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Michael D. McKay

Michael McKay is a partner in the firm’s Seattle office. With his experience as a former United States Attorney, Michael focuses his practice on white collar criminal defense, commercial litigation, and internal investigations, both corporate and government.

As U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, Michael supervised many prominent lawsuits filed by and against the United States. He made the charging decision in the first flag burning case in America, an action granted direct review by the United States Supreme Court. He reorganized the office to more efficiently handle specific cases including fraud, environmental crime, and drugs, mainstays of that office today.

Michael has significant experience assisting clients facing legal problems with federal and local governments, including civil, criminal and administrative matters. He represents corporations and executives, as well as physicians and dentists, facing governmental investigations. In addition, he has represented a variety of clients in complex commercial litigation.

Private companies and municipal corporations have hired Michael to conduct internal investigations. On rare occasions, the investigation results are made public:

  • In 2008, the Port of Seattle hired Mr. McKay to serve as counsel for the Special Investigative Committee, which conducted an internal investigation into Port contracting practices. Mike’s team found evidence of civil fraud and other instances where state laws and Port policies were violated, which were documented in the Report of the Special Investigative Team, issued on December 3, 2008. The Report provided a set of recommendations that the Port CEO implemented to improve the Port's compliance practices and deter fraud.
  • In 1999, the City of Seattle asked Mr. McKay to investigate police policies and procedures in the wake of allegations that a detective stole money from a homicide victim. Mr. McKay served as Vice Chair of a four-member Citizens Review Panel which, after a thorough investigation, made over twenty recommendations to improve the Seattle Police Department’s procedures and oversight. In 2008, Mr. McKay served on the Seattle Police Accountability Review Panel, which reviewed the 1999 model and made 29 recommendations, all of which were accepted by the mayor.

Michael was a founding member of a prominent boutique law firm in Seattle, where he served as its managing partner until he closed that office to join K&L Gates.

Michael began his career in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where he served for five years and became a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, handling cases in the criminal, juvenile, fraud, and civil divisions. He represented the Kingdome in the first major litigation with the Seattle Mariners and was lead prosecutor in the investigation and prosecution of a juvenile prostitution ring. He also played a principal role in the implementation of the innovative Washington State Juvenile Justice Act.

  • Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® Peer review as AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5*
  • Selected to Washington Super Lawyers list
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® in Commercial Litigation, Municipal Law, and Criminal Defense: White Collar
  • Listed in America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators®
  • Listed in America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Litigators®
  • Charles A. Goldmark Award for Distinguished Service (along with John McKay, awarded by the Legal Foundation of Washington), 2008
  • Alumni Merit Award, Creighton University School of Law, 2001
  • Who’s Who Legal: Investigations
  • United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, 1989-1993
  • Board of Directors, Legal Services Corporation, 2003-2009
    •  Vice Chair, 2008-2009
  • President, National Association of Former United States Attorneys (NAFUSA), 2009
  • President, NAFUSA Foundation, 2013-2019
  • U.S. Attorney General's Advisory Committee, 1990-199
    • Vice Chair, 1991-1993
  • Vice-Chair, Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, 1999-2001
  • Co-Chaired numerous committees charged with assessing applicants for federal judge, Western District of Washington, 1997-present
  • Vice Chair, Review Board (advised the Archbishop of Seattle on clergy molestation allegations), 2002-2004
  • President, Creighton University National Alumni Association, 1989-1991
  • Chaired numerous political campaigns at the county, state and federal levels
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