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Vinson & Elkins LLP

Work +1 415 979 6900
Fax +1 415 651 8786
Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, Houston and 10 more

Michael Charlson

Work +1.415.979.6910
Vinson & Elkins LLP

Work Department



Michael is a partner in Vinson & Elkins’ San Francisco office although he frequently conducts business in Silicon Valley. His practice involves complex business litigation with a primary emphasis on securities class actions, corporate governance (including shareholder derivative) litigation, SEC and other regulatory and exchange proceedings and related counseling. Michael’s securities litigation practice includes the representation of corporations, officers, outside directors, venture investors, auditors, and underwriters in shareholder class actions involving companies in dozens of cases involving a wide range of industry sectors, including biotechnology, computer hardware, computer software, computer networking, telecommunications equipment, biometric identification, semiconductor equipment, medical device, pharmaceutical, real estate, finance, consumer products, marketing, and energy. Michael has also litigated and counseled clients on fiduciary duty and federal securities and disclosure issues relating to proposed merger or acquisition transactions. He has represented major accounting firms and individual audit partners in accounting malpractice and securities lawsuits, and before the SEC. Michael has represented special board committees, nominal defendant corporations, and officer and director defendants in numerous shareholder derivative lawsuits. In addition, he has represented clients in SEC investigations and enforcement proceedings involving allegations of insider trading, improper accounting, inadequate disclosure, inadequate supervision and books-and-records violations. He has authored and presented Wells submissions to the SEC on behalf of 17 different people; none of these individuals was charged. Michael helped lead the team that secured a jury verdict for the defendants (including his client, the former Chief Executive Officer) in In re JDS Uniphase Securities Litigation, one of only a handful of securities class actions that have gone to trial since passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Prior to joining V&E, Michael served as the managing partner of the San Francisco Bay Area offices of an AmLaw 100 law firm. In addition, he was a shareholder at the law firm Heller Ehrman LLP, serving for a time as the managing partner of its Silicon Valley office and as co-chair of the Securities and Corporate Governance Litigation Practice Group.


*Member: American Bar Association, Litigation and Business Law Sections *Member: State Bar of California, Litigation Section *Member: Santa Clara County Bar Association


*University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., 1985 (Order of the Coif; Articles Editor, California Law Review) *Stanford University, M.S., 1981 *Stanford University, B.S., 1981 *Judicial clerk to Honorable William C. Canby, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1985-1986 *Admitted to practice: California, 1985; New York, 2003; District of Columbia, 2002

United States: Dispute resolution

Corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense

Within: Corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense

Vinson & Elkins LLP's team, jointly led by Clifford Thau in New York, Matthew Jacobs in San Francisco and William Lawler in Washington DC, represents corporate and individual clients in government investigations, as well as handling a variety of white-collar criminal defense matters, drawing on a deep bench of former federal prosecutors. Although the team lost Craig Margolis and Tirzah Lollar to Arnold & Porter in 2018, it gained Ron Tenpas from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Jennifer Freel, who joined as counsel from Ewell, Brown, Blanke & Knight LLP.  Alden Atkins in Washington DC, Lawrence Elbaum in New York, and Michael Charlson and Jessica Heim in San Francisco are also recommended.

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Securities litigation - defense

Within: Securities litigation - defense

Vinson & Elkins LLP frequently represents issuers, underwriters, accounting firms, financial institutions, and directors and officers in securities fraud class actions, and it climbs the ranking this year. John Wander, who is co-head of the firm's complex commercial litigation practice, and Michael Holmes in Dallas are the two key partners. Holmes and Austin-based Jennifer Poppe defended EZCORP in a 10b5 class action in New York that alleged false and misleading statements or omissions regarding, inter alia, regulatory compliance issues with Cash Genie, in which the company owns a controlling interest. The claim was settled favorably. Holmes and San Francisco-based Michael Charlson secured a significant victory for Plains All American Pipeline by securing the dismissal of a class action seeking $1.5bn in damages for stock losses allegedly caused by a pipeline leak in California. Clifford Thau in New York is also recommended.

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