Mike Hirschfeld’s dad quit school in the eighth grade to help support his post-Depression-era family. Mike grew up in New Bremen, Ohio, population 2000, a farm town that long ago had the distinction of being the highest point on the Miami-Erie Canal, where the water divided and flowed either north or south.
New Bremen was a slightly more rural Bedford Falls. Mike says it was a wonderful place to be a boy, the kind of town where a kid developed a work ethic. He mowed lawns, shoveled snow, helped on his relatives’ farms and had two paper routes.
“And everyone was your parent. If Mrs. Moots from across town saw you doing something wrong, she wouldn’t hesitate to correct you. You learned respect. Life revolved around school and church and the high school basketball game. The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule were drummed into you, and it was good.”
He was one of 65 in his high school class, a National Merit Scholar. His plan was to get a liberal arts education and take up a career in business or law. When he visited Kenyon College, he thought it was the coolest place he’d ever been. Although he never felt deprived, his family's finances were limited. He had six scholarships, working as a college van driver, and as a 7up truck driver during the summers, to put himself through Kenyon.
Mike married Linda Dietrich – they’d met in kindergarten, although she only started liking him in high school – right after his graduation from Kenyon. They honeymooned in Virginia so he could check out the graduate schools there. The Colgate Darden School of Business had a new degree program that would let him work toward an MBA and a law degree at the same time. He was one of three in the program. Mike worked for the business school's executive programs and Linda worked as a secretary in the engineering school during their four years in Charlottesville.
By the time he graduated, he had decided to focus first on law. He’d had a good experience as a clerk a year earlier at a larger law firm in Cincinnati, and he and Linda liked the Midwestern feel of the city. They thought it would be a great place to raise their family. The question he asked himself: What can I do to make this a better community?
He pulled the Cincinnati Enquirer archives to look up law firms. One article about Cincinnati movers and shakers caught his eye. It listed three attorneys from Graydon. No other firm had more than one noted. He joined the firm that year, in 1977.
Today, he works principally with entrepreneurs, family-owned and closely held businesses, although he also advises healthcare organizations and international businesses.
“It’s my sweet spot. I live an entrepreneurial life vicariously through a group of clients who are a heck of a lot of fun to work with – people whose personal and business lives are inextricably intertwined. It’s what they talk about over dinner. It’s their passion.
“I’m fortunate to have long-term relationships that are incredibly satisfying. I work to be a trusted advisor and 'thought partner' for them. Most of these folks don’t have any peers in their organizations to give them the unvarnished truth. They need people they trust.
“To build relationships of trust, where they know you’re not just trying to sell them a product or get more hours from them, it takes time. But once you have that relationship, it’s immensely gratifying. That’s when you can really help.”
Mike enjoys helping businesses and their owners prosper and achieve their goals. He concentrates on representing closely-held and family businesses, and their owners/operators, in connection with their formation and governance, financing and venture capital, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, distribution, employee issues, shareholder disputes, and succession planning for management and ownership. Mike also represents domestic companies in their international expansion, as well as foreign companies entering the United States, and advises healthcare organization on their structure and governance.
Mike says: “in addition to the variety of issues and people I deal with daily, the joy of working with owners and operators who have a deep passion for their business is what I enjoy most.” Mike describes his client service philosophy as seeing every issue through the client’s eyes. “This helps me empathize with them, and work with them to develop a strategy that takes into account not just the legal issues, but also the costs and implications for their business, as well as the effects on them personally.”
Since 1993, Mike has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for Corporate Law, being named “Lawyer of the Year” in that category in 2010, and similarly for Mergers and Acquisitions in 2013. He has been named a Leading Lawyer by Cincy Business Magazine since 2005, and recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer since 2004. Mike has been included in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business since 2003, in which clients have referred to him as “inventive, flexible and reasonable,” "a business-minded problem solver who manages a strong practice representing small businesses in corporate matters," and “a joy to work with.”
Mike is active in community, civic and charitable organizations, including serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and receiving the Hamilton County Community Mental Health Board's Community Friend of Mental Health Award and the Goering Center for Family and Privately Owned Business’s special service award.
Mike is the former chair of the Firm’s Executive Committee. Under Mike’s leadership, the Firm joined the Center for Quality of Management, took home the Ohio Governor's Excellence in Exporting Award and, according to "Corporate Board Member Magazine," was named by corporate directors of publicly traded U.S. corporations as one of Cincinnati's top five law firms three years in a row.
Mike married his high school sweetheart, Linda, in 1973. They have three married daughters and three grandchildren.