2013 Cincy Leading Lawyers
Michael A. Hirschfeld
Corporate Law Specialty Is Just the Right Mix
As a young man Michael A. Hirschfeld couldn't decide whether to purse a career in business or law.
As it turned out, as a member of the Graydon Head
& Ritchey law firm who has specialized in representing business
owner-operators and entrepreneurs for 37 years, he has been able to do
"I've really have been able to live vicariously
through my clients who are a heck of a lot of fun to work with," says
Hirschfeld, who earned both a MBA and a law degree in a joint program at
the University of Virginia.
Hirschfeld says he's come to appreciate the hard work and dedication of business owners and entrepreneurs.
"It's not just a job for them. It's a life
commitment. It's how they'll pay for their kids' college and their own
retirement. It's with them 24/7 and their work and their family lives
are inextricably intertwined," he says.
Working with Entrepreneurs
As an outside counsel, he says, he can be a
valuable sounding board and adviser for closely held businesses that
usually don't have an in-house source for business expertise.
Hirschfeld has represented some of Cincinnati's
best-known entrepreneurs. He helped former Procter & Gamble brand
manager Dean Butler and his partner on the formation of LensCrafters
more than two decades ago. And he worked with Tony Shipley, who left the
former SDRC to launch his own software company, Entek IRD, and who
later led formation of the Queen City Angels investment group.
Hirschfeld grew up appreciating the value of hard
work in the small town of New Bremen, near Wapakoneta, Ohio. He started
delivering newspapers and doing odd jobs around town as a 10-year-old.
He was a National Merit Scholar in high school and
he put himself through Kenyon College with a combination of scholarships
and college jobs.
In law school, Hirschfeld said many of his classmates talked about heading to Wall Street after graduation.
"They often said they'd work five years and then go do what they wanted to do," he says.
"I always thought why not do what you want to do first."
"Corporate Lawyer of Year"
He says he appreciates Cincinnati's combination of small-town feel and big-city amenities.
Hirschfeld gravitated to Graydon Head after working
for a larger Cincinnati law firm while in college. He figured he'd get
more opportunities with a smaller firm and while checking out an
Enquirer article on influential lawyers in town, discovered Graydon had
three on the list and no other firm had more than one.
In 2010, The Best Lawyers in America named him the "Cincinnati Corporate Lawyer of the Year."
A former chair of Graydon's executive committee,
Hirschfeld represents domestic companies in their international
expansion and foreign companies entering the United States.
Under his leadership, Graydon Head joined the Center
for Quality of Management in 2003, took home the Ohio Governor's
Excellence in Exporting Award in 2004 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.
Hirschfeld and his wife Linda — the two have known each other since kindergarten — have three grown daughters.
W.B. (Bill) Markovits
High-Stakes Litigator Loves to Investigate Different Hobbies
He's taken on Microsoft and Bill Gates, but he can also create a pretty wicked Halloween costume, if so desired.
W.B. (Bill) Markovits has become one of the
country's leading antitrust, class-action litigators over a 30-year
career based in Cincinnati. It has included stints with some of the
city's most noted firms and a long association with class-action pioneer
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Markovits
was accepted in a Department of Justice honors program where he
sharpened his litigation skills and got a taste of being the people's
lawyer working on antitrust litigation. It was a skill he has put to
good use in private practice.
"I liked being on the plaintiffs' side at DOJ, being
the crusader," Markovits says. "Now, I do work for both sides, because I
think it's good to have both perspectives."
Markovits moved to Cincinnati in 1983 to be closer
to the family of his wife, Nancy Greiwe, who is also an attorney
involved in civil and business litigation. He landed at Taft, Stettinius
& Hollister, later with Cummins & Brown. Markovits joined
Chesley's firm in 2001.
Markovits says the case that was most satisfying is
the Choice Care litigation in the late '80s that resulted in a $108
million jury verdict on behalf of a class of physicians. It was the
first time antitrust and RICO statutes had been applied to an HMO.
"I came up with the antitrust and RICO theories and
deposed most of the witnesses," he says. "I was a relatively young
lawyer at the time. We had a very substantial jury verdict after a very
His antitrust skills resulted in other important
cases such as a fraud/RICO case on behalf of Procter & Gamble that
resulted in a settlement of $165 million, and an 11-year antitrust and
RICO class-action case against Humana, including appeals that reached
the U.S. Supreme Court before culminating in a multi-million dollar
Markovits also worked on the national class-action
case against Microsoft and was chosen by the plaintiff's team to depose
Gates. He admits the session was somewhat anti-climatic. Gates had
already given a deposition a year earlier in which he was described as
feisty and arrogant, prompting a judge to order him to do it again.
Markovits says it was a kinder, gentler Gates he encountered.
"He had learned his lesson by the time I deposed
him," Markovits says. "He was very pleasant and very well prepared. He
was smiling a lot and careful in front of the camera."
Markovits and two former colleagues from Chesney's
firm — Christopher Stock and Paul DeMarco — founded Markovits, Stock
& DeMarco in September, specializing in complex business litigation
and appellate work. The new firm immediately landed a high-profile case
when the Ohio Attorney General appointed it lead attorney in a
class-action suit representing Ohio's Public Employee Retirement System
in securities fraud litigation against Freddie Mac for misleading
investors regarding its exposure to toxic subprime mortgage loans.
But everything isn't high-stakes seriousness in the
world of Markovits. When it comes times to get spooky on Halloween, who
ya' gonna' call?
Markovits confesses he loved making elaborate
costumes for his two children, and even though they are grown, his
reputation lives. He recently crafted a creepy zombie-like papier mache
mask after a neighbor requested he replicate ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's
character, Achmed the Dead Terrorist.
But, Markovits laughs, his interests range wide. "My
wife says I'm a serial hobbyist. In six months I'll learn magic, then
take up chess, and switch to whatever."
Litigation and Advocacy Help Commitment to Vulnerable
When he taught trial practice at the law schools
of the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University, Brian
Hurley told students at the start of every course, "We're problem
solvers, not problem makers.
"It's important to litigate, it's important to advocate, it's important to take your client's position and do it well.
"But at the same time you shouldn't exacerbate the
problem; you should be trying to solve it," says Hurley, managing
partner at Crabbe, Brown & James' Cincinnati office.
Solving problems is the theme Hurley, who specializes in litigation, returns to several times when talking about his career.
When he found he hated law school "with a passion,"
he earned a master's degree in Soviet history at the same time to keep
When he wanted to explore work beyond the walls of a big firm, he joined the prosecutor's office.
When he needed what he calls his "coaching fix," he volunteered to teach basketball to inner-city kids.
When his sister Mary, a lay minister, brought home
the stories of the tremendous need in Haiti, he raised money to build
homes and a school. Then he traveled to the Caribbean country to help in
"To me, as a lawyer, the best job is to help the
most vulnerable in our society," Hurley says, citing the unborn,
teenagers and the elderly.
His work also gives him "the opportunity to litigate in the areas I believe in, personally and religiously."
Asked about his cases that challenged Planned
Parenthood in the courts, Hurley responds thoughtfully, "I'm very
pro-life and I'm proud of it."
He adds that it is important to explain that he
sees those cases as going beyond his personal beliefs. "The primary
causes of action (in those cases) were related to failure to report
abuse" of young teens, which led them to seek abortions, he says. His
work is "pro-children" more than anything.
The best part of his career of more than 30 years? "My clients. Working with people who really need your help," he says.
"When you are involved with someone as closely as a
litigator is, for at least a brief period of their life, you are almost
dealing with them on a daily basis. You get to know people really well
and I've really met some fantastic people."
As a prosecutor, Hurley developed the first local
witness protection program in Ohio. He's been a consultant to the U.S.
Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections and the office
of the Ohio Attorney General.
Hurley has volunteered for his church, at St. Xavier
High School and the Cincinnati Zoo. In 2011, he received the Friar's
Club and Cincinnati Right to Life annual awards for pro bono and
Last year, he went to Haiti, along with his wife Monica and son Thomas.
"I knew what I was getting into intellectually," he
says. "I had no idea what I was getting into until I got there." The
relentless poverty, the lack of infrastructure, toddlers so malnourished
they were the size of babies. "You just pick them up, there is such a
need for human contact. What those nuns do there is simply amazing, they
are true saints," Hurley says.
His mom and dad "always taught us to be so thankful
for all we had and realize we had an obligation to give back." It wasn't
so much material things in the Irish Catholic family of 11 children.
The abundance was in love and support. "You see that and you think
•wow,' there's a lot more in life than making money or winning a case."
Building Client Relationships Can Be Serious and Fun, Too
Successful businesses have a variety of good choices when it comes to finding a corporate law specialist.
What Susan Zaunbrecher brings to the table, in
addition to 23 years of experience at Dinsmore & Shohl, is a promise
in the form of a personal motto: "We're going to reach your goal and
have fun doing it."
"That relationship with your lawyer counts for a lot," Zaunbrecher says.
"You're going to be spending a lot of time together, and you should be able to enjoy it."
Most of her work involves financial institutions —
Fifth Third Bank and LCNB are two top clients — and focuses on
transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and securities law.
But she also counts Caesars Entertainment, Chemed, Vitas and Lexmark among her clients.
The fun is interwoven with success. She is chair of
Dinsmore's Corporate Department and its Corporate/SEC and Financial
Institutions groups, as well the Social committee.
She serves on the board of directors, and the Executive, Professional Development and Diversity committees.
Her path to the top of the legal profession started in retail.
As a Tulane University business school graduate in
her mid-20s, she helped attorneys prepare for the sale of the department
store where she worked — and had fun doing it.
So when her husband, Don Zaunbrecher, was
transferred by Procter & Gamble from New Orleans to Cincinnati, she
decided it was time for a career change. Zaunbrecher earned her law
degree from University of Cincinnati and accepted an offer from
Dinsmore. Twenty-three years later, she's very happy she did.
At 53, she continues to enjoy helping clients expand and change their businesses.
She was a key player last year when Lexmark acquired
four businesses in its quest to transform from primarily a printing
services company to a data management firm.
"With each transaction, we've enhanced their data
management, and that's been really exciting, taking the company in a
different direction," Zaunbrecher says.
She and her husband, who works as a consultant since
retiring from P&G, live in Columbia Tusculum with four rescue dogs
("I have to stop rescuing dogs," she says, laughing).
Her passion for animals led her to the board of the
Cincinnati Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCPCA), one
of many extra-curricular applications of her expertise.
Zaunbrecher also sits on the boards of Playhouse in
the Park and the UC Economic Center for Education & Research, and is
active with Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and United Way's Women's
Zaunbrecher grew up in Knoxville, Tenn. She loves mountains and has translated that passion into becoming an avid skier.
Hence, her only gripe about her adopted hometown.
"I love Cincinnati," she says. "We've lived here for 25 years.
"If we just had mountains."
Still, she happily settles for the city's hills and
occasional skiing trips to Colorado, and envisions spending the rest of
her career growing along with her law firm and the clients she serves.