Michael Leigh

Phone: 502-434-4243

Email: [email protected]

Michael Leigh

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.

Michael 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.

Michael 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.

In addition, Michael 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, specifically disputes involving financial products and transactions.

Prior to joining the firm, Michael was an associate and partner at the large regional law firm Stites & Harbison PLLC (2015-2018), an attorney (2010-2014) at the international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP in New York, and 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.

Areas of Practice

  • Appellate & Constitutional Law
  • Complex Commercial & Business Litigation
  • Arbitration & Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Securities & Wealth Management Litigation & Arbitration
  • Government Relations and Investigations


  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Tennessee
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee


  • New York Law School, New York, New York
    • J.D. magna cum laude - 2010
  • University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
    • B.S. - 2007
    • Major: Political Science

Representative Matters

  • 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).

Articles and Published Works

  • "New York Attorney General Sues Domino’s Pizza, Inc. for Joint Liability as a Franchisor for Alleged Wage Theft by Franchisees and Fraudulent Franchise Disclosure Documents," (2016) (co-authored)
  • "Kentucky Legislature Adds Clarity to Derivative Litigation Against Limited Liability Companies," (2016)
  • "Kentucky Law Allows Business Corporations to Choose Where They Are Sued in Derivative Litigation or Litigation to Compel Production of Company Records," (2016)
  • "Supreme Court Applies "Reasonable" Basis Standard in Clarifying Liability for Statements of Opinion in Omnicare’s SEC Registration Statement," (2015) (co-authored with Clark C. Johnson)
  • "U.S. Appellate Court Defines Government ‘Instrumentality’ Under the FCPA," FCPA Update, Vol. 5 No. 10 (May 2014) (co-authored)
  • "Russia’s Anti-Corruption Efforts: The Latest Legislation," Law360 (July 18, 2012) (co-authored)
  • "Russia’s Turn Toward Anti-Corruption Enforcement?," Law360 (Apr. 6, 2012) (co-authored)
  • "Anti-Corruption Practices Survey Highlights Challenges Facing Companies," Business Crimes Bulletin (Jan. 2012) (co-authored)

Honors and Awards

  • Kentucky Super Lawyers - Rising Star (2018-Present)
  • Eagle Scout

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Kentucky Bar Association
  • Louisville Bar Association
  • Louisville Committee of Foreign Relations
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Tennessee Bar Association

Community Activities

  • Lakeside Corporation, Board Member (2016-Present), President (2017-Present)
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the River Region, Board of Directors (2016-2018)