Michael J. Bentley


Michael Bentley is a partner in the Jackson, Mississippi office, where he concentrates his practice on appeals and litigation, with an emphasis on constitutional law, zoning and land-use litigation, and complex commercial disputes. He has been recognized by Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America®, and Benchmark Litigation as one of Mississippi’s leading litigators and appellate practitioners. Prior to joining the firm, Michael clerked for Judge Leslie H. Southwick at the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Michael is a Fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an invitation-only association of distinguished appellate litigators. He regularly serves as lead appellate counsel in high-stakes litigation, from trial — where he assists in developing legal strategy, handles critical motions, and advises on error-preservation — through appeal. Michael has argued numerous high-profile appeals in the Mississippi Supreme Court, including Priceline.com LLC v. Fitch, a challenge to Mississippi’s taxation of online travel companies; Reeves v. Gunn, a constitutional challenge to the governor of Mississippi’s line-item veto power; and American Tower v. Marshall County, Miss., establishing the proper procedure for appealing a county’s adverse zoning. In federal court, he recently argued Pinkston v. Kuiper, a first-impression constitutional challenge to the involuntary medication of an inmate, and Express Oil Change, LLC v. Mississippi, which struck down a state ban on the use of a trade name and service mark as an unconstitutional restriction on commercial speech.

His litigation experience ranges from class actions and commercial disputes to tax protests, premises liability cases, zoning contests, Section 1983 civil rights suits and constitutional claims. Michael has extensive experience in healthcare litigation, including defense of private correctional healthcare providers operating in state prison systems and representing payors in contract and claim disputes. He served as lead counsel on medical and mental healthcare claims in Dockery v. Hall, a six-week, federal class action trial that resulted in a defense judgment for his client. He has also represented healthcare providers in regulatory investigations, administrative proceedings, and litigation.

In addition to his law practice, Michael is active in bar associations and community organizations. He is a founding member and past chair of the Mississippi Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Fifth Circuit Bar Association. Michael has also served on the boards of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Association of Partners in Education, and the Millsaps College Arts & Lecture Series. He has been recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as a “Leader in Law” (2020) and one of Mississippi’s “Top 40 Under 40” business leaders (2014).

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. He also graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Millsaps College. Before law school, Michael was an aid to Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, where he was responsible for constituent communications and legislative affairs, as well as acting as the governor’s liaison to county and municipal governments.