Michael J. Pérez is a trial lawyer who has amassed more than 70 civil and criminal jury trials without a loss. His practice focuses primarily on complex business litigation and class action litigation in the areas of Section 17200 claims, intellectual property and employment law. He has also successfully defended financial institutions in class litigation. As lead counsel, Mr. Pérez has successfully tried to verdict jury trials in the areas of trademark infringement, real estate investment loan class actions, employment-related matters, and Section 1983 actions on behalf of several municipalities.
Prior to establishing Pérez & Wilson in March of 2005, Mr. Pérez was a partner in the business litigation practice group of San Diego’s oldest and largest law firm. Mr. Pérez began his legal career at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, where he spent five years specializing in intellectual property litigation. In Washington, D.C., Mr. Pérez served as former Counsel to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and then U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Prior to working in Washington, D.C., Mr. Pérez served as General Counsel to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for three years. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California where he conducted numerous grand jury investigations and indictments, international financial investigations, and public corruption and drug trafficking trials and appeals.
While primarily engaged in defense work, Mr. Pérez has also served as a plaintiff’s attorney on a number of occasions, all beginning as matters for his business clients and all resulting in multi-million dollar verdicts for those business clients. In 2007, Mr. Pérez obtained a $188,000,000 jury verdict for his client in what is believed to be the largest defamation verdict in history. In that case, a Brooklyn jury in the Eastern District of New York awarded Mexican businessman Jose Ramiro Garza Cantu of Mexico City $188,000,000 to compensate Mr. Garza Cantu for damages he suffered as a result of defamatory statements made about him by a Texas businessman. In 2014, Mr. Pérez obtained a jury verdict in excess of one billion dollars against the Petroleum Workers Union of the Republic of Mexico (an affiliate of PEMEX). The case involved a residual oil contract and successfully halted thirty years of contentious litigation. Again, this complex and ferocious litigation began as a business matter for an international oil company.
As a native San Diegan and active member of the community, Mr. Pérez serves on numerous nonprofit boards, including the 29:11 Maternity House, MLK, Jr. All People’s Breakfast Committee, the UCSD Hispanic Scholarship Council, and Volunteers in Parole, Inc. He is also a Master in the William B. Enright Inn of Court. In 2001, Mr. Pérez was appointed by the Mayor of San Diego to serve as a Commissioner on the City’s Human Relations Committee. Mr. Pérez has been listed on San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch”, and in 2004 he was listed in San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s “40 Under Forty” notable San Diegans. In 2008, Mr. Pérez was named Attorney of the Year by the San Diego La Raza Lawyer’s Association.
Mr. Pérez also is involved in humanitarian relief efforts around the world. He has made numerous trips to Haiti, including efforts in Port-au-Prince, Carrefour and Gressier, Haiti. He has also served in areas closer to home in both Tecate, Mexico and Tijuana, Mexico. Finally, Mr. Pérez supports efforts in other parts of the world including a Youth Center in Apopa, El Salvador.
Mr. Pérez is a former member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees, and past President of the California La Raza Lawyers Association.
He is fluent in Spanish.
- Judicial Extern, Honorable Howard B. Wiener, California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One
- Mr. Pérez provides expert commentary for NBC
- San Diego’s Top Lawyers (Numerous Consecutive Years)
- AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5.0 Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell®.
- Attorney of the Year, San Diego LRLA
- Forbes Magazine for 2014 Verdict against the Petroleum Workers Union of the Republic of Mexico
- California Daily Journal for 2007 Defamation Verdict
- “40 under Forty,” San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, 2004
- “50 People to Watch,” San Diego Magazine, 2002
- All People’s Breakfast Chair honoring Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2006)
Civic and Professional Activities
- Twenty-Nine: Eleven Maternity House (Founder)
- William B. Enright Inn of Court (Master)
- PLI Law Institute (Faculty Member)
- San Diego Human Relations Committee (Former Commissioner)
- MLK, Jr. All People’s Breakfast Committee (Former Chair)
- Volunteers in Parole, Inc. (Former Volunteer)
- California La Raza Lawyers Association (Past President)
- San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (Past President)
- UCSD Hispanic Scholarship Council (Former Chair, Supporter)
- YMCA of San Diego (Supporter)
- Red Cross of San Diego (Supporter)
- San Diego Bar Association Ethnic Minority Relations Committee (Past Member)
- Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (Past Member, Supporter)
- Lawyers Club of San Diego (Past Member, Supporter)
- International Law Advisory: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, June 2002
- J.D., UCLA School of Law, 1990
- B.S., Biology and Psychology, Stanford University, 1987 (Dual Honors)