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Michael D. Early


Michael Early is "Of Counsel" with the Klein, Hockel, Iezza & Patel, P.C. ("KHIP") firm.  He is an employment lawyer and commercial litigator with over 25 years of experience representing developers, banks, broker/dealers and others in the financial services industry.  Michael's employment practice is focused on wrongful termination and wage and hour counseling and litigation.  He also provided counseling and litigation expertise to employers and employees on non-competes and in trade secret disputes related to employee hirings/terminations.  Michael's commercial litigation practice is centered on the representation of real estate developers and commercial property owners.  He has represented clients pro hac vice in litigation in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Oregon, Texas and Washington, and has extensive experience in FINRA, JAMS and AAA arbitration proceedings.  Michael joined KHIP, when it was known as Kelly, Hockel & Klein in April 2007.  He was formerly a shareholder in the Litigation Group as Steefel, Levitt & Weiss.  While at Steefel, he chaired the Litigation Group from 1999-2001, and was a member of the firm's Management Committee from 2001-2003.

While attending University of California, Hastings College of Law for his J.D., Michael was a write and Articles Editor for the Hastings Law Journal. 

Email MICHAEL D. EARLY for more further information.


  • Stanford University, B.A., 1980

  • University of California, Hastings College of Law, J.D., 1983, cum laude, The Order of the Coif


  • California State Bar

  • Admitted to practice law in the U.S. Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central District Courts of California

  • Admitted to practice law in the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals


  • Extensive experience providing counsel and litigating wrongful termination cases in federal and state courts as well as in FINRA and JAMS arbitration proceedings, including the representation of Fortune 500 companies in high profile wrongful termination suits

  • Extensive experience in federal and state courts as well as FINRA arbitration litigating non-competition agreements and trade secret disputes related to employee transitions to/from competitors

  • Wage and hour counseling and litigation, including meal and rest break class action litigation

  • Representation of investment bank in three related claims by for former employees for wrongful termination, defamation and breach of contract arising from allocation of IPO stock to hedge fund clients

  • Summary judgment in favor of lender on $100 million lender liability claim in Illinois Federal District Court arising from alleged breach of restructured agricultural loan agreement and simultaneous prosecution of complex foreclosure action in Idaho Federal District Court

  • Successfully negotiated resolution of claims by four major tenants of commercial building owner for breach of contract and fraud arising out of lease renewal negotiations

  • Defense on behalf of developers and retailers of CEQA challenges to commercial and mixed-use construction projects

  • Handled all aspects of mid-sized San Francisco law firm's successful dissolution, including negotiated lease termination, bank forbearance agreement and litigation of claims by former partners for breach of partnership agreement

  • Appellate experience in California Courts of Appeal and in the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals in employment and commercial litigation matters.


  • Employment - O'Connor v. The Clorox Company, 8th Circuit, Docket No.: 00-3856 (July 26, 2001) (rejecting ex-employees' compelled publication defamation claim under Arkansas law) (briefed and argued in district court on appeal)

  • Employment/Securities - Credit Suisse v. Grunwald, 400 F.3d 1119 (9th Circuit, 2005) (compelling plaintiff's wrongful termination, defamation and breach of contract claims to FINRA arbitration and establishing 1934 Exchange Act preemption of California's ethics standards for arbitrators in NASD (FINRA) arbitration) (briefed and argued in district court and on appeal)

  • Real Estate/Land Use - Citizens to Enforce CEQA v. Rohnert Park, 131 Cal.App.4th 1594 (2005).  City's Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Tribe not a "project" under CEQA (briefed and argued in superior court; briefed on appeal)

  • Real Estate/Lender Liability - Acequia, Inc. v. Prudential Insurance Company, 226 F.3d 798 (7th Cir. 2000) Lender's application of land sales to debt not in violation of Bankruptcy Plan or prior settlement agreement (briefed and argued in district court; briefed on appeal)


hobbies and interests

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