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 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; and product distribution and automotive manufacturer dealer relationships.

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.

Representative Matters

Commercial contracts and unfair business practicesMike routinely works with clients regarding challenges to their legal rights and obligations under commercial contracts. 

Many of Mike’s cases involve disputes over enterprisewide information technology implementations, reseller agreements, and rights and obligations included in software licensing, support and maintenance contracts.

  • Arbitrated multiple disputes between a health care IT company and enterprise software purchasers based on claimed implementation and performance issues.
  • Arbitrated a challenge to contracts assigned as part of a transaction valued at more than $1 billion.  
  • Represented software sellers in litigation over reseller agreements and licensing scope issues.
  • Obtained preliminary injunctive relief to protect the client’s ability to maintain and support re-sold software under post-termination contractual obligations.

Mike’s commercial litigation experience also includes routinely representing one of the largest insurance brokerages and one of the largest staffing firms in the United States on a variety of commercial issues. His experience includes litigation involving commission disputes, fiduciary and common law duties of care, and receivables and collections matters. 

Mike approaches commercial matters with trial in mind. He has tried and arbitrated commercial matters in a number of forums and successfully argued in front of the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Seventh Circuit.

Restrictive covenant and trade secret litigation: Mike represents employers in actions to protect their valuable confidential information and trade secrets and to enforce their rights under their employment agreements and restrictive covenants. He has worked with insurance brokers, staffing firms and information technology sales firms to pursue the theft of trade secrets and 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, including through claims under the Defend Trade Secrets Act. 

Mike’s employment experience also includes the defense of nationwide wage-and-hour 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.

Product distribution and automotive dealer disputes: Mike counsels manufacturers and sellers of regulated products on all aspects of their relationships with dealers and distributors, including dealer disputes and terminations under motor vehicle franchise laws, distributor performance management, negotiating relationship modifications (both individual and systemwide), add-points and product repurchase disputes.

  • Defends automotive manufacturers and OEMs from challenges to decisions under dealer agreements and motor vehicle franchise laws.
  • 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.
  • Served 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.
Bankruptcy avoidance actions: Mike routinely represents bankruptcy trustees and companies in avoidance litigation, including fraudulent transfer and preference claims. In this work, Mike has managed dockets with greater than 100 cases and recovered millions of dollars for bankruptcy trustees.

Publications and Presentations

Ask the Experts—Cannabis Products, Panelist, Consumer Brands Association, Legal Forum 2020Rancho Mirage, California, February 25, 2020.

Navigating the Cannabis Conundrum, Presenter, Update of the Law, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, June 13, 2019.

Employment Ethics: Internal Investigations, Witness Preparation and More, Presenter, Update of the Law, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, June 23, 2016.

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).

Media Coverage

Cannabis-Infused Products: Labelling, Regulation and LiabilityMini-Roundtable, Corporate Disputes, July-September 2020.

Inside Track: How Pay Data Impacts GCs, Plus, Who’s To Blame For Stress? Law.com, July 17, 2019.