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Michael C. Rakower

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Business Litigation Attorney in New York, NY

Rakower Law PLLC
260 Madison Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212-660-5550
Fax: 212-660-5551
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2013 - 2022
Selected to Rising Stars: 2011
Licensed in New York Since: 2000
Practice Areas: Business Litigation, General Litigation, Appellate
Attorney Profile

Michael C. Rakower is a founding member of Rakower Law. His practice focuses on commercial litigation in federal and state courts, and includes substantial experience in disputes concerning executive compensation, finance, real estate, not-for-profits, ERISA, civil RICO, and contracts in a variety of industries.  

Mr. Rakower has been identified by Super Lawyers as a "Top 100" attorney in the New York Metro region every year since 2015. He is ranked by Chambers USA as a top commercial litigator in New York.  Since 2011, he has held a “Preeminent” AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been designated as a Platinum Client Champion 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.  

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.

Additional Awards

America's Top 100 Attorneys, Lifetime Achievement Member, 2016. Featured in Lawdragon's “Lawyer Limelight” column, May 2014. Selected as a "Recognized Practitioner" by Chambers USA, 2017-19. Recipient of Martindale-Hubbell's Client Distinction Award, 2013-17. Panel Judge for ALM’s Rising Stars, 2013-16. Selected for inclusion in the 2011 New York Metropolitan edition of Super Lawyers — Rising Stars.

Publications

"Failing to Heed ERISA’s Claims Procedure: A Fast-Track to Court and De Novo Review,” New York Law Journal, November 5, 2021 (co-authored with Melissa Yang). “Incentive Compensation: When a Promise Becomes a Myth,” New York Law Journal, May 6, 2021 (co-authored with Melissa Yang). “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,” N.Y.L.J., July 5, 2017 (republished in NYLitigator, Fall 2017); “Statutory Indemnification of Officers and Directors: Foresight is Power,” N.Y.L.J., October 26, 2015, (republished in NYLitigator, Spring 2016); “Guidance on Proposed Federal Rules,” N.Y.L.J., December 6, 2013 (letter to the editor); "The Supreme Court's Proximate Cause Analysis Under RICO: A Distinction Between Direct and Foreseeable Harm," NY Litigator, Summer 2011 (republished in RICO Law Reporter, September 2011); "Building and Managing a Small Law Firm," Fordham University School of Law, 2011-12, 2014; "Wall Street Meltdown Puts Boards on the "Hot Seat," Practical Law Institute, 2009; "RICO Damages After Set-Off: Treble vs. Double Recoveries," N.Y.L.J., March 10, 2008 (republished in RICO Law Reporter, May 2008); "Civil RICO: Legal Overview and Tactical Considerations," New York State Bar Association, 2006 & 2007; "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, 2006. Executive Committee Member of NYSBA's Commercial and Federal Litigation Section and Co-Chair of that Section's Federal Procedure Committee.

Associations & Memberships

Vice President (2011-2015) and Board Member (2003-2015) of American Friends of the Kigali Public Library. Principal, The Law Office of Michael C. Rakower, P.C., 2005-2012. Of Counsel, The Law Offices of Gordon Mehler, PLLC, 2005-2012. Senior Law Clerk, The Hon. Richard C. Wesley, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 2004. Of Counsel, The Legal Aid Society, Prisoner's Rights Project, 2003. Legal Researcher, Office of the Prosecutor, United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 2002. Associate, Latham & Watkins, 1999-2002. Managing Board, Virginia Journal of International Law, 1998-1999.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice Areas
  • 50%Business Litigation
  • 30%General Litigation
  • 20%Appellate
Focus Areas

Litigation, Appeals

Selections

10 Years Super Lawyers
1 Years Rising Stars
  • Super Lawyers: 2013 - 2022
  • Rising Stars: 2011

Articles about Michael C. Rakower appearing in Super Lawyers

About Michael C. Rakower

First Admitted: 2000, New York

Professional Webpage: https://www.rakowerlaw.com/attorneys/michael-rakower/

Pro bono/Community Service

  • American Friends of the Kigali Public Library, 2003-2015 (Vice President, 2011-2015)

Bar/Professional Activity

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • Executive Committee Member of NYSBA's Commercial and Federal Litigation Section and Co-Chair of that Section's Federal Procedure Committee, 2011—.
  • Senior Law Clerk, The Hon. Richard C. Wesley, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 2004.
  • Associate, Latham & Watkins, 1999-2002.
  • Principal, Law Office of Michael C. Rakower, P.C. 2005-2012.
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Of Counsel, The Legal Aid Society, Prisoner's Rights Project, 2003.
  • Of Counsel, The Law Offices of Gordon Mehler, PLLC, 2005—2012.
  • New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • Legal Researcher, Office of the Prosecutor, United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 2002.
  • Member of New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), Federal Bar Council and American Inns of Court.
  • Managing Board, Virginia Journal of International Law, 1998-1999.
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Educational Background

  • University of Pennsylvania (B.A., cum laude), 1993

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • Served as panelist with New York Appellate Division Justice and premier appellate practitioners., Panelis, Civil Appeals and Argument, Commercial Litigation Academy, New York State Bar Association, 2019
  • This article analyzes attorney fee awards under ERISA 502(g)(1)., Co-Author, Attorney Fees Under ERISA 502(g)(1): An Exception to the American Rule, New York Law Journal, 2019
  • Speaker, Anatomy of a U.S. Lawsuit, Buying Legal Council, 2016.
  • "Statutory Indemnification of Officers and Directors: Foresight is Power," New York Law Journal, 2015
  • 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.
  • Co-Chair, Trial Practice Webinar Series, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, 2018
  • Panelist, “Questioning Witnesses,” NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, 2018
  • "Rule 68 Offers of Judgment and Mootness, Especially for Collective or Class Actions," Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, 2015
  • "The Section Hosts a Webinar on the Impact of Recent Amendments to the Federal Rules," New York State Bar Association, 2016
  • "Seeking Benefits Owned Under an ERISA Top-Hat Plan: A Primer for Litigators," New York Law Journal, 2017
  • "Building and Managing a Small Law Firm," Fordham University School of Law, 2011, 2012 & 2014.
  • "Wall Street Meltdown Puts Boards on the "Hot Seat,'" Practical Law Institute, 2009.
  • "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, 2006.
  • "Civil RICO: Legal Overview and Tactical Considerations," New York State Bar Association, 2006 & 2007.
  • "RICO Damages After Set-Off: Treble vs. Double Recoveries," N.Y.L.J., March 10, 2008 (republished in RICO Law Reporter, May 2008).
  • 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.
  • "The Supreme Court's Proximate Cause Analysis Under RICO: A Distinction Between Direct and Foreseeable Harm," NY Litigator, Summer 2011 (republished in RICO Law Reporter, September 2011).
  • "Guidance on Proposed Federal Rules," New York Law Journal, (letter to the editor co-authored with James Parver), December 6, 2013.
  • "Report on Proposed Amendmens 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, (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee), October 1, 2013.
  • "The Section Reports on Proposed Amendments to Federal Rules and Appendix of Forms," New York State Bar Association, 2013
  • "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, (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee), July 9, 2013.
  • "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, (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee), December 12, 2012.
  • "Whether The Heightened Pleading Requirements of wombly and Iqbal Apply to Pleading Affirmative Defenses," Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee), March 21, 2012.
  • "Report on Proposed Amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45," Federal Procedure Committee, NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, (group authorship; M. Rakower co-chair of Federal Procedure Committee), January 10, 2012.
  • "Myanmar or Burma: Can the West Help," Clemens Nathan Research Centre, 2011.

Other Outstanding Achievements

  • Michael Rakower featured in "Lawyer Limelight" column, 2019
  • Won attorneys' fee award of approximately $2.5 million on behalf of client in complex ERISA action., 2019
  • Won jury trial against fraudulent contractor and pierced corporate veil, 2018
  • Won trial leading to judgment worth approximately $14 million on behalf of former CEO, 2017
  • Won TRO and preliminary injunction in "bet the company" litigation, 2012
  • Won dismissal of action based on obscure "stateless citizen" doctrine, 2012

Honors/Awards

  • Recognized by Super Lawyers as one of the "Top 100" attorneys in the New York Metropolitan Area, 2015-2020, 2020
  • Selected for Inclusion in New York Metropolitan Edition of Super Lawyers, 2013-2019, 2019
  • Recognized Practitioner 2017-2019., Chambers USA, 2019
  • Martindale - Hubbell, Client Distinction Award, 2013-2020, 2020
  • Martindale - Hubbell, Client Champion Award, 2017-2019, 2019
  • Panel Judge for ALM's Rising Stars, 2013-2016, 2016
  • Michael Rakower featured in "Lawyer Limelight" column, Lawyer Limelight: Michael Rakower, Lawdragon, 2014
  • Recipient of the New York State Bar Association's 2006 Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award
  • Recognized in 2007 by Lawyers USA as one of eight "up and coming" lawyers in the nation
  • Lifetime Achievement, America's Top 100 Attorneys, 2016
  • Rakower Law PLLC featured in The New Yorker magazine 2014-17, Trial Lawyer Michael Rakower Discusses His Court Victory in Non-Profit Benefits Case, Lawdragon, 2017

Comments

  • “A great lawyer -- it is rare to find someone who can handle all aspects of a case.”
  • “Michael is the one litigator I call for advice when I am faced with a potential commercial dispute. Even in areas where he may have no direct experience, his guidance has consistently been both creative and reliable.”
  • “Michael is an outstanding advocate and brilliant strategist.”
  • “A fine, intelligent and ethical lawyer.”
  • “Michael is an outstanding trial and appellate lawyer, incisive on cross-examination, articulate and persuasive in openings, closings, and in arguing motions and evidentiary rulings. He is a creative thinker who fights tenaciously for his clients at all times.”
  • “Michael is a superb lawyer. He is an exceptional strategist and has become an effective lawyer in the courtroom. His skills were recently shown as he successfully litigated a multi-million dollar claim through trial in the SDNY. Not only were his exceptional skills demonstrated, but his commitment to his clients was peerless.He is truly a SuperLawyer.”

These comments were made by fellow attorneys during the annual nomination process.

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Office Location for Michael C. Rakower

260 Madison Avenue
15th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Phone: 212-660-5550

Fax: 212-660-5551

Last Updated: 5/15/2022

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