Education & Background
Michael’s experience spans two coasts: he was raised in the San Luis Obispo area and received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University. He returned to the west coast to obtain a J.D. degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where he was a member of the school’s Law Review. Michael served as the principal outside counsel for a Fortune 500 company for matters in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for more than ten years. He provided the client strategic planning and legal analysis of business issues along with political and policy recommendations.
In the trusts and estates areas, Michael has planned and administered hundreds of estates. His experience has included the following:
- Appointed by the probate court as both a Special Master and as a Special Administrator to resolve complex issues in very large estates.
- Currently serves as trustee on several large private California trusts.
- Principal outside counsel for a regional bank trust department.
- Testified as an expert witness on numerous occasions in matters relating to estate administration and trust matters.
- Lectured on estate planning and administration matters and served on CEB panels.
In the area of real estate transactions, Michael has been involved in substantial acquisitions and sales of real property as well as shopping center lease transactions throughout California including:
- Negotiation of numerous leases with major national tenants.
- Negotiations of shopping center ground leases.
- Purchases and sales of commercial development projects.
- Development of hotel projects.
- Michael was instrumental in the California State Bar’s acquisition of its headquarters building in San Francisco and its office in Los Angeles.
In the area of land use and development matters, Michael has handled the following types of matters:
- Representation of landowners in major annexations to accomplish commercial and residential developments.
- Served as lead counsel in the negotiation of development agreements and memoranda of understanding with regulatory agencies to achieve and perfect entitlement issues.
- Negotiations with regulatory agencies regarding environmental issues.
- Michael has served as chief counsel in connection with the negotiation of both regulatory and civil claims regarding several large environmental contamination sites. These have included:
- Negotiation to resolution of hundreds of civil claims of property and business owners.
- Negotiations with federal, state and local regulatory agencies regarding permit conditions to remediate petroleum contamination as well as sanctions imposed for the contamination.
- Supervision of the legal issues surrounding redevelopment of remediated sites.
Business & Community
Michael’s business and counseling experience extends beyond his law practice. He served as a Board Member and as Chairman of a Community Bank and thereafter as a Board Member of a Regional Bank for 20 years. Currently, he is the Lead Director on the Board of a publicly traded company in the mineral and mining sector.
Michael has been active in professional organizations, having served both locally as president of the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association and statewide as a member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California. Michael served as both Treasurer and Vice President of the State Bar of California.
His community activities have included service as President and a Member of the Board of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, President and a Member of the Board of the San Luis Obispo County Foundation for the Performing Arts Center, Chairman and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for the Diocese of Monterey, as well as service on numerous other community based boards and commissions.
He is the recipient of numerous awards for his service to the community and the legal profession and was named San Luis Obispo’s Citizen of the Year in 2004.
Michael was an officer in the U.S. Army from 1970-72. He is married to Sandy Morris and has four adult children.