Michael C. Rakower is a founding member of Rakower Law. His practice focuses on commercial litigation in federal and state courts, and also involves white-collar criminal defense of individuals facing state and federal investigations. Some of his notable matters include:
- Representation of real estate financier in multi-party actions in federal and state courts concerning $140 million real estate transaction tainted by alleged fraud;
- Representation of United Nations vendor in federal lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $125 million arising from an alleged bribery and bid-rigging scheme that corrupted the United Nations;
- Representation of family members in partnership dispute concerning real estate asset worth $105 million;
- Representation of former CEO of major not-for-profit agency in dispute over agency’s refusal to pay retirement benefits valued in excess of $15 million;
- Appellate representation of an individual in high-profile will contest concerning an estate with estimated value of $1 billion;
- Pre-litigation counseling for the benefit of the Iraqi Government in connection with its investigation into kickback schemes arising out of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program;
- Representation of Argentine financial services entity in matter arising out of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy;
- Representation of limited partner of an insolvent hedge fund in “clawback” dispute with fund’s trustee;
- Representation of hedge fund in dispute concerning fraudulent sale of securities by rogue employee;
- Representation of hedge fund executive in suit involving gross negligence by global law firm;
- Representation of retail brokerage manager in federal “squawk box” investigation;
- Representation of high-ranking compliance department manager in connection with U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering compliance violations;
- Representation of Wal-Mart employees during investigation of incident that led to death of fellow worker on “Black Friday”;
- Representation of former Israeli combat fighter and military command instructor in multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit against New York City Police Department seeking damages arising from an alleged false arrest, illegal strip-search, and malicious prosecution;
- Representation of asbestos whistleblower working in a New York City public school for damages arising from alleged retaliation.
Mr. Rakower has been selected for inclusion in the New York Metro Edition of Super Lawyers every year since 2013, and has been named a “Top 100” attorney in the region since 2015. Since 2011, he has held a “Preeminent” AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been designated as a Platinum Client Champion, indicating the highest level of client satisfaction, every year since the ranking service began awarding the designation in 2017. Lawdragon has twice interviewed Mr. Rakower (2014, 2019) to report on his achievements in the law. In 2007, Lawyers USA profiled him as being among the “top eight” lawyers in the nation on a “fast track to making a significant impact” on the legal profession. The New York State Bar Association honored him as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year in 2006, recognizing his “commitment to the finest traditions of the Bar.”
Mr. Rakower previously worked in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the chambers of the Honorable Richard C. Wesley of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
At Latham & Watkins, Mr. Rakower led securities offerings valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars for issuers and underwriters and provided M&A counseling to investment banks. At the same time, Mr. Rakower counseled businesses devastated by the attack on the World Trade Center and obtained political asylum for refugees.
In 2003, following his tenure at Latham & Watkins, Mr. Rakower served in the Prosecutor’s Office of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), assisting in the prosecution of Rwandan military leaders for their role in the 1994 genocide. Upon his return, Mr. Rakower became Vice President of American Friends of the Kigali Public Library (AFKPL), a charitable organization instrumental in building Rwanda’s first public library.
In 2004, as senior law clerk to Judge Richard Wesley, Mr. Rakower worked on a variety of federal appeals, including cases involving antitrust, securities, constitutional, immigration, civil rights, tax, tort, national security, and criminal law.
Mr. Rakower obtained his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. He received his J.D. in 1999 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served on the Managing Board of the Virginia Journal of International Law.
A passionate advocate, Mr. Rakower tirelessly pursues extraordinary results for every client.
- B.A. 1993, University of Pennsylvania, cum laude
- J.D. 1999, University of Virginia School of Law
- Managing Board, Virginia Journal of International Law
- New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Richard C. Wesley, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
- 2017 – 2020, “Recognized Practitioner,” Chambers USA
- 2015 – 2020, Recognized by Super Lawyers as one of the “Top 100” attorneys in the New York Metropolitan Area
- 2013 – 2020, Selected for Inclusion in New York Metropolitan Edition of Super Lawyers
- 2017 – 2020, Martindale-Hubbell Platinum Client Champion Award
- 2013 – 2020, Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Award
- 2019, Interviewed by Lawdragon After High-Profile Trial Victory
- 2016, Lifetime Achievement Member, America’s Top 100 Attorneys
- 2013 – 2016, Panel Judge, Rising Stars, American Lawyer Media
- 2014, Profiled in Lawdragon’s “Lawyer Limelight” Column
- 2011, Selected for Inclusion in New York Metropolitan Edition of Super Lawyers – Rising Stars
- 2007, Recognized by Lawyers USA as One of Eight “up and coming” Lawyers in the Nation
- 2006, Recipient of New York State Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award
- “Attorney Fees Under ERISA §502(g)(1): An Exception to the American Rule,” New York Law Journal, October 10, 2019 (co-authored with Melissa Yang).
- “Seeking Benefits Owed Under an ERISA Top-Hat Plan: A Primer for Litigators,” New York Law Journal, July 5, 2017 (co-authored with Melissa Yang) (re-published in NY Litigator).
- “The Section Hosts a Webinar on the Impact of Recent Amendments to the Federal Rules,” reprinted with permission from Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Newsletter, Summer 2016, Vol. 22, No. 2, published by the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207.
- “Rule 68 Offers of Judgment and Mootness, Especially for Collective or Class Actions,” Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, May 6, 2015 with addendum (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee) (re-printed with permission from NYLitigator)
- “Statutory Indemnification of Officers and Directors: Foresight is Power,” New York Law Journal, October 26, 2015 (co-authored with Melissa Yang) (re-published in NY Litigator)
- “The Section Reports on Proposed Amendments to Federal Rules and Appendix of Forms,” reprinted with permission from: Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Newsletter, Winter 2013, Vol. 19, No. 3, published by the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207.
- “Guidance on Proposed Federal Rules,” New York Law Journal, December 6, 2013 (letter to the editor co-authored with James Parver)
- “Report on Proposed Amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 1, 4, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 84 and Appendix of Forms,” Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, October 1, 2013 (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee)
- “Report on District Court Review of Magistrate Judge’s Reports and Recommendations: Should Arguments Not Previously Made to the Magistrate Judge Be Considered,” Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, July 9, 2013 (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee)
- “Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Should Be Revised to Allow for Electronic Service of Papers Without Prior Consent,” Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, December 12, 2012 (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee)
- “Whether The Heightened Pleading Requirements of Twombly and Iqbal Apply to Pleading Affirmative Defenses,” Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, March 21, 2012 (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee)
- “Report on Proposed Amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45,” Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, January 10, 2012 (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee)
- “Myanmar or Burma: Can the West Help?” Clemens Nathan Research Centre, 2011 (contribution published on page 20)
- “The Supreme Court’s Proximate Cause Analysis Under RICO: A Distinction Between Direct and Foreseeable Harm,” NY Litigator, Summer 2011 (re-published in Civil RICO Report)
- “RICO Damages After Set-Off: Treble vs. Double Recoveries,” New York Law Journal, March 10, 2008 (re-published in Civil RICO Report and NY Litigator).
- “The Khmer Rouge: An Analysis of One of the World’s Most Brutal Regimes,” as published in To Oppose Any Foe: The Legacy of U.S. Intervention in Vietnam (R. Fisher, J. Moore & R. Turner eds., 2006)
- New York State Bar Association
- Executive Committee, Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, 2011–present
- Co-Chair, Committee on Federal Procedure, 2011-present
- Federal Bar Council
- Master, Inn of Court
- American Friends of the Kigali Public Library, 2005-2015
- Vice President and Board Member, 2005-2015
- The New York Bar Foundation
- Panelist, Civil Appeals and Argument, Commercial Litigation Academy, New York State Bar Association, 2019.
- Panelist, Trials, Commercial Litigation Academy, New York State Bar Association, 2017.
- Panelist, Is It Really Time to Change: Analyzing the Scope and Impact of the Recent Amendments to the Federal Rules, New York State Bar Association, 2016.
- Speaker, Anatomy of a U.S. Lawsuit, Buying Legal Council, 2016.
- Panelist, Litigation Career Paths in the Private Sector, New York City Bar Association, 2015.
- Witness, Hearing on Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, Washington, D.C. 2013.
- Faculty Member, Building and Managing a Small Law Firm, Fordham University School of Law, 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2015.
- Faculty Member, Wall Street Meltdown Puts Boards on the ‘Hot Seat,’ Practical Law Institute, 2009.
- Faculty Member, Civil RICO: Legal Overview and Tactical Considerations, New York State Bar Association, 2006 & 2007 (initially prepared with Jonathan D. Lupkin)
- Speaker, International Criminal Law and the Role of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Albany Law School, 2006.
- Moderator, Heroes of the Bar: A Salute to Pro Bono Achievements, Federal Bar Council, 2005.
- Panelist, Employment Litigation Under Title VII: Racial Slurs in the Workplace, New York City Bar Association, 2005.