Practice Areas

  • Complex Business Litigation
  • White Collar Criminal Defense
  • Securities Litigation
  • Representation of Emerging Companies


Duke University Law School

  • J.D. 2011, magna cum laude
  • Class of 2011 Award for Most Outstanding Student in Finance and Business Organizations Law
  • Extern at SEC Headquarters in Division of Trading and Markets, Office of Clearance and Settlement

Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business

  • B.S.M. 2008, magna cum laude

Bar Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • State Bar of Georgia

James L. Michaels

James L. Michaels is an experienced litigator and commercial lawyer who has represented a wide variety of clients in high-stakes disputes with business counterparties and government agencies.  James has a broad-based litigation practice, focusing on the representation of companies and individuals in the finance, health care, technology, and energy industries. His vigorous representation has helped lead to the successful resolution of numerous types of claims brought against financial institutions and investment firms, consumer class-action lawsuits against Fortune 500 companies, property development disputes, business divorces, and countless cases arising from contract disputes and alleged breaches of fiduciary duty.

James has guided companies and individuals through some of their most sensitive governmental interactions and internal investigations, including obtaining successful resolutions of False Claims Act investigations and lawsuits, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations, and numerous types of fraud and corruption investigations. He has represented clients before the U.S. Department of Justice in both civil and criminal contexts, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and numerous other U.S. and international governmental bodies and regulators. Some of James’ most successful resolutions have occurred when Jimmy and his team were able to persuade the government to drop or settle cases before suit had been filed or indictments had been issued.

In addition to his active litigation and investigations docket, James enjoys counseling emerging companies and start-ups, typically in an outside general counsel role, providing advice relating to financing, commercial contracting, vendor relationships, employment issues, and the myriad other issues a growing company faces on its way to success. James has negotiated and drafted documentation for multi-million-dollar investments, complex LLC operating agreements, commercial partnership agreements, and more.

Before joining KCO, James was the General Counsel of 8 Rivers Capital, LLC, a technology development company, and the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of its subsidiary 8 Rivers Advisors, LLC, a FINRA member broker-dealer. Prior to his time at 8 Rivers, James was an associate with the Special Matters/Government Investigations team at King & Spalding LLP.

  • Represented medical device manufacturer in False Claims Act investigation relating to a device’s alleged failure to meet safety standards; after numerous meetings and presentations explaining the client’s position, federal prosecutors declined to intervene in the case.
  • Persuaded foreign government agency to not pursue any action against automobile manufacturer regarding the circumstances surrounding an automobile recall after conducting thorough internal investigation of manufacturer’s practices and presenting conclusions to the agency.
  • Represented large accounting firm in connection with a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into audit improprieties.
  • Took over a False Claims Act investigation from another law firm at the eleventh hour and oversaw settlement of all claims with relator and the government on terms favorable to client.
  • Represented medical device manufacturer in False Claims Act investigation alleging “off-label” marketing of device; successful communications with federal prosecutors led to the government not taking any action whatsoever in the matter for years.
  • Represented agribusiness conglomerate in Department of Homeland Security investigation alleging workforce management issues.
  • Defended major financial services firm in dozens of FINRA arbitrations arising from the implosion of a series of high-yield funds during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Resolved dozens of cases on favorable terms and worked others up to try at FINRA Arbitration hearings.
  • Obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions in Federal District Courts throughout the nation preventing non-customers from invoking the FINRA arbitration process against broker-dealer client.
  • Initiated multi-million-dollar derivative suit under the American Arbitration Association Construction Arbitration Rules on behalf of part-owner of large shopping complex.
  • Represented business owner in commercial “business divorce” dispute regarding novel technology used in Hurricane Katrina cleanup; won a procedural motion that delayed the litigation for several months, leaving the client delighted; protected celebrity associate of client from being deposed or appearing in court, keeping his name out of the public eye.
  • Defended investment firm in federal suit brought by widow of NFL player alleging fraud; persuaded federal court to compel arbitration even though plaintiff never signed arbitration agreement.
  • Defended large oil company in litigation involving about fifty plaintiffs arising from pipeline leak in posh Salt Lake City suburb.
  • Represented a European bank in a lawsuit filed against it by a former investment advisor who was associated with the bank. Drafted a motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds, which was granted, resulting in the dismissal of all claims against client.
  • Won full custody for a pro bono client as first chair in a six-hour trial, despite client, the father, not being filiated to child; showed that plaintiff, the grandmother, had repeatedly lied to the court during cross-examination.