The American Lawyer Magazine's Litigation Department of the Year – Labor and Employment Law Finalist 2004, Winner 2006, Finalist 2008, Finalist 2010, and Finalist 2012
Listed in the highest tier for National Labor and Employment Practice in Chambers USA 2012
Ranked in the top tier by The Legal 500 for Labor and Employment Litigation, ERISA Litigation, Labor-Management Relations, and Workplace and Employment Counseling (2012)
Ranked, National Tier 1: Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management, and Litigation – Labor & Employment by U.S. News and Best Lawyers (2011-2012)
Ranked #1 for "Most Prestigious" Labor and Employment Practice, Vault 2012 Associate Survey
Listed in the highest tier for National ERISA Litigation Practice in Chambers USA 2012
Ranked in Tier 1 for ERISA Litigation by The U.S. Legal 500 (2012)
honors + affiliations
Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Faculty Member, Academy of Advocacy
Faculty Lecturer, Temple Law School LL.M. in Trial Advocacy
Listed, The Best Lawyers in America (2006–2011) and Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
Listed, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2006–2012)
Listed, Who's Who Legal (2012–2013) – Labour and Employment
Listed, Human Resource Executive, 100 Most Powerful Employment Attorneys in America (2012)
Noted in The Legal 500 for Labor and Employment—ERISA Litigation (2008)
Noted in The Legal 500 for Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation—ERISA Litigation (2007)
Recipient, 2004 ABA Francis Perkins Award for Pro Bono Service
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
- U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 11th Circuits
Michael L. Banks is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment and Litigation Practices. Mr. Banks has litigated a wide range of employment, benefits, trade secret, commercial, professional liability, intellectual property, and personal injury issues in state and federal courts. He has tried more than 30 cases and has handled several dozen class action and multi-plaintiff cases around the country for some of the firm's largest and most sophisticated clients.
Mr. Banks has taught trial techniques to practicing attorneys pursuing their masters of law degrees in trial advocacy at the Temple University School of Law, and has served on the faculty of the Academy of Advocacy, which conducts trial training programs for attorneys. Active in civic organizations, he is a past president of the Board of Directors of the Support Center for Child Advocates, which provides pro bono advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children, and a past member of the Board of Directors of Need-in-Deed, a service learning organization.
Mr. Banks has been particularly active in pro bono death penalty cases. In 1988, Mr. Banks and Morgan Lewis partner Gordon Cooney began to represent John Thompson, who was wrongly convicted in 1985 of the murder of a New Orleans hotel executive and an unrelated armed carjacking. As a result of the convictions, Mr. Thompson was sentenced to death in the murder case and 50 years in prison in the carjacking case. Over the course of 15 years of post-conviction proceedings, Mr. Banks, Mr. Cooney, and the Morgan Lewis team uncovered concealed blood evidence in the carjacking case, which proved that Mr. Thompson was not the carjacker, as well as witnesses, documents, and critical information that were withheld from the defense in the murder case. Ultimately, after the carjacking conviction was vacated based on the blood evidence, a Louisiana appellate court ordered a new trial in the murder case. In May 2003, Mr. Banks, Mr. Cooney, and New Orleans lawyer Robert Glass retried the murder case. After a closing argument by Mr. Banks, the jury deliberated just 35 minutes before finding Mr. Thompson not guilty of the murder. Mr. Thompson was released from custody after 18 years of imprisonment, and has been totally exonerated of any involvement in those crimes. Mr. Banks and Mr. Cooney later obtained a $14 million jury verdict on behalf of Mr. Thompson in a civil rights claim for the wrongful prosecution. The civil judgment was affirmed by the federal Court of Appeals but reversed by a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court.
After the exoneration of Mr. Thompson, Mr. Banks and Morgan Lewis partners George Cumming and Molly Lane undertook a capital case in Texas for Cathy Henderson, who was convicted in 1995 of first degree murder in the death of an infant. The Morgan Lewis team gathered new forensic and biomechanical evidence from several expert witnesses and a recantation from the Medical Examiner who testified at the original trial. In December 2012, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new trial for Mr. Henderson, who had come within two days of being executed in 2007.
Chambers USA called Mr. Banks an "accomplished, knowledgeable, and sophisticated lawyer who is amazing on his feet in court." He was named "Litigator of the Week" by The American Lawyer in 2009, and he is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and as one of the "Top 100 Lawyers" in Pennsylvania by Super Lawyers. His cases have been featured on the front pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and in numerous other publications and media. In 2004, Mr. Banks was awarded the American Bar Association's Frances Perkins Award for Pro Bono Service.Mr. Banks is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania and the District of Connecticut, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits.
- Columbia University Law School, 1981, J.D.
- Cornell University, 1978, A.B.