Michael Avenatti (born February 16, 1971) in Sacramento, California is an attorney and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, California. He routinely appears on broadcast and print media as a commentator on a range of legal issues and has represented parties in a number of lawsuits that have gained international media attention, including cases brought against Donald Trump, the National Football League, various celebrity defendants, high-ranking business executives and Fortune 100 companies. He is also a professional race car driver, having participated in races across the United States and Europe.
Avenatti graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a major in Political Science in 1996. He subsequently attended law school at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. where he worked with Professor Jonathan Turley on constitutional issues relating to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He later graduated Order of the Coif, first in his class.
In 2003, George Washington University Law School established the Michael J. Avenatti Award for Excellence in Pre-Trial and Trial Advocacy, an annual award given to the member of the graduating Juris Doctor class who demonstrates excellence in pre-trial and trial advocacy. Avenatti also received George Washington University’s prestigious Alumni Recognition Award in 2010.
While in college and later in law school, Avenatti worked at a political opposition and media firm, The Research Group, run by Rahm Emanuel (who later became White House Chief of Staff and is presently the Mayor of Chicago). Avenatti worked on over 150 campaigns in 42 states, including multiple gubernatorial and congressional campaigns including Joe Biden’s U.S. Senate Campaign.
After law school, Avenatti worked at O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, California, alongside Daniel M. Petrocelli, who previously represented the Ron Goldman family in its case against O.J. Simpson. He assisted Petrocelli on multiple legal matters, including the representation of singer Christina Aguilera and litigation surrounding the movie K-19: The Widowmaker, and worked extensively for Don Henley and Glen Frey of the musical group The Eagles, including in a well-publicized suit brought by former bandmate Don Felder against the group and Irving Azoff.
Avenatti later joined Greene Broillet & Wheeler, a Los Angeles boutique litigation firm. While there, he handled a number of high-profile cases, including a $10-Million defamation case against Paris Hilton, a successful idea-theft lawsuit relating to the show The Apprentice and against producers Mark Burnett & Donald Trump, and a $40 million embezzlement lawsuit involving KPMG.
In 2007, Avenatti formed the law firm Eagan Avenatti, LLP (formerly known as Eagan O’Malley & Avenatti, LLP) with offices in Newport Beach, California, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. He has since appeared on 60 Minutes three times in connection with cases he has handled. Avenatti has also served as lead counsel on a number of historically-large cases, including an April 2017 $454 Million verdict after a jury trial in Federal Court in Los Angeles in a fraud case against Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health, a $80.5 Million class-action settlement against Service Corporation International, a $41 million jury verdict against KPMG, and a $39 Million malicious prosecution settlement. In 2015, Avenatti prevailed against the National Football League following a two-week jury trial in Federal District Court in Dallas, Texas after cross-examining Jerry Jones at trial.
Since 2010, Avenatti has raced as a driver in approximately 33 professional sports car races, including various American Le Mans Series, FIA World Endurance Championship, Porsche Supercup and United Sports Car Championship races in the United States and in Europe. These races have included the 24 Hours of LeMans, 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Long Beach Grand Prix. In 2015, Michael teamed at the 24 Hours of LeMans with Saudi Prince Abdulaziz Turki Al Faisal and Jakub Giermaziak of Poland in the No. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia, where the team placed 7th.