Michael D. Birnbaum

Michael D. Birnbaum


Binghamton University (B.A., 1996)
New York University School of Law (J.D., 1999)

Bar Admissions

New York

Michael Birnbaum, former Senior Trial Counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has extensive experience investigating and litigating matters arising under the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, the Investment Advisers Act, and the Investment Company Act, including those involving accounting and offering frauds, insider trading, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, custody and consumer protection rules, and data breach rules. Throughout his tenure at the SEC, he also worked closely with SEC investigative units, including the Asset Management Unit, the Market Abuse Unit, and the Complex Financial Instruments Unit, as well as with attorneys at various U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and foreign securities regulators.

Mr. Birnbaum regularly counsels domestic and foreign financial institutions, including commercial and investment banks, audit and accounting firms, investment advisers, broker-dealers, and securities issuers in internal and government investigations, regulatory enforcement proceedings, and white-collar criminal defense matters.

Before joining Morrison & Foerster, Mr. Birnbaum spent 11 years at the SEC overseeing securities litigation before federal and administrative courts, and advising SEC staff regarding investigations into potential securities violations.

A seasoned trial attorney, Mr. Birnbaum has obtained significant results—including at trial—against hedge funds and other investment funds for fraudulent securities offerings and registration violations, as well as supervisory failures related to the sale of securities.

Mr. Birnbaum’s notable matters include:

  • RD Legal Capital, LLC, et al., SEC File No. 3-17342 (2016): Led litigation effort—including five-week trial—and advised investigative team in fraud case against a hedge fund charged with misrepresenting the nature and value of litigation funding investments (decision pending).
  • Reliance Financial Advisors, LLC, et al., SEC File No. 3-16311 (2015): Won bench trial as first chair against investment adviser for fraudulent securities offerings.
  • Donald Anthony, et al. (2014): Won bench trial against brokers at McGinn, Smith & Co., Inc. for fraud, registration violations, and supervisory failures relating to the sale of $100+ million in McGinn securities.
  • SEC v. Reserve Mgmt. Company, Inc., 09 Civ. 4346 (PGG) (2012): Obtained verdicts against investment adviser and broker dealer after three-week jury trial; in earlier phases of litigation, obtained unprecedented relief in first contested action brought by the Commission under Section 25(c) of the Investment Company Act.
  • SEC v. Empire Development Group, LLC, 07 Civ. 3896 (PKC) & SEC v. Clean Care Technologies, Inc., 08 Civ. 01719 (HB) (2008): In cases involving fraudulent securities offerings, awarded judgment with all requested relief in both cases.
  • SEC v. Finazzo, 543 F. Supp. 2d 224 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 27, 2008): Investigated kickback scheme and litigated successful subpoena enforcement action (affirmed on appeal) leading to criminal conviction.

Before joining the SEC, Mr. Birnbaum was an associate at two AmLaw 100 firms advising on commercial litigation and regulatory investigations. He earned his J.D. from the New York University, where he served as the editor for the Annual Survey of America Law, and his B.A. cum laude from Binghamton University.

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