Deborah J. Michelson


Deborah is a tireless and passionate advocate with an unwavering belief in the rule of law.

She focuses her practice on business disputes and complex commercial litigation. Prior to entering private practice, Deborah served five years as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, New York. She has represented and has prosecuted claims on behalf of publicly traded companies, private businesses, and individuals in AAA arbitrations as well as in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels throughout Ohio and nationwide.

Her experience includes business torts, contract and employment claims, financial and securities fraud, intellectual property, commercial real estate disputes, business “break-ups” and wind-downs, corporate governance and executive compensation issues, insurance coverage and bad faith claims, domestic relations, estate and probate matters, and emergency injunction litigation.

When Skill Matters

  • Represents clients litigating non-competition agreements and restrictive covenants.
  • Represents clients litigating claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, deceptive and unfair trade practices, fraud, unjust enrichment, product defects, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and promissory estoppel.
  • Represents clients litigating breach of contract disputes, including those involving purchase agreements, software development agreements, licensing agreements, partnership and membership agreements, employment agreements, real estate contracts, commercial leases, supply agreements, and distribution agreements.
  • Represents clients litigating federal and state claims of unfair competition and trademark, trade dress, and copyright infringement.
  • Represents clients in attorney grievance and disciplinary proceedings.
  • Represents clients in dissolution, divorce, and post-decree domestic relations matters.
  • Represents clients pre-litigation, seeking negotiated exit agreements and a non-litigated resolution of their disputes.

Articles + Presentations

  • Preparing the Business Case for Litigation (Presenter, Cleveland Law Library)
  • Litigating Employment Agreements and Restrictive Covenants(Presenter, Cleveland Law Library)
  • Effective and Persuasive Closing Arguments (Presenter, Ohio State Bar Association Litigation Section Annual Convention)
  • Damages to Businesses: How Do You Prove It (Presenter, Ohio State Bar Association Litigation Section Annual Convention)
  • Resolving the Case: What Winning Can Look Like (Presenter, National Business Institute)

Distinctions + Awards

  • Super Lawyers – Business Litigation
  • America’s Most Honored Lawyers – American Registry
  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Art and Science of Advocacy
  • William E. Davis Award for Best Appellate Brief
  • American Jurisprudence Award in Torts
  • Peer Review Rated “Distinguished” – Martindale-Hubbell

Civic Involvement

  • Legal Aid Society of Cleveland – Volunteer Lawyer, Save-the-Dream Foreclosure Mediation Program
  • American Association for Justice – Judicial Panelist, Student Trial Advocacy Competition
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law – Judicial Panelist, Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition
  • John Hay Cleveland Municipal High School – Team Advisor, Mock Trial Competition
  • American Civil Liberties Union – Grassroots Committee on Bail Reform
  • Cuyahoga County Board of Elections – Observer; Poll Worker

Professional Affiliations

  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law – Adjunct Professor, Trial Practice and Tactics
  • National Institute for Trial Advocacy – Faculty, Great Lakes Deposition Program
  • William K. Thomas American Inns of Court – Master of the Bench (Member Emeritus)
  • American Bar Association – Litigation Section; Section of Civil Rights; Law Practice Division
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association – Litigation Section; Women-in-Law Section; Commercial Courts Pilot Program Sub-Committee
  • Ohio State Bar Association – Litigation Section
  • Ohio Women’s Bar Association – Cuyahoga Count Judicial Selection Committee (Former Co-Chair)

Related Practices

  • Commercial + Business Litigation
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Corporate Investigations + White Collar Crime
  • Professional Liability, E+O, D+O


  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law, JD cum laude

  • Northwestern University, BA


  • Ohio
  • New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals – Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court – Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court – Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court – Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court – Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York

Want to learn more?