Michael Studenka is a partner in the Newport Beach office and leads the firm's labor and employment practice group. His litigation practice concentrates on employment litigation and commercial and residential construction.
Michael’s employment litigation practice centers on defending employers in lawsuits or administrative complaints related to wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, the misappropriation of trade secrets, wage and hour complaints, disputes over commission agreements, and employee embezzlement. He leverages his extensive experience in jury trials, witness depositions and interviews, and investigations to efficiently and successfully defend his clients against such claims. Michael also advises employers on proper employee handbooks and policies, employment contracts, reductions in force, wage and hour issues, and employee terminations.
Michael also frequently conducts in-house training and management seminars for executives, supervisors, managers, and human resources professionals in all aspects of labor and employment law. He frequently advises his clients’ managers on their legal obligations while drawing from the leadership and personnel management skills he learned as a Marine Corps Officer. He regularly conducts California’s required AB 1825 sexual harassment training for clients and is a frequent lecturer before trade groups, professional associations and private companies.
Michael’s construction experience is focused on defending commercial and residential general contractors in all aspects of construction litigation, including delay claims, extra work claims, mechanic’s lien claims, defect litigation, and insurance coverage disputes that arise out of construction litigation. He regularly assists clients in drafting and negotiating their construction prime and subcontractor contracts. He has successfully litigated and arbitrated many construction disputes, resulting in complete awards for his clients including the recovery of all of his own legal fees.
Prior to joining Newmeyer & Dillion, Michael was a Judge Advocate in the United States Marine Corps. In his two tours on active duty, he served as the Senior Prosecutor and Senior Defense Attorney at various locations, including deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In total, he prosecuted and defended over 390 Marines in cases for offenses including premeditated murder, sexual assault, the distribution of narcotics, and larceny. He defended several Marines in high-profile felony cases that received national and international media attention. For his service as a Marine Corps defense attorney, Michael was named the Defense Counsel of the Year Award: 2005-2006.
While serving in the Marine Corps, Michael received three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal.
Awards & Recognition
- Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers list, 2014-2018
- Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star list, 2013
- USMC, Defense Counsel of the Year Award, 2005-2006
- Orange County Bar Association
- November 10th Association
- San Clemente Sunrise Rotary, Former President (2013-2014)
- California, 1999
- U.S. District Court, Central District of California, 1999
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 1999
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 1999
- University of San Diego School of Law (J.D., 1999)
- College of William & Mary (B.A., 1996)
- History (High Honors)