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Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP attorney Anthony Robertson '13 – a former craft brewer – started the firm's craft food and beverage group.

A Cincinnati law firm and a former Mt. Carmel brewer have created a special team to help craft brewers, vintners, grocers and restaurateurs navigate their industry's legal landscape.

Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP attorney Anthony Robertson – a former craft brewer – started the firm's craft food and beverage group.

Robertson dabbled in homebrewing while living in Chicago and decided to take a leap and enter the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology.

"That sort of cost me all my money, so I moved back to Cincinnati, and luckily my folks lived very close to Mt. Carmel Brewing Co.," he told me.

Robertson's first job there was hand-filling growlers for distribution to be sold by retailers like Kroger. When a brewing position opened up, he jumped on it. That's where he stayed for two years, helping head brewer Mike Dewey. But brewing wasn't for Robertson.

"I love beer and I love the chemistry of beer and coming up with recipe designs and what hops to use and barrels to age," he said. "But to be a great brewer at a small brewery, you need an excellent mechanical mind. That wasn’t really what I was good at."

Law school was a spur-of-the-moment decision for Robertson, but he viewed it as a way he could potentially help small brewers, restaurants and other entrepreneurs in the craft food and beverage industries.

"There’s a lot of people here at Graydon Head who have a passion for good beer, good wine, restaurants that are growing and meeting the people behind it," he said.

The group consists of seven attorneys with backgrounds in everything from litigation to real estate to employment law to contract law.

The craft food and beverage group wants to keep its services affordable for entrepreneurs who often are running startups or small businesses. It will enter into a small retainer agreement and give them general advice, Graydon Head partner Sean Suder told me.

"The idea is to sort of be the in-house counsel, but outside," he said. "For us, it’s meeting them where they are and saying, 'We’d like to help you as early as possible in the process of starting and growing your business and grow with you.'"

Graydon Head has been trying to get in front of that emerging marketplace in Cincinnati. It sponsors the pop-up biergarten in Walnut Hills in the summer. The firm's attorneys volunteer each weekend to sell beer tickets and T-shirts and maintain a presence there.

"The law firm is striving to be the most vibrant and innovative law firm in the region, and this is one area we feel like we can really play in," Suder said. "It’s part of our business strategy as well as our marketing strategy."