(513) 621-6464
(513) 621-6464

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

For as long as he can remember, Mike Debbeler has been all about learning, in the active sense of the word, in a way that pursues learning on his own as opposed to being taught. His way of doing that is to read.

He gets it from his father, who was always bringing books home to him, who practically fed him books. Mike grew up in Ft. Thomas. His was an idyllic boyhood, he says, with a basketball court in the driveway, four baseball fields at the end of the street and a place to go swimming a short bike ride away. Every sport he ever played, his father was either the coach or the manager. Every athletic event he was ever in, his parents were there. Mike has followed suit with his three daughters. When one was in the Ursuline production of “Oliver,” for example, he attended all four performances.

His father was the youngest of nine children and the only boy. He was 12 when his father died. It was 1926. Mike’s grandfather left the family with a few rundown residential rental properties. That income got them through the Depression. Mike’s father was the type of person where if people didn’t have the rent, he’d let them stay.

“But the books were the thing. Dad would go to public library sales and bring me textbooks. I have some of the prayer books he had as a kid that are in German. He definitely kindled my interest in books. He loved Dickens, the great novels and every kind of history book known to man. If ever I wanted a book, I got it. As a boy, I had a huge number of books, mostly history, but I had all the Hardy Boys stuff, too.”

His first direct experience with the law was as a victim. Three kids jumped him on the way home from school his freshman year at Newport Catholic. He woke up in the hospital. The fathers of a couple of his friends were attorneys. Mike recalls that they were helpful in guiding him through the juvenile court process.

Mike’s father had a law degree, although he never practiced law. He worked his entire career as a salesman for a railway shipping company that filed for bankruptcy in 1976, the year Mike graduated from the University of Kentucky. Mike’s experience as the victim of a crime, then seeing the impact that the bankruptcy had on his father seem to have flowed into the direction his practice has taken, focusing on business credit issues.

“I have a specialty of bankruptcy and creditors’ rights on the lender’s side of the equation, and I pride myself on being extremely knowledgeable in that field. We represent quite a good number of lenders in that regard. Our practice group has grown and I think it’s safe to say we do more bank work with their troubled businesses than anyone else around. The satisfaction for me is in finding ways to help solve the problems associated with those financially troubled businesses.”

Mike enjoys speaking at seminars and he has given the case law update at the Cincinnati Bar Association Bankruptcy and Real Property Committee’s annual seminars for many years.

Mike practices in the areas of bankruptcy, banking, commercial loan and real estate workouts. He is also in his tenth year of service on the Firm’s Executive Committee. He serves 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 1978. He is currently a vice-president and board member of Parkinson’s Support & Wellness, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit which he started.