Chip Finke has always been comfortable with words, going way back. He learned to read before he was a kindergartener. Occasionally at parties his parents hosted, they’d have him pick up a copy of Time or Life magazine and read it out loud to their guests.
“I learned to read by being read to. I might not have necessarily understood everything the writers were saying, but I was able to sound out the words phonetically.”
He grew up on the east side of Cincinnati, a self-described “nerdy little kid.” His father was a builder and Realtor, and his mother was a homemaker.
Summers were spent in Leland, a picturesque town in northern Michigan. He recalls them as golden days. He had a group of friends who would converge there in the summer, year after year. Those friendships, forged decades ago, remain strong.
The walls in his office are crowded with a dozen or so paintings and a few photographs of Leland. Two large paintings look like fanciful x-rays. A Bermuda seascape, looking down on waves crashing against rocks, swirls with color. The only theme running through his paintings: “There is something about each one that I like.”
As a board member of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, he will sometimes buy a student’s work to help that student. But mostly, he acquires a piece simply because it appeals to him. He doesn’t care if it will never hang in the Louvre.
He writes the Firm’s annual Christmas poem, perennially entitled “To the Girls.” He keeps notes on events throughout the year, looking for items he deems “poem-worthy,” and he engages in a good amount of skewering.
The poem is a task he inherited from Bruce Petrie, Sr. He also created a semi-regular Graydon underground newspaper. He remembers earlier in his career, when he started the newspaper, another of the Firm’s patriarchs appearing in his doorway to inquire about it.
“John Warrington told me he’d heard I was doing an underground newspaper and said, ‘Well, I’d like to get a copy.’ So I said sure.”
“The Firm has changed in some ways. But it’s still the kind of place where you can have an underground newspaper and poke fun at whomever you want without adverse consequences. I was an associate when I did the first one. I put it in the mail slots of people that I wanted to see it – in other words, not everyone’s slot.
“But I quickly realized that, while people here take their work seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It makes for a great environment.”
Chip has handled cases in a variety of substantive areas, including commercial disputes, employment discrimination, real estate, and lender liability. He has tried cases and argued appeals in federal and state courts and has represented clients in mediations and arbitrations under various auspices. He is a member of the firm’s Risk Management Committee, is designated Counsel to the Firm, and is actively involved in risk management issues. Before joining Graydon in 1984, Chip worked two years as a law clerk for the Honorable Carl B. Rubin, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Based on the grading and comments of his peers, Chip is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell. From 2013-2015, Chip has also been named an Ohio Super Lawyer for his work in Litigation law.
Chip is the author of the firm’s underground newsletter and the annual holiday poem. He enjoys any event that involves art, wine, or both, and he and his wife Wendy enjoy spending time in northern Michigan.