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J. Michael Debbeler

Mike whole-heartedly enjoys his work. He is an organizer of the Midwest Regional Bankruptcy Seminar and this year he served as moderator of the Judicial Town Hall.

People > J. Michael Debbeler

My Story


My Bio

Mike Debbeler is a natural born teacher.  He’s a teacher in the sense that another word for teaching is sharing.

“I love teaching,” Mike says.  “I think the ability to help people understand complex subjects and hopefully pass on to them my love for this subject or that subject, and then watch them grow from the experience – it’s a joy.

“Any decent kindergarten teacher would say the same thing.”

To that end, Mike speaks at a cluster of seminars each year, all related to some area of his area of practice. He began speaking at seminars a couple years after starting his practice in 1981.  For the past couple decades, he was involved in putting together the Midwest Regional Bankruptcy Seminar.

He has also moderated various panels of judges and takes pride in having addressed racism and sexism in the court system on those occasions.  And as a VOLO editor for the American Bankruptcy Institute, he is often asked to write case summaries about new decisions.  The assignments require speedy turnarounds.

“You have three hours to accept and 24 hours to write the summary.  I’ve had requests come at midnight.  I always like doing them.”

He taught students at the University of Cincinnati College of Law when he was a student himself – that as a third-year law student in the Appellate Advocacy course. He was also a Visiting Instructor in Law at UC teaching Legal Writing and Research and Appellate Advocacy.  A fear of public speaking, he does not have.

Mike’s idea of a nightmare scenario would be to somehow slip into a wormhole and wake up in a world without books.  He’s one of those readers who is perpetually in the middle of not just two or three books but a whole bunch of them.  He has read every legal thriller with John Grisham’s name on it and snaps up anything new from Scott Turow and Jeffrey Toobin.

But his reading takes in many more genres than legal fiction.  There isn’t much he loves more than finding a new subject to focus on.  He then sets out straightaway to collecting the right literature that will give him more than an armchair acquaintance with whatever worlds those interests inhabit, to wit:

“Here’s my new thing, or one of them -- wine and bourbon.  I thoroughly enjoyed a book called ‘Cork Dork’ and another called ‘In Vino Duplicitas,’ which was all about a famous wine forger.  ‘No More Champagne’ was good, too – did you know Pol Roger was Churchill’s favorite champagne?  As for the other, I don’t necessarily read books on bourbon.  But I do read a lot about bourbon.”

He’s happy at Graydon.  “The Firm lets me do what I love to do and encourages me to do it.  This is a good place for me.”

Mike practices in the areas of bankruptcy, banking, commercial loan and real estate workouts. He serves as Chair of the Firm's Executive Committee and on the Board of the Midwest Regional Bankruptcy Seminar (where he is past Chair). He is also a member of ABI, ABLF, TACR (where he is a past President), and the CBA Bankruptcy Committee (where he is past Chair).

Mike is a frequent lecturer on a wide variety of topics including annual case law updates for many years for the CBA (real estate and bankruptcy), NKBA (bankruptcy), and SWOLTA (real estate).

Mike has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Banking and Finance Law, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization, Litigation-Banking & Finance and Litigation-Bankruptcy from 2005 to 2016. He has also been selected as The Best Lawyers in America “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Litigation-Bankruptcy in 2013, Litigation-Banking and Finance in 2014 and Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law in 2015. Additionally, Mike has been named Ohio Super Lawyer from 2004 to present for his work in Banking Law and Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law. He has also been named a Cincinnati Leading Lawyer in 2013. Mike is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell.

Mike offers outstanding client service. He refers to his clients as “great” and relishes his role as counselor. His client service philosophy includes providing prompt, efficient service and continually updating clients on the progress of matters. He has said, “If a client ever had to ask me for the status of a matter, I would think I have failed since I have not kept them up-to-date.”

Mike and his wife have been married since 1981 and have three adult daughters, of whom he is very proud. Mike is also passionate about college basketball and card playing – he’s been part of a card-playing group that has met monthly since 1977. He is currently Board Chair of Parkinson’s Support & Wellness, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which he started.