Merle F. Wilberding has more than fifty years' experience advising and representing clients in the areas of business planning, non-profit organizations, real estate law, taxation, and zoning. This experience affords his clients a unique, skillful, and practical management of matters ranging from general corporate legal and strategic business management issues to complex reorganizations involving asset sales, public and private financing, and spin-offs.
He has represented a wide range of corporations (both for-profit and not-for-profit corporations), developers, and religious organizations located both within and outside of the United States. He has served as chairman and general counsel for the Greater Dayton Foreign Trade Zone, Inc. He has a broad range of legal and business experience and is an active adviser and board member to a variety of businesses and community non-profit organizations.
Wilberding served as chairman of the firm's Tax Department for ten years. He has briefed and argued a number of tax cases in the Ohio Supreme Court, including Dupps Company v. Lindley, 62 Ohio St. 2d 305 (1980), and Dayton Supply & Tool vs. Montgomery County Board of Revision, 111 Ohio St. 3d 367 (2006).
Merle's professional publications include articles in national law reviews and other legal and business media. In addition, he is a free-lance writer with a number of articles, books, and Op Ed Columns as listed in his attached Curriculum Vitae. He has testified before the United States Congress and before the Ohio legislature as well as giving a number of speeches and presentations as listed in his attached Curriculum Vitae.
Prior to his association with Coolidge Wall, Merle practiced with the Arent Fox law firm in Washington, D.C. During the Vietnam War, Merle served as a U.S. Army Captain, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Government Appellate Division, Washington, D.C., where he briefed and argued appeals in the Presidio Mutiny case and the Lt. William L. Calley - My Lai Massacre case.
- Inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame (2019)
- Ramey Award for Distinguished Community Service awarded by the Ohio State Bar Foundation. This award is one of top two awards given out in the State of Ohio and was given at the annual OSBF dinner on November 12, 2012.
- Lloyd O'Hara Public Interest Law Award from the 2016 Access to Justice Award - November 3, 2016
- Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, St. Mary's University (Minnesota) 2016
- Walter Rice Honorary Alumni Award, University of Dayton School of Law (2015)
- Best Lawyers® "2012 Dayton Lawyer of the Year - Real Estate Litigation"
- Best Lawyers® "2015 Dayton Lawyer of the Year - Corporate Law"
- American Bar Foundation - Distinguished Life Fellow
- Ohio State Bar Foundation - Distinguished Life Fellow
- Dayton Bar Association - Distinguished Life Fellow
- Dayton Original, Named as a "Dayton Original" by the Dayton City Commission. I am joining others who have helped shape the development of the city, including such noted individuals as Edwin Moses, Willis "Bing" Davis, Mike Peters, Daequan Cook, Hal McCoy, and C.J. McLin.
- Muse Machine Honoree. In recognition of 25 years of service as a board member, emeritus board member, legacy donor, and contributor of legal services, the Muse Machine honored Merle Wilberding by dedicating its, "Seussical," to him on January 18, 2014. The Muse Machine is a nationally-acclaimed music and theater program for elementary and high school children in more than 90 schools in the Miami Valley.
- Ohio Super Lawyers - recognition of the Top 5% of lawyers in the State of Ohio
- The Best Lawyers in America
- Who's Who in America
- Peer Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell
Community Leadership Activities
- Advisory Council, School of Law, University of Dayton (2004-Present)
- Advisory Council, College of Liberal Arts, Wright State University (2008-2013)
- Human Race Theatre, Trustee
- Dayton History, Trustee
- Montgomery County Law Library Resource Board, Trustee
- Dayton Opera, Trustee (2008-2011)
- Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, Founding Trustee (2005-present)
- The Muse Machine, Trustee Emeritus. The Muse Machine is an organization devoted to promoting drama and bringing the arts to more than 100 elementary and high schools throughout the Miami Valley.
- Access to Justice Campaign, Co-Chair (2017)
- The Greater Dayton Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ #100), Trustee & Chairman (1996-2006). Member, Founding Committee for the establishment of Foreign Trade Zone #100. General Counsel, 1996 - Present.
- 2003 Inventing Flight Committee, Trustee (2000-2003). A community board responsible for promoting the creation of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park and for planning and directing the celebration of the Centennial of Flight during the year 2003.
- Board of Community Contributors, Dayton Daily News (2005-Present)
- Graduate, Leadership Dayton Class of 1984
- Holy Angels Parish, Member
- The 100 Club, Member. A community organization devoted to recognition of heroic work by members of area police and fire departments.
- John Stuart Society, University of Dayton
- Sorin Society, University of Notre Dame
- Notre Dame Club of Dayton, Member
Areas Of Practice
- Corporate and Business Law
- Real Estate
- Non-Profit Corporations
- Business Planning
- Shopping Centers Law
- Zoning Law
- District of Columbia
- U.S. Tax Court
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio
- U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
- George Washington University National Law Center, Washington, District of Columbia
- LL.M. Tax, Master of Law(s) in Taxation - 00/1972
- Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, Indiana
- J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence - 00/1969
- University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
- M.B.A., Master of Business Administration - 00/1975
- St Mary's University, Winona, Minnesota
- B.A., Bachelor of Arts - 1966
- University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Master of Library & Information Science - 2006
- Oxford University
- Additional Study in Library Science - 2001
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Adjunct Assistant Professor of Law-University of Dayton School of Law
- American Bar Associations
- Ohio State Bar Association
- Dayton Bar Association
- International Council of Shopping Centers