Attorney Profiles

Ronald R. Petroff

Managing Partner
rrp@petrofflawoffices.com

Erika M. Smitherman

Partner
ems@petrofflawoffices.com

Chris L. Trolinger

Senior Associate Attorney
clt@petrofflawoffices.com

Michelle J. Askins

Associate Attorney
mja@petrofflawoffices.com

 

Ronald R. Petroff

Managing Partner
rrp@petrofflawoffices.com

Ronald R. Petroff was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated high school from the University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio. He attended Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate where he earned a bachelor’s degree and double majored in Political Science and American History. He graduated cum laude and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Mr. Petroff then attended The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where he earned a certificate in Alternate Dispute Resolution and was a member of the National Labor and Employment Law Moot Court Team. Mr. Petroff also was a member of the National Trial Competition Team. Mr. Petroff earned a CALI Excellence for the Future Award for his perfect score in the class, Criminal Law in the Boardroom.

Mr. Petroff has been voted by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys as one of the 10 best family law lawyers under the age of 40 in the state of Ohio for 2014 and 2015. He won a similar award from the American Society of Legal Advocates in 2014. In 2015, Mr. Petroff was voted as being one of the nation’s top 1% of attorneys by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. Finally, in 2015, Mr. Petroff was rated by Super Lawyers as a rising star in the field of Family Law. Mr. Petroff has consistently held the highest 10/10 rating on the attorney directory site AVVO and recently won, for the second time, AVVO’s “Client’s Choice” award.

Mr. Petroff is admitted to practice in front of all state courts and agencies in the State of Ohio as well as before the United States District Court for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio.

Mr. Petroff is fluent in Russian and is passionate about giving back to the community. After several years living in the Arena District, Mr. Petroff settled in New Albany with his family. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, S.C.U.B.A. Diving, theater, and cheering on all of Cleveland’s professional sports teams. Mr. Petroff is also passionate about his two alma maters, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Vanderbilt Commodores.

Below are several recent awards Mr. Petroff has earned in the field of Family Law referenced above:

Erika M. Smitherman

Partner
ems@petrofflawoffices.com

Erika can be reached by calling her direct dial at 614-222-4295

Erika M. Smitherman was born in Norwalk, Ohio and graduated from Norwalk High School in 1993, where both of her parents were teachers. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University, with minors in both English and Philosophy. Her spring 1997 graduation in the Horseshoe was rained out; however, her graduation was made official when she picked up her diploma from a box on the floor of the French Field House! While at Ohio State, Ms. Smitherman’s activities included serving as a University Ambassador, chairing several programs in the Student Alumni Council, working as a Resident Advisor, serving on the Homecoming Steering Committee, and membership in the Sullivant Society Honorary. Ms. Smitherman remains active in the Ohio State Alumni Association. After graduating from Ohio State, Ms. Smitherman furthered her studies at Capital University Law School. There, she served as a mentor to first year students, worked in the Admissions Office, and was a member of the Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity. While at Capital, Ms. Smitherman interned at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and practiced her research and writing skills. After graduating from Capital in May 2000, she was sworn into the Ohio Bar in November 2000.

Ms. Smitherman began employment at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in the Consumer Protection Section and later, she simultaneously worked in the Chief Counsel’s Staff. As an Assistant Attorney General, she investigated consumer complaints, effectively mediated settlements, litigated against companies accused of statutory violations and prepared confidential court papers, legal memoranda, and briefs for trial and appellate proceedings.

Ms. Smitherman became an Assistant Chief Legal Counsel in the Auditor of State’s Office, focusing on the Cleveland and Youngstown regions. While there, she provided legal advice to state auditors, trained government officials to effectively apply state laws to their specific municipalities, and collaborated with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office regarding unique litigation on behalf of the Auditor.

After a few years in a small solo practice, Ms. Smitherman became a child advocacy attorney for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in Franklin County. At CASA, she represented the best interests of children who were found by the court to be abused, neglected and/or dependent. Many of these children were placed in the custody of Franklin County Children’s Services for their own protection and Ms. Smitherman helped to ensure that the children received appropriate services and treatment by working closely with the child’s Guardian ad Litem and the Juvenile Court. She also provided training to volunteers who were appointed by the court to serve as Guardians ad Litem.

It was through Ms. Smitherman’s involvement with CASA that she met Judge Elizabeth Gill of the Franklin County Domestic and Juvenile Court and subsequently accepted the invitation to become her staff attorney. While working with Judge Gill, she prepared published legal opinions, performed legal research and analysis on complex matters of family law, assisted the Judge in preparing for hearings and trials, reviewed and commented on dissolution paperwork submitted to the court for review, and facilitated the pro se dissolutions and civil protection orders on the date of hearing. During her time with Judge Gill, Ms. Smitherman developed an interest in the private practice of family law and appreciates the opportunity she had to learn from such a fine mentor.

Ms. Smitherman is a member of the Columbus Bar Association and Women Lawyers of Franklin County. She is admitted to practice in all state and local courts in Ohio and in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Ms. Smitherman serves her community on the Board of Directors of Faith Educare, volunteers as her daughter’s Girl Scout Leader and is an active member of her church.

In 2016, Ms. Smitherman was honored to be chosen as an adjunct professor at the Capital University Law School  Paralegal Program, focusing on the instruction of family law topics.

Ms. Smitherman resides in Canal Winchester with her family including Troy, who is a firefighter/paramedic for Madison Township, and their three children: two sons, who are avid soccer players, and one daughter, who is working toward her black belt in karate. They share their home with their dog and cat. Ms. Smitherman and her family enjoy spending time together during family movie nights, swimming, traveling, camping, jumping on their trampoline, biking to the covered bridge, volunteering at community and charity events, and spending time with family and friends.

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Chris L. Trolinger

Senior Associate Attorney
clt@petrofflawoffices.com

Chris L. Trolinger was born in Springdale, Arkansas. He attended and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude, having been awarded the Harold Hantz scholarship given to the most outstanding philosophy student in the Philosophy Department. He received his Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2008 and awarded the Arthur James Seelye Small Business Law Award for excellence in business law. During law school, he served as Chief Symposium Editor on the Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal and was a member of the Jessup International Law Moot Court team. Mr. Trolinger earned a CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Business Associations and Appellate Advocacy for perfect scores in those classes.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Trolinger practiced in a general practice law firm for eight years. During those eight years, Mr. Trolinger practiced in the areas of family law, criminal defense, employment law, real estate, and general civil litigation. Mr. Trolinger has successfully represented clients in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Court of Claims, several state appellate courts, and numerous county courts across the State of Ohio. Mr. Trolinger has been rated by Super Lawyers as a rising star each year since 2014.

Mr. Trolinger is admitted to practice in front of all state courts and agencies in the State of Ohio, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Mr. Trolinger focuses his practice in the area of family law.

Mr. Trolinger resides in Hilliard and in his free time enjoys music, golf, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Mr. Trolinger is currently the Family Law Section Chair on the board of trustees of the Ohio Association for Justice. He is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, Columbus Bar Association, Central Ohio Association for Justice, and the Union County Bar Association.

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Michelle J. Askins

Associate Attorney
mja@petrofflawoffices.com

Michelle J. Askins was born and raised in Lima, Ohio, a small city in Northwestern Ohio. During her junior year at Lima Central Catholic High School, Ms. Askins attended the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., which kick started her desire to attend law school. During the summer between her junior and senior years, she worked as a part-time secretary for a local probate attorney which only served to reinforce her aspirations of law school.

After graduating as her high school’s class valedictorian in 2006, Ms. Askins attended The Ohio State University, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology in 2010. That fall, Ms. Askins began law school at Capital University, during which she clerked for a solo practitioner in the field of family law. This clerkship lead her to discover that her true passion lay in the field of domestic relations. During her final year of law school, Ms. Askins was a legal intern with the Capital University Law School Legal Clinic, working on cases for the underprivileged, including divorces, custody matters, civil protection orders, and Guardian ad Litem matters. Ms. Askins also received a CALI Award of Excellence in adoption law for receiving the highest score in the class.

Ms. Askins earned her Juris Doctor, with a concentration in Children and Family Law, in May 2013. She was subsequently admitted to the Ohio bar in November 2013. Since that time she has worked strictly in the field of domestic relations. Ms. Askins is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Association, and is a member of their respective family law committees.

Ms. Askins resides in Dublin with her fiancé, Andrew, a Criminal Defense Attorney, and their dog, Luna. As an alumna, she is an avid Ohio State Buckeyes fan and spends each fall and winter zealously cheering on their football and basketball teams. She also enjoys running, swimming, and traveling around the United States as often as possible.

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