Login | December 18, 2018

Carmen Roberto to receive Professionalism Award

Pictured here is Carmen Roberto with his daughter Kayt. (Photo courtesy of Kayt Roberto).

Legal News Reporter

Published: November 10, 2017

He was one of the forces behind the creation of the Akron Bar Association’s Professionalism Award, now attorney Carmen V. Roberto has been selected as this year’s recipient.

The award, which was established by the bar association’s board of trustees in 1996, is given to lawyers who demonstrate an exceptional dedication to the standards of the profession and display integrity and humanitarian concern in the community.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Roberto, of counsel at Niekamp, Weisensell, Mutersbaugh & Mastrantonio. “Over 20 years ago attorney Jane Taylor and I discussed the concept of creating the award.

“Jane was the Akron Bar President at the time,” said Roberto, 69, who lives Green. “To have been chosen as one of its recipients is amazing.”

Jane Taylor, former director for pro bono and communications at the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, said there’s no question that Roberto deserves the award.

“I’ve known Carmen since at least the 1990s and have witnessed firsthand his dedication to the profession and to the Akron legal community,” said Taylor who retired on Sept 29. “He values his position as an attorney and is devoted to upholding the profession’s high standards.

“In addition to his widespread volunteer efforts at the local, state and national bar associations, I’ve also witnessed countless instances of him helping and mentoring fellow lawyers.”

Born and raised in East Hartford, Connecticut, Roberto graduated from George J. Penney High School (now East Hartford H.S.).

Roberto said when he started at the University of Connecticut he was planning on being an English literature professor so he majored in English and speech and minored in history.

His older brother William was attending The University of Akron School of Law and Roberto had visited. He said he liked the area so he applied to Akron Law and was accepted.

Roberto later joined the ROTC while at Akron Law. When he returned from the Army and passed bar exams in Ohio and Connecticut, he continued his legal career as a law clerk at the Summit County Common Pleas Court.

One year later, he joined Miller & Morris, where he focused on criminal defense work and handled some probate and family law matters.

After 18 months, he left to open his own practice.

From 1976 through 1982, Roberto worked for the city of Cuyahoga Falls, first as an assistant prosecutor and later as assistant law director and law director under the late Mayor Robert J. Quirk.

He then returned to private practice, joining the firm that would eventually be known as Vasko, Roberto & Evans.

Robert Hunt, a sole practitioner in Fairlawn, is a former roommate and longtime friend of Roberto’s. The two shared office space briefly and worked together in Cuyahoga Falls.

“Carmen and I were both assistant prosecutors and when he became law director, I was his deputy law director.

“Carmen takes great pride in his work and gets very good results for his clients,” said Hunt. “He’s always well prepared and extremely deferential to members of the bar and the judiciary.

“Carmen is a great example of what younger lawyers should strive to be.”

Prior to starting at Niekamp, Weisensell, Mutersbaugh & Mastrantonio on Oct. 1, 2007, Roberto was a sole practitioner.

In his current position, he focuses almost exclusively on criminal law.

Roberto said ever since he started practicing he’s always followed one rule: “Treat people the way you want them to treat you,” he said. “The best way to behave properly is to imagine that your mom is in the room with you.

“In all the years I’ve been practicing, I am proud to say I have conducted myself without raising my voice or lying to a client or colleague. I tell people your license to practice is not a license to be rude.”

Jack Weisensell, a partner at Niekamp, Weisensell, Mutersbaugh & Mastrantonio, described Roberto as a “lawyer’s lawyer.

“He’s very ethical and always works to ensure the best outcome for his client, even if that outcome is not necessarily in his best interest or the firm’s.

“He has a great personality,” said Weisensell. “He is very respectful to the courts, court system, judges and other lawyers. When he shows up for work he is impeccably dressed, which is a part of being respectful, and gives back to the community in many ways.”

A member of the Akron Bar Association since 1973, Roberto served as president from 1995 to 1996 and has chaired numerous committees, including the mock trial committee, the gala and scholarship committee, the grievance committee, the Law Week committee and the former criminal law committee (now Criminal Law section).

An avid guitar player, Roberto assisted in creating and participated in “Jammin’ for Justice,” an event where local bands face off to raise money for a charitable cause.

He also started two out-of-state CLEs, one of which is the long-running workers’ compensation seminar in Las Vegas.

Roberto is also a former president of the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Metropolitan Bar Association Consortium.

Denny Ramey served as executive director of the Ohio State Bar Association when Roberto was president.

“Carmen loves being a lawyer and was always willing to take on leadership positions that might help the profession,” said Ramey, owner of Denny Ramey Association Consulting.

“He’s the guy you can count on to think clearly about any issue or problem. He always does the right thing because he has the highest integrity.

“Carmen is a renaissance man of sorts,” said Ramey. “He not only immerses himself in the law, but he has outside interests. He and I play golf together, he cooks, enjoys good wine and he definitely loves his daughter.”

Roberto currently sits on the OSBA Council of Delegates, the American Bar Association House of Delegates as well as on the boards of the Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company (OBLIC), the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, the Ohio Public Defender Commission, the American Counsel Association and The University of Akron School of Law’s Advancement Council, which helped raise funds for the recent renovation.

In 2002 he received the law school’s Outstanding Alumni Award. He has established two scholarships at Akron Law, including The Carmen V. Roberto, Esq. Scholarship and The Anthony A. and Josephine T. Roberto Scholarship in honor of his parents.

In addition, Roberto previously sat on the boards of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, the Summit County Charter Review Commission and the Ohio State and Akron bar foundations.

Roberto frequently volunteers at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.

“What many people do not realize is that Ohio has a major problem feeding its residents and something needs to be done about it.

“I’ve made personal donations to the local foodbank as well as some cancer charities since I am a cancer survivor,” Roberto said.

His daughter, Kayt Roberto said she’s very proud of her father.

“From the time my parents divorced when I was about six, he basically raised me on his own,” said Kayt, a Latin and ancient Greek languages post-baccalaureate student at the University of Pennsylvania. “He was always there for me, even if that meant he was up late working. To this day, he is the first person I call when I have a problem.

“I am amazed by his energy,” she said. “He is involved in so many organizations, while still practicing law. He does not do any of it to get praise, but he has won so many awards. I would say that no one deserves the Professionalism award more than he does.”

Roberto will receive the Professionalism Award on Nov. 14 at the Firestone Country Club.