Michael Leigh’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation, wealth and investment management litigation, and white collar criminal defense. He represents publicly traded and privately held companies in corporate governance, securities, and commercial litigation, and advises companies and individuals in internal corporate and regulatory investigations.
Mr. Leigh has represented Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies in internal and regulatory investigations involving a wide variety of issues, including embezzlement; fraud; restatement of company financials and SEC filings; foreign corruption and bribery, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); commercial bribery; and unauthorized access to telecommunications and computer systems. He has represented clients in investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Congress, and various U.S. Attorney offices and state attorneys general offices.
Mr. Leigh routinely represents broker-dealers and financial advisors in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrations and investigations. He also represents registered investment advisers (RIAs) in securities compliance, disclosure requirements, and state and federal audits and investigations.
Mr. Leigh also represents individuals, boards, and companies in securities class and derivative actions, fiduciary duty litigation, M&A litigation, and consumer class actions. He has represented numerous clients in contract and commercial disputes, in particular disputes involving financial products and transactions.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Leigh was an associate and partner at the large regional law firm Stites & Harbison PLLC (2015-2018). He also was an associate (2010-2014) at the international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP in New York. Mr. Leigh served from 2013-2014 as a Special Assistant Federal Defender in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York where he was court-appointed counsel for criminal defendants.
- Won dismissal of federal fraud, gross negligence, and breach of contract litigation involving a complex commodities options and futures trading strategy.
- Regularly represents major financial institutions and registered representatives in FINRA arbitration proceedings and FINRA investigations.
- Advises registered investment advisory firm on issues of federal and state securities laws, including the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related state investment adviser laws.
- Won dismissal of $35 million fraud and fiduciary duty lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction in New York state court. MHS Capital LLC v. Goggin et al., Case No. 652956/2015 (N.Y. Supreme Court, Commercial Division, New York County, May 2, 2017).
- Won summary judgment as to all class claims in multistate federal court class action litigation concerning fixed-index annuities (FIAs). Abbit v. ING USA Annuity & Life Ins. Co., 252 F. Supp. 3d 999 (S.D. Cal. 2017); Abbit v. ING USA Annuity & Life Ins. Co., 2016 WL 4542204, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117630 (S.D. Cal., Case No. 3:13-cv-02310, Aug. 20, 2016).
- Counsel to former Hertz CFO in successfully dismissing shareholder securities lawsuit in New Jersey federal district court. Ramirez v. Hertz Global holdings, Inc., 2:13-cv-7050 (D.N.J. Oct. 8, 2014).
- Counsel to private equity purchaser in securing summary judgment against shareholder class action lawsuit alleging aiding and abetting violations of fiduciary duties in $1.9 billion going-private merger. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Volgenau et al., 2013 Del. Ch. Lexis 197, 2013 WL 4009193 (Del. Ch., C.A. No. 6354-VCN, Aug. 5, 2013), aff’d 91 A. 3d 562 (Del. 2014).
- Counsel to major financial services company in securing dismissal of shareholder class action lawsuit alleging breach of fiduciary duties in $5.7 billion going-private merger. Edelman v. Protective Life Corporation et al., No. 01-Civ-2014-90247400 (Ala. Cir. Ct. Jeff. Co. Sept. 19, 2014).
- Represented major payment processing company in parallel Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Attorney Office investigations into embezzlement of company funds by employees, and falsification of company financial and other records. Conducted internal investigation at company, managed subpoena response, and assisted company with restating SEC filings and negotiating settlements with wrongdoers.
- Counseled independent directors of worldwide media company in connection with parallel U.S. Department of Justice and U.K. Ministry of Justice investigations involving Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other civil and criminal statutes.
- Won summary judgment in defamation lawsuit in federal court. Boda v. Phelan et al., 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 104955, 2014 WL 3756300 (E.D.N.Y., No. 11-Civ-28, July 30, 2014).
- Defeated defamation suit against client in state court. Lema v. Zumba et al., No. 57429/11 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. Sept. 25, 2012).
- Represented defendants in criminal cases and sentencing involving various federal crimes, including narcotics trafficking, firearms, robbery, kidnapping, embezzlement, and illegal entry, among others.
- Represented plaintiffs in federal environmental litigation raising claims under Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Education & Clerkship
- New York Law School, JD, magna cum laude (2010)
- University of Louisville, B.S., Political Science (2007)
Honors & Awards
- Kentucky Super Lawyers – Rising Star 2018