Michael Bentley is a partner in the Jackson, Mississippi office, where he concentrates his practice on appellate and commercial litigation. In addition to his responsibilities at the firm, Michael was elected Chair of the Mississippi Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section (2013-2014) and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Bar Association of the Federal Fifth Circuit. Prior to joining the firm, Michael clerked for Judge Leslie H. Southwick at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In his appellate practice, Michael advises clients on trial and appeal strategy, drafts and argues critical trial motions, and handles all aspects of an appeal – from briefing through oral argument. He has litigated appeals of all varieties in state and federal court and has served as appellate counsel at trial for significant litigation matters. Michael has represented a diverse group of clients in appeals, ranging from an appeal of a jury verdict in a multimillion dollar oil-and-gas dispute, to the interlocutory appeal of a maritime seizure order, to the preparation of an amicus brief supporting a corporation’s constitutionally protected property rights, and a challenge to Mississippi’s lethal injection protocol. Recently, Michael was the lead brief-writer in an appeal from a $100 million legal malpractice verdict, helping secure a reversal for his client.
His commercial litigation experience ranges from contract and commercial lease disputes to housing-discrimination claims, whistleblower suits, tort claims, and tax protests. Last year, Michael took lead responsibility for coordinating a client’s trial strategy in a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit. He also advises clients on insurance coverage issues, a critical and sometimes undervalued component of business litigation.
From 2000 to 2004, Michael served in state government, first as an aid to Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove and later as office manager for the State Superintendent of Education. As a member of the Governor’s staff, Michael was responsible for constituent communications and legislative affairs; he was also the Governor’s liaison to county and municipal governments.
In addition to his law practice, Michael remains active in his community and local bar organizations, having served as the President of the Jackson Young Lawyers Association, a director for the Mississippi Young Lawyers Division, and a volunteer pro bono attorney for clients referred by the Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2011, he was named “Young Lawyer of the Year” by his alma mater, Mississippi College School of Law, for his contributions to the legal community. In 2014, he was recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of Mississippi’s “Top 40 Under 40” business leaders.
Michael graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi College School of Law, where he served as Articles Editor for the Mississippi College Law Review and was a member of the Moot Court Board. Before law school, Michael graduated magna cum laude from Millsaps College. At Millsaps, he was a writer and editor for the college newspaper, The Purple & White, and the recipient of the Reid and Cynthia Bingham Award for Excellence in Political Science