Michael J. Olecki

    • Hobbies: Michael is a woodturner and woodworker, a collector (and drinker) of wine, and an aspiring mixologist who creates his own cocktail ingredients.
    • Five Favorite TV Series: Mash, Dr. Who (Tom Baker rules!), Monk, Star Trek: the Next Generation, and Seinfeld.
    • Five Favorite Movies: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and My Cousin Vinny.

Michael J. Olecki


Daily Journal Obituary – LA litigator argued civil rights case that set a $18M record

Michael Olecki's practice focused on business litigation, with a particular emphasis on unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, "business divorces," breach of contract, and fraud.  He also taught California unfair competition law to California Superior Court Judges, and spoke on litigation techniques at Association of Business Trial Lawyers seminars. 

When he wasn’t practicing law, Michael was happiest at his ranch in the Sierra foothills.  Chopping wood, riding the fence lines, and hiking the ranch and local trails kept him busy between legal sessions.  Michael brought to the practice of law a passion for the intellectual challenges, and a rare generosity of spirit that inspired both colleagues and opposing counsel.  He was his own jurisprudential ecosystem, and we miss him.

Michael received his law degree from the University of Virginia (J.D. 1986) (Notes Editor, U. Va. L. Rev.; Order of the Coif) and his undergraduate degree from Haverford College (B.A. 1981).  He clerked for the Hon. Edward N. Cahn, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


  • University of Virginia, J.D., 1986
  • Haverford College, B.A., 1981


  • Recognized as a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) in 2007
  • AV Preeminent Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • “Super Lawyer” many years running
  • Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, Western Law Center for the Handicapped (now Disability Rights Legal Center)
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Edward N. Cahn (E.D. Pa 1986-87)
  • Order of the Coif
  • University of Virginia Law Review, Editor


Business Litigation

  • Won a more than $5 million arbitration award, including attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, against a family business that had ejected its president and former majority shareholder. In awarding a 150% multiplier on attorneys’ fees, the retired judge/arbitrator referenced the performance of other trial attorneys he had seen over the past 30 years, and stated that Michael and his firm “score very highly on all the relevant elements of fee consideration.”
  • Defeated plaintiff’s claims for millions of dollars in damages and punitive damages against thoroughbred horse syndication client through aggressive argument and motion practice. Following the court’s ruling in favor of our client and holding that they were entitled to recoup their attorneys’ fees, the case immediately settled, with no payment by the client.
  • Secured an arbitration award of more than $12 million in a fraud and breach of fiduciary duty claim by investors in a real estate development against a former partner. The award was confirmed by the Superior Court and later upheld on appeal. Also thwarted the defendant’s attempt to avoid the award through bankruptcy.
  • Persuaded the City Council to honor the City of Torrance’s prior agreement to renew a radio transmitter lease, which allowed two sales of the lease, made in reliance on the agreement, to close. The Client stood to lose $168 million had the lease not been renewed.
  • Overcame a freight forwarder and customs broker’s claim for collection on disputed invoices and in a cross-claim, recovered more than $1.7 million for lost sales and converted inventory.
  • Won a directed verdict on the first day of trial, defeating plaintiff’s claim that it was entitled to millions of dollars in damages, as well as a 10% commission on all sales the defendants made.
  • Obtained a $1.57 million arbitration award, including attorney’s fees, for a physician practice management group against a physician who sought to rescind his contract to provide services through said group while retaining money paid to him under the contract. Also defeated plaintiff’s claim for an additional $1.2 million for alleged contractual breaches.

Intellectual Property

  • Prevailed in arbitration to defeat claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition and up to $7 million in damages while also recovering damages and punitive damages on cross-claims of conversion and intentional interference with business advantage. In his decision, the arbitrator referenced Michael’s unprecedented “devastating barrage of impeachment via cross-examination.”
  • Obtained summary judgment, a permanent injunction, and attorneys’ fees award in federal court case against a former independent contractor who took company documents and refused to return them.

Real Estate Litigation

  • Obtained “walk away” settlement from plaintiff who tried to cudgel a non-consensual easement over commercial property; to achieve this result, Michael and his team cross-claimed against the plaintiff’s tenants for trespass and nuisance, thereby altering the stakes in the case.

Employment Law

  • Achieved terminating sanctions through aggressive discovery and motion practice, defeating a former sales executive’s $10 million claim, as well as recovering substantial attorney’s fees for a large title insurance company.
  • Defeated a former employee’s claims for partial ownership of the company, for failure to pay wages, and for breach of an alleged contract to pay his $80,000+ business school tuition at USC. In a jury trial, also proved client’s cross-claim for malicious prosecution. Client was awarded $258,000 in damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.

Entertainment Law

  • Disproved multi-million dollar breach of fiduciary duties and partnership agreement claims against client and obtained an arbitration award of $700,000 in damages and costs against the cross-defendants.

Civil Rights

  • Along with two colleagues, won a record-setting $18 million verdict against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for violation of civil rights. The case settled immediately after the verdict and before the punitive damages phase of the case.

Published Cases

  • Ramirez v. County of Los Angeles, 397 F.Supp.2d 1208 (C.D.Cal.2005)
  • Ramirez v. County of Los Angeles, 231 F.R.D. 407 (C.D.Cal.2005)
  • McMahon v. Superior Court, 106 Cal. App. 4th 112 (2003)
  • Marketing West, Inc. v. Sanyo Fischer (USA) Corp., 6 Cal. App. 4th 603 (1992)


  • Co-Author: The Continuing Education of the Bar Treatise in Competitive Business Practices, Trademark Infringement Chapter
  • Author: Life-Altering Litigation While Practicing Outside Your Field, UVA Lawyer, Fall 2007