Michael Borden of Cleveland-Marshall likes local lawyers, hockey and more: My Cleveland

September 6, 2018 GMT

Michael Borden of Cleveland-Marshall likes local lawyers, hockey and more: My Cleveland

Professor Michael Borden is associate dean of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He also sings, plays hockey, helps a federal judge handle more than 1,000 lawsuits over opioids, and helped settle a recent tenants’ strike at Beachwood’s upscale Vue.

Cleveland creds: came here in 2004

Currently lives: Shaker Heights

Age: 48

Schooling: bachelor’s from Penn State, law degree from New York University

Household: wife, Miranda, and three children

Favorite locally owned restaurants: Anatolia, Zocalo, Osteria di Valerio e Al

Is Cleveland-Marshall any different than other law schools?

Michael: There’s a really strong commitment to the student. And there’s a significant commitment to public service.

As you’d expect at the public Cleveland State University and a law school led by Lee Fisher, Ohio’s former lieutenant governor. What else?

Michael: We have a health law center and a space law center.

We’ve got one of the earliest clinical programs. Our students serve real clients with real cases. We also have externships in governments and corporations. We’ve helped with the local police reform commission and bail reform commission.

You also have some part-time students, especially at night, right?

Michael: Fifteen, 20 percent of the classes are at night. Most of us teach at night. I was part of the rotation until I became associate dean.

The night students. they’re a little older and better organized. They know how to juggle serious commitments. Many are switching careers. We’ve had former police officers moving into criminal law.

What’s new at the school?

Michael: We’ve started one of the first centers on cybersecurity. We’re starting a practicum in the First Amendment and the public’s right to know. We’re starting an intellectual property program for copyright, patent and trademark issues, the legal protection of ideas and expression. We’re starting a criminal law center.

Noteworthy alums?

Michael: Mayor [Frank] Jackson. Congresswoman [Marcia] Fudge. Our chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court [Maureen O’Connor]. Other judges. The late [TV journalist] Tim Russert. James Thomas, who used to own the Sacramento Kings.

A law degree is distinguishing in many professions. Many of our grads are senior executives. One is an NFL agent. One is in real estate development. One helped his mom start a food company.

What’s your background?

Michael: I’m from Philadelphia. I worked in a large firm in New York and Paris. I did a large corporate practice, including public finance and financial services. But I’d decided I really wanted to become a law professor in the first month of law school. I was excited about what I was learning and the way I was being taught.

I was at a fellowship at Temple Law. I was offered a position at Cleveland-Marshall in 2004. I had a couple other choices, but I really liked the faculty here and the sense of community from the students as well.

What do you teach?

Michael: Contracts and corporations, mergers, acquisitions. I’ve won a bunch of teaching awards here. I won a university-wide one.

I’ve published on the intersection of corporate law and journalism. Journalists dig up wrongdoing.

Sometimes. Anyway, what’s an associate dean do?

Michael: There’s two of us. I became one of them two years ago. I’m in charge of curriculum and scheduling, hiring adjuncts, student life, records, the administrative staff, student discipline, some budgeting issues, our clinical and legal writing programs, some external relations and reporting to our accrediting agencies.

How’s Cleveland’s legal talent?

Michael: Cleveland punches above its weight. We’ve got talented judges and an amazing size and variety and quality of lawyers.

I was president of the William K. Thomas American Inn of Court, 100 local lawyers and law professors dedicated to professionalism, civility and ethics.

It’s a tight legal community. Everybody knows everybody else. There are sometimes conflicts of interest, and work has to be given up.

Speaking of work, tell us about some things you do on the side.

Michael: I’ve done private mediations, tort disputes, workplace disputes, personal injuries.

I’m working as an assistant to Judge [Dan A.] Polster in federal district court in opioid litigation. Over 1,000 cases have been consolidated here from multiple districts. The plaintiffs are cities and counties.

What was with the Vue?

Michael: It’s unusual to have a rent strike at a luxury apartment house. It wasn’t necessarily about real estate. It was mostly about communications and helping people in conflict.

What was it like working with the colorful Avery Friedman, the tenants’ lawyer and a civil rights crusader?

Michael: If anyone has a chance to see him dancing and singing in his office, they should.

What about your own singing?

Michael: I sing with the Cleveland Opera Theater. I’m also on the board. I sang with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. I’ve done some church and synagogue singing. I’m a bass.

Other hobbies?

Michael: I go to Indians games with my son and watch him play soccer. I take the kids skiing. We go to the beach every year in Mentor. We go for walks around here. It’s beautiful. It’s lush.

I ride my bike. I play tennis at the Cleveland Racquet Club.

I place ice hockey at Thornton in Shaker. It’s very tough as I get older. But my captain won’t let me retire. It’s a non-checking league. There’s just a little contact. There’s players from all walks and ability levels together. We play usually 9, 10, 11 at night.

Have you learned to love Cleveland?

Michael: It’s a great place to live. Love the outdoors and the seasons. Even though winter’s way too long, I love the snow.

Commuting’s a piece of cake. But they could do a better job with the potholes on MLK and Stokes.

I was surprised at the strong European ethnic character in Cleveland. I love the cultural amenities and the schools. I’ve made a lot of friends. Cleveland’s got everything you need and wonderful people.