Mike Roberts rates himself “pretty efficient” as a lawyer. He was, after all, working as a fifth grader, saving money to go to St. Xavier High School because he had the smarts to know it was a great school and that, if he wanted to go, he’d have to make his own way.
He was the seventh of eight children – three sisters followed by five brothers, all in nine years. He believes it was too much for his father. In any case, his parents’ marriage fell apart when Mike was still young. He was 11 years old when he started caddying at Kenwood Country Club. Whatever he made, he socked away to pay for St. X.
“Being a caddy is like being a lawyer. You get different personalities, and you have to find a way to persuade them to like you, to tip you well. If you have a legal or factual issue, you have to figure how to persuade different personalities.”
Mike is one of Graydon’s litigators. In 2006, he won one of the largest jury verdicts in Ohio and in 2012 he was key player in obtaining the largest verdict in Kentucky ($100,000,000). Being a good litigator is about storytelling, he says. It’s listening, reacting or not reacting. It’s having the skill to know what to say and what not to say – and how to communicate what you do say. You have to sell to get the right ruling – just like when you’re a caddy and you want that bigger tip.
He works on cases that settle for millions of dollars as well as on cases that settle for zero, through the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, representing people who can’t pay. He is now a Trustee of the VLP Board.
“Yesterday, I was in front of the Sixth Circuit. It’s a step away from the Supreme Court. Today, on a volunteer case, I was in municipal court representing somebody who’s being evicted because they don’t have $500 for the rent.”
His decision to work at Graydon was based on some of the same factors that influenced him to pursue an education at St. X and later at Notre Dame.
“We have great clients, family businesses that have been with us for generations. Too, there’s real support for doing what you believe in. If you want to serve the public, you’re encouraged. And you get quality here. Graydon has had attorneys who have gone on to serve as federal judges, congressmen, and Ohio’s governor.”
Something else about Mike – one of his sisters, Patty, has Prader-Willi syndrome, although her condition wasn’t diagnosed until she was an adult. Symptoms include a low metabolism, an insatiable appetite and learning disabilities. At one point, his parents enrolled her in swimming classes to help with her weight. All five brothers then took up swimming; Mike swam and played water polo at Notre Dame.
To increase awareness of Prader-Willi, the five Roberts boys flew to England years ago and swam the English Channel. The campaign was called “For the Love of Patty.” You might have seen the coverage of it on CNN. Mike smiles, but just barely. It’s ironic, he says, that his sister’s weight issue is what got the boys into swimming.
Mike's practice is commercial dispute resolution. A typical day may find Mike's time split between handling a basic landlord-tenant matter for a legal aid client before concentrating his efforts on the more complex disposition of an antitrust, a trade secret, ERISA, or other commercial disputes. To achieve desired results for clients, Mike employs varying methods of dispute resolution, including mediation (with or without a third party neutral) and arbitration. If these methods are unsuccessful, and a trial is required, Mike's clients find that he is an exceptional pre-trial, trial, and appellate advocate.
Mike is a pragmatic and passionate advocate who is both aggressive and principled. Much of Mike's practice consists of emergency business disputes. These disputes include covenants not to compete, trade secret issues, intellectual property, breach of contract, interference in business relations, antitrust disputes, and a host of other issues.
Throughout his professional career, Mike has achieved significant success for clients. Mike has obtained multiple $1+ million dollar verdicts and/or settlements. Mike has also successfully defended clients who have been the targets of claims seeking damages in excess of $1 million dollars.
Mike also is Graydon's pro bono coordinator and was honored in 2000 with the Lawyer of the Year Award by the Legal Aid Society of the Cincinnati Bar Association.
Mike is recognized throughout the community as a gifted trial attorney and, based on the grading and comments of his peers, he earned an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell.
In college, Mike was a member of the Notre Dame Swimming Team and the Notre Dame Water Polo club. While in Law School, Mike served as Notre Dame's Assistant Swimming Coach. Since 1990, Mike has continued his coaching passion at his family's parish.
Mike has been married to his wife, Melanie, since 1994. They have two children.
Outside of work, Mike maintains a competitive and athletic lifestyle. He has participated in several marathons of the conventional kind, and in 2003, Mike and his four brothers successfully swam the English Channel to raise awareness for a genetic disorder that has affected their sister.
Mike was part of the team representing Bill Yung, president of Northern Kentucky based Columbia Sussex Corporation, when Kenton District Judge Patricia Summe awarded the Yungs a $100M judgment against Grant Thornton.