Mike’s strength lies in giving practical advice targeted to meet his clients’ business goals. He understands that companies often need creative solutions—not just the most conservative legal advice. Mike digs into his clients’ business so he can help them balance legal risk against their objectives. His top goal is to be an extension of the client teams he assists.
In Mike’s blended practice, he works with businesses and their owners to navigate challenging commercial and employment issues. He represents clients in disputes involving contracts, software licensing and support agreements; enterprise software implementations; restrictive covenant and trade secrets matters; unfair business practices; and product distribution and dealer issues. He routinely works with clients in the information technology, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and automotive, heavy equipment and trucking industries.
Mike is active in the firm’s pro bono efforts and mentoring programs. He has worked on behalf of children in the foster care system, conducted adoptions and served as a guardian ad litem in family court cases. He helps coordinate Shook's campaign for the United Way of Greater Kansas City, assists with the firm’s recruiting and summer associate programs, and mentors new attorneys at Shook.
Commercial contracts, software litigation and unfair business practices: Mike routinely works with clients regarding challenges to their legal rights and obligations under commercial contracts. Many of Mike’s cases involve disputes over enterprise-wide information technology system implementations, reseller agreements, and rights and obligations included in software licensing, support and maintenance contracts.
- Arbitrated multiple disputes between a healthcare IT company and enterprise software purchasers based on claimed implementation and performance issues.
- Defended an international food production company in a challenge to its core contractual business relationships.
- Tried a case for a commercial truck and equipment seller in a dispute regarding the performance of a sales contract and failure to pay due to an electronic security breach.
- Represented software sellers in litigation over reseller agreements and licensing scope issues.
- Defended mining company over alleged breach of mining lease agreement, resulting in both summary judgment and an affirmation of the decision by the Seventh Circuit.
Employment litigation: Mike represents employers to enforce their rights under their employment agreements and state and federal law to protect confidential information and trade secrets, as well as their rights to enforce restrictive covenants. He has worked with insurance brokers, staffing firms and information technology sales firms to enforce restrictive covenants, including noncompetition, nonsolicitation, noninterference and confidentiality agreements. He has successfully enforced agreements in a number of states and has obtained injunctive relief on behalf of his clients numerous times.
Mike's employment experience also includes the defense of nationwide actions related to calculations, methods of overtime pay and overtime exemption issues as well as the defense of discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases across the country—including in Missouri, Kansas, California, Florida and New York. Mike's teams have achieved summary judgment and bench and jury trial victories for their clients.
Product distribution and dealer disputes: Mike counsels manufacturers and sellers of regulated products on all aspects of their relationships with dealers and distributors, including contract administration and enforcement, dealer contract terminations, state and federal law compliance, key contractual provisions, distributor performance, negotiating relationship modifications (both individual and systemwide), product repurchase disputes and other issues.
- Counsels second-stage manufacturers of specialty motor vehicles on rights and obligations under its nationwide distribution program.
- Works with multi-line heavy equipment manufacturer to manage underperforming dealers and address various state-law issues in their numerous dealer and distributor relationships.
- Serves as counsel to a commercial truck retailer in suits across the country claiming breaches of warranty, fraud and unfair trade practices related to commercial sales.
- Advises retailers and other entities on risks and pragmatic risk-reduction strategies related to cannabis-based products, including industrial hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) and other derived products.
- Litigated on behalf of an international auction company regarding warranty issues improperly raised as consumer fraud claims.
- Defended claims against a fuel wholesaler related to a dispute with a convenience store operator to within two weeks of trial before reaching a favorable resolution.
- Arbitrated on behalf of a health care information technology company following a challenge to contracts assigned as part of a transaction valued at more than $1 billion.
- Represented majority members of Missouri LLC in a dispute with a minority owner regarding the buyout of minority interest.
- Litigated the ownership rights and value of a mid-construction, mixed-use project on behalf of managing members of a limited liability company.
- Arbitrated on behalf of a commercial real estate developer regarding a brokerage commission relating to the sale of approximately 40 convenience stores.
Indemnity and contribution: Mike represented an AmLaw 100 law firm in a series of individual and class action suits in which an underwriter sought indemnity and contribution related to municipal bonds that defaulted shortly after issuance. The Shook team got a dismissal of the client from three separate suits, and the success was covered by Law360.
Publications and Presentations
Ask the Experts—Cannabis Products, Panelist, Consumer Brands Association, Legal Forum 2020, Rancho Mirage, California, February 25, 2020.
Co-Author, Arbitration Agreements in the Wage-and-Hour Context, LJN Employment Law Strategist, May 2011.
Michael Barnett, The Plaintiffs’ Bar Cannot Enforce the Laws: Individual Issues Prevent Consumer Protection Classes in the Eighth Circuit, 75 Mo. L. Rev. 207 (2010).
Michael Barnett, The High Cost of Low-Cost Workers: Missouri Enacts New Law Targeting Employers of Unauthorized Workers, 74 Mo. L. Rev. 801 (2009).
Inside Track: How Pay Data Impacts GCs, Plus, Who's To Blame For Stress? Law.com, July 17, 2019.