Michael Traynor, senior counsel, consults about strategic directions and opportunities for clients and the Cobalt legal practice. Combining a keen interest in new developments with enduring values, he brings a lifetime of experience to our team.
Michael co-chairs the American Bar Association's new Commission on Ethics 20/20, which is addressing challenges to the legal profession presented by advances in technology and globalization. An environmentalist, he is a member of the National Wildlife Federation's President's Advisory Council, a former member of the board of the Environmental Law Institute, a former chair and president of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, now Earthjustice, and a founding director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund of Canada, now Ecojustice.
Also an educator, he is a trustee of the Developmental Studies Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to children's academic, ethical, and social development, and of the Berkeley Community Fund, which provides scholarships for deserving graduates of Berkeley High School. He is a former chair and honorary chair of ALI-ABA, the principal continuing education organization for the legal profession; a former member of the ABA's Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession; and a former board chair and trustee of The Head-Royce School. He has taught Remedies and Conflict of Laws at the law school at U.C. Berkeley; and he has contributed over one hundred articles and comments to law reviews and other professional publications and currently contributes to them.
Michael is President Emeritus and Chair of the Council Emeritus of the American Law Institute and, in 2011, received The Institute's Distinguished Service Award. He is an adviser on its current project on world trade law and served as an adviser on its new Restatement Third of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, he also is a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
In 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit honored him with its John P. Frank Award, which recognizes a lawyer who has "demonstrated outstanding character and integrity; dedication to the rule of law; proficiency as a trial and appellate lawyer; success in promoting collegiality among members of the bench and bar; and a lifetime of service to the federal courts of the Ninth Circuit.
Michael received his B.A. in economics from U.C. Berkeley in 1955, his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1960, and an honorary LL.D. from the University of South Carolina in 2007. Between college and law school, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was President of the Bar Association of San Francisco in 1973. He also was a member of the Board of Overseers of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, RAND's Human Subjects Protection Committee, and the Steering Committee for the Sandra Day O'Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary. He has served as lead counsel in varied cases, including cases presenting new intellectual property and First Amendment issues, and appeared in numerous courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.
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