Michael Sommer, a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, is a partner in the New York office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where his practice focuses on white collar criminal defense and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement defense, as well as complex commercial litigation and antitrust litigation.
Prior to joining the firm, Michael was a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, where he represented both businesses and individuals under investigation by the Enforcement Division of the SEC, conducted internal investigations in response to potential or pending criminal and SEC inquiries, and represented clients before the SEC staff.
Michael also successfully represented businesses in a variety of matters, including contract and licensing disputes, and trademark and other intellectual property matters. Michael also has conducted extensive trial work in white collar criminal matters and successfully represented numerous clients under criminal investigation, frequently resolving matters without charges being filed. His experience includes:
- Representative Civil Matters:
- Michael represented Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in a patent infringement action brought by Momenta Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in federal court in Boston. The jury found in favor of Michael’s client, concluding that the patent at issue was invalid and that the plaintiffs’ inequitable conduct also barred their claims.
- Michael represented a major apparel company in a trademark infringement and breach of contract action brought by another major apparel company. After a two-week arbitration, the panel found in favor of Michael’s client.
- Michael represented Mylan Pharmaceuticals in a patent damages jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. At the conclusion of the evidence, and after Michael’s summation revealed the deep flaws in the plaintiffs’ position, the case settled for a fraction of the amount being demanded.
- Michael represented the former CEO and president of a national title insurance company in a breach of contract case against his former employer. The case proceeded to trial in Santa Rosa, California, and after five weeks of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Michael’s client on all claims. The judgment represented the largest judgment ever entered on behalf of an individual plaintiff in Sonoma County.
- Michael represented Chevron Corp. in a breach of contract and tortious interference action arising from Argentina’s expropriation of shares of a natural oil and gas company. Chevron prevailed when the complaint against it was dismissed.
- Michael represented Oak Hill Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, in a breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty action in Los Angeles Superior Court. Michael’s client prevailed on summary judgment.
- Michael represented Mylan Pharmaceuticals in a breach of contract action brought by Bristol Myers-Squibb. Mylan succeeded in having the complaint against it dismissed.
- Michael represented the selling shareholders in a dispute over earn-out payments under a merger and sale agreement claimed to be owed from the acquiring corporation pursuant to the terms of the agreement. After extensive international discovery, the case proceeded to trial as an arbitration, and after four weeks of testimony and argument, a determination was entered in favor of Michael’s client on all claims, including those for attorneys’ fees and costs.
- Michael represented a real estate holding company and its president sued for housing discrimination. Michael’s client prevailed when summary judgment was granted in its favor.
- Michael defended Jordache Enterprises and its affiliates against a federal trademark infringement and dilution action brought by Polo Ralph Lauren regarding mounted-polo-player designs his client sought to use on various clothing and accessory items. Following a three-week trial, the jury found in favor of Michael’s client on three of four versions of the disputed trademark, concluding that those graphics did not infringe the competitor’s trademark rights.
- He represented a trademark licensor in an arbitration in which a licensee sought $12 million for breach of contract and fraudulent inducement. After testimony was heard, the licensee dismissed all of its claims and agreed to pay the legal fees of Michael’s client.
- Michael defended an apparel company against an action brought by a model in the Southern District of New York to recover damages for the alleged unauthorized use of her likeness in a television commercial, with the jury finding in favor of his client on all claims.
- He represented a major medical-device manufacturer in a federal district court trial in New Jersey against breach-of-contract claims brought by another manufacturer. Prior to reaching jury resolution, the court dismissed several of the plaintiff’s claims and the case was settled on terms highly favorable to Michael’s client.
- Michael represented clients who asserted claims of tortious interference with a contract in the global shipping industry in a civil jury trial in the Southern District of New York. The jury found in favor of his clients, awarding them more than $57 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
- Representative Criminal Matters:
- Michael represented a managing director of a large New York investment bank who was charged criminally in federal court with insider trading and sued civilly by the SEC for the same conduct. Michael persuaded both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the SEC to dismiss their respective cases.
- Michael represented a partner of a major accounting firm who was being investigated in connection with tax shelters offered to clients of the firm. Michael succeeded in convincing the U.S. Attorney’s Office not to seek an indictment of the client.
- Michael represented the president of a software company indicted for bank fraud. Following Michael’s investigation and presentation to the government, the indictment was dismissed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
- Michael defended a former senior vice president of a technology company against charges of securities fraud and conspiracy in a six-week trial in the Eastern District of New York, with the jury finding his client not guilty on all counts.
- He represented the lead defendant in an insider-trading case in the Eastern District of New York. After extensive pre-trial litigation in both the district court and Court of Appeals, in which Michael argued that the government’s theory was invalid as a matter of law, the government dismissed the indictment with prejudice.
- Michael persuaded the New York State Attorney General’s office to dismiss its indictment of a medical professional charged with Medicaid fraud, arguing that the prosecution’s theory was constitutionally invalid.
- He represented the lead defendant in a three-defendant case who was charged with criminal tax fraud and conspiracy in federal criminal court, securing an acquittal on all counts.
- Michael represented the lead defendant—a former president and CEO of a major manufacturing company—in an eight-defendant trial in which his client was charged with mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering in the Northern District of Ohio. Following a four-month jury trial, his client was acquitted on all 300 counts on which he was charged.
Before joining McDermott Will & Emery, Michael previously spent seven years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In this role, he investigated and prosecuted a wide array of securities fraud cases, including cases involving insider trading, fraudulent financial reporting, embezzlement, and various so-called Ponzi schemes. As a white collar prosecutor, Michael worked closely with the SEC, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and various investigative groups within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He also was appointed acting chief of the office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Overall, he represented the United States in more than 20 criminal jury trials.Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michael was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.Michael is a member of the firm’s board of directors.
- J.D., New York University School of Law, 1987
Cum Laude; Order of the Coif; Editor, New York University Law Review
- B.A., Government, Wesleyan University, 1983
- State Bar of New York, First Department
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
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