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Michael C. Keats

  • Partner | Litigation

New York

T: +1.212.859.8914

Headshot of Michael C. Keats

Michael Keats is a trial lawyer and strategic advisor with over 25 years of experience representing clients in intricate, bet-the-company litigation and enforcement matters. He has successfully guided numerous Fortune 100 companies, financial institutions, private equity firms, investment managers, technology companies, industrial companies, entertainment companies, defense contractors, pharmaceutical companies, real estate firms and energy companies through their most business-critical and franchise-threatening investigations and corporate crises. Michael has a consistent record of success in multi-billion dollar litigations, arbitrations, and federal and state regulatory investigations and enforcement matters, as well as in advising clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions transactions and related litigation. He has successfully led dozens of internal investigations and represented numerous board special committees.

Michael has deep experience in the financial services sec...

Michael Keats is a trial lawyer and strategic advisor with over 25 years of experience representing clients in intricate, bet-the-company litigation and enforcement matters. He has successfully guided numerous Fortune 100 companies, financial institutions, private equity firms, investment managers, technology companies, industrial companies, entertainment companies, defense contractors, pharmaceutical companies, real estate firms and energy companies through their most business-critical and franchise-threatening investigations and corporate crises. Michael has a consistent record of success in multi-billion dollar litigations, arbitrations, and federal and state regulatory investigations and enforcement matters, as well as in advising clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions transactions and related litigation. He has successfully led dozens of internal investigations and represented numerous board special committees.

Michael has deep experience in the financial services sector and has defended some of the world's largest investment banks, issuers and private equity firms in Section 11 and 10b-5 litigation and in significant regulatory investigations by the SEC, the CFTC, the IRS, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the FTC, the FERC, the US Department of Justice and states attorneys general and banking regulators. He has particular expertise in matters involving the trading of fixed income instruments, derivatives and commodities. During the 2008 Financial Crisis, Michael served as a Managing Director in Goldman Sachs' Litigation and Regulatory Proceedings Group, where he handled Goldman's most significant litigation and enforcement matters. He regularly represents the securities industry as amici before the US Supreme Court and other courts on the most important legal issues facing the financial services sector.

In his practice, Michael routinely represents corporations, directors, officers and employees in civil and regulatory matters concerning alleged securities and commodities fraud and market manipulation, corruption (including the FCPA), accounting fraud, money laundering, tax fraud and antitrust violations. He has successfully tried and arbitrated numerous cases, including most recently winning a judgment against a former private equity fund manager who stole more than US$20 million from the fund that he managed. Michael also has served as lead litigation counsel in numerous matters before bankruptcy courts across the country, including contested matters and adversary proceedings. He has handled a wide range of securities and commercial litigation matters for Goldman Sachs, Fiserv/First Data Corp., Deutsche Bank, BMI, Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase, Cargill, Castleton Commodities, ExxonMobil, Blackstone, Onex, GSO, Seritage, Facebook and Cole Haan.

Michael has developed substantial experience representing Fintech companies across the payments space, including defending clients in major FTC and DOJ enforcement actions and in civil litigation. He routinely advises Fintech firms regarding regulatory and compliance issues and has conducted numerous internal investigations and reviews on behalf of commercial banks, payment processors, independent sales organizations (ISOs) and payment facilitators, regarding corporate governance and board oversight, merchant underwriting practices, merchant monitoring, and AML compliance. He represented one of the world's largest payment processors in favorably resolving a landmark FTC enforcement action.

Throughout his career, Michael has been at the forefront of major legal developments in a variety of areas of law, and his matters regularly involve novel legal issues, new technologies and managing corporate crises amid unprecedented market dislocation and regulatory change. Early in his career, he represented songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in the Napster copyright litigation case, which established the contours of copyright law for the Internet Age. He defeated one of the largest antitrust class actions brought against the oil industry in an alleged conspiracy to fix oil industry wages by exchanging employee compensation information. Michael won the first major case that established that bankruptcy trustees and their estates cannot sue investment bankers for allegedly aiding and abetting corporate management in perpetrating a fraudulent scheme. In recent years, he has developed a particular interest in election law, and has defeated multiple efforts by states to require document proof of citizenship as a condition of voter registration, including winning a major regulatory challenge under the Administrative Procedure Act before the DC Circuit against a federal election agency. Most recently, he vindicated the rights of citizens to vote by mail during the COVID pandemic, a case that went from preliminary injunction to the US Supreme Court in just three weeks, and which set the stage for the highest rate of mail-in voter turnout in US history.

Professional associations

  • Board of Trustees, Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York
  • Member, University Club of New York
  • Board Member, Lawyers For Civil Rights

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