Joshua Claybourn

Attorney, historian, author, and editor. As an attorney Claybourn focuses on intellectual property, state and local government, renewable energy, utilities, and commercial transactions. His research, writing, and editing primarily concern history, law, public policy, and Lincoln's youth in Indiana.

Law Practice

Joshua A. Claybourn is a member with the law firm of Jackson Kelly PLLC focusing on intellectual property, renewable energy and utilities, commercial transactions, and state and local government. A genuine curiosity about business and people drives Claybourn’s practice. He actively listens, learns, and provides timely guidance to execute business strategies.

As the firm's intellectual property and licensing practice group leader, Claybourn provides counsel on trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and licensing. He ensures valuable brands and IP assets remain intact and commercially viable. His experience includes successful negotiations and litigation for a variety of IP infringements, licenses, and transfer agreements in business, banking, entertainment, and publishing. He has been recognized as a trademark “Leader” by the World IP Review (WIPR), a comprehensive guide to the top intellectual property lawyers across the globe.

Claybourn’s clients range from small entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. He serves as lead counsel for business formations, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and economic development projects. In addition to traditional municipal finance transactions, Claybourn works on more difficult, complex projects involving public-private partnerships and state and local incentive packages. He also represents municipalities and units of government in utility, annexation, reorganization, funding, and budget issues.

Claybourn previously worked in-house with a large publicly traded energy company, providing substantial experience with utility law. He currently consults with renewable energy developers, municipal water and sewer utilities, and industrial consumers on supply agreements, contract disputes, leases, bond financings, zoning and land use, and regulatory approvals and rate cases. His rate case experience ranges from some of the largest utilities in the state to some of the smallest.

Claybourn is a member of the Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association, National Association of Bond Lawyers, the Indiana State Bar Association, and the Evansville Bar Association. He speaks frequently on matters on municipal and constitutional law. He previously served as an adjunct professor at the University of Evansville teaching business organizations (LS 350).

Claybourn earned a juris doctor from Indiana University McKinney School of Law and is admitted to the Indiana state bar and the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Indiana. Before law school he earned a bachelor of science degree in business economics and public policy from Indiana University Kelley School of Business and, before that, graduated from Evansville North High School.

Lincoln and Historical Scholarship

Claybourn writes frequently on matters of history, law, and public policy with an emphasis on Abraham Lincoln’s youth in Indiana. He is editor of The Wilderness Years of Abraham Lincoln (Indiana University Press, 2022) and co-editor (with William Bartelt) of Abe’s Youth: Shaping the Future President (Indiana University Press, 2019). Claybourn frequently serves as host of Lincoln Log, a podcast featuring conversations with leading historians and other officials about their stories, research, and wisdom. He appears as a featured historian in the six-part CNN documentary Lincoln: Divided We Stand.

Claybourn serves on the board of directors of both the Abraham Lincoln Association and Abraham Lincoln Institute, and is a member of The Lincoln Forum, American Historical Society, and Organization of American Historians. He is past chair and a current member of the Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable and first commander and current officer of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War John W. Foster Camp No. 2. He frequently serves as a featured speaker on Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War.

Claybourn is also editor of Our American Story: The Search for a Shared National Narrative (Potomac Books, 2019), a collection of provocative essays by leading thinkers and public figures addressing the same central question—what is the unifying American story? His work on law and policy have appeared in such periodicals as USA Today, The Hill, The American Spectator, and World Magazine. Furthermore, he has appeared as a guest on CNN, MSNBC, and NHK. He also pens book reviews for Kirkus Reviews and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Earlier, he compiled a comprehensive family history in a book titled Born of Clay (2016).

Civic Memberships and Activities

The Indianapolis Business Journal named Claybourn one of the state’s 250 most influential business leaders in its first year of the award. He is a founding board member and secretary of the Evansville Regional Sports Commission (2010-present), which seeks to promote Evansville, Indiana, as an attractive place to live, work, and visit through sports and sporting events that bring national and regional attention to the area. He serves as a board member of WNIN, an independent nonprofit PBS/NPR station serving Evansville, Henderson, and Owensboro. Claybourn is also a former trustee (2006-2009, 2011-2013) of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, including two years as president (2009 and 2012). During his term as president the library earned “5 Star Library” status from the Library Journal, a designation granted to only 1% of the nation’s public libraries. In this role he also served on the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Foundation Board of Directors (2008-2012). Claybourn is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, & Science, the Newburgh Museum (2014-2016), and Mulberry Center, Inc. (2008-2012).

Active in government and public policy, Claybourn has counseled many political candidates and public policy makers, including as a top adviser in U.S. Congressional races, state legislative races, and municipal campaigns. He served as a member of the transition team for the 34th mayor of Evansville. Claybourn is past chairman of the Government Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Indiana and a former member of the Newburgh Plan Commission (2013-2015).