


  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association

    President-Elect, 2021-2022
    Vice President, 2020-2021
    Co-Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Strategies Committee

  • Greater Cleveland Partnership

    Member, Advancing Middle Market Progress (AMMP) Steering Committee
    Member, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Board

  • Ohio State Bar Association


  • Supreme Court of Ohio

    Member, Commission on the Rules of Superintendence for Ohio Courts

  • The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

    President Emeritus, Board of Directors

  • Norman S. Minor Bar Association


  • The National Black Lawyers Top 100


  • Ohio Board of Professional Conduct


Community Involvement

  • Leadership Ohio

    Class of 2019