In more than five decades of practicing law, Michael Hennigan has cemented his reputation as one of the legal industry’s most decorated trial lawyers. Today, McKool Smith is announcing Hennigan’s retirement from the firm and practice of law.
Distinguished by his signature bowtie, a tribute to his late University of Arizona Law Dean Charles Ares, and equipped with elite trial abilities and persuasion skills, Hennigan has handled more than 45 major jury trials in state and federal court and served as lead counsel in litigating judgments and settlements amounting to more than $8 billion for clients across a broad range of disputes. As Ron Olson, a founding partner of Munger, Tolles & Olson, so aptly said: “As an opponent, Mike was, as I have said to others, formidable, possessing a courtroom presence that was as smooth as warm butter – but not so greasy – and was able to present arguments with sharp intellect and high integrity. As a friend, Mike was an A+ for decades.” Hennigan’s prowess in the courtroom earned his inclusion as a Fellow of the American College of trial lawyers, which is widely considered one of the most selective and prestigious legal associations in the US and Canada.
Hennigan graduated with academic distinction from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1970. While in law school, he served as Note and Comment Editor of the Arizona Law Review and earned recognition from the faculty as the Ralph Aigler Outstanding Student of the Class of 1970 and the Prentiss Hall Tax Award. He also received the Charles L. Strauss Award for Outstanding Student Contribution to the Arizona Law Review.
After graduating, Hennigan worked as a trial attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He was a founding partner of Hennigan, Mercer & Bennett in California and later a founding principal of McKool Smith Hennigan following McKool Smith’s expansion into California in 2011.
Hennigan has been recognized as one of the nation’s top trial lawyers by all the major legal publications and rankings, including Lawdragon, Benchmark Litigation, Chambers Global, and Chambers USA, who has described him as "the complete package" and a "classic trial lawyer." He has also been named the Los Angeles “Lawyer of the Year” on four occasions by Best Lawyers. In 2017, Hennigan was awarded the University of Arizona College of Law “Lifetime Achievement Award” and received the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s highest honor—the Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award the following year.
Hennigan has been a member of the American Law Institute since 1993 and a member of the University of Arizona Board of Visitors. He has served in leadership positions in numerous state and national professional organizations, including the Judicial Council Task Force on Complex Civil Litigation, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
With 130 trial lawyers across offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Marshall, New York, and Washington, D.C., McKool Smith has established a reputation as one of America's leading trial firms. The firm has secured 14 nine-figure jury verdicts and 15 eight-figure jury verdicts, obtaining more VerdictSearch and The National Law Journal "Top 100 Verdicts" than any other law firm. These courtroom successes have earned McKool Smith critical acclaim and helped the firm become what The Wall Street Journal describes as "one of the biggest law firm success stories of the past decade." McKool Smith represents clients in complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, bankruptcy, insurance recovery, and white collar defense matters.