"We don't take every case that comes in the door. We take cases that will make a difference for consumers."
Michael W. Sobol
"One of the nation's premier plaintiffs' firms."
"Representing the best qualities of the plaintiffs' bar."
The National Law Journal
"Their effective and caring advocacy for clients has earned Lieff Cabraser its first-class reputation."
The Daily Journal
A Fierce Defender of Consumer Rights
A partner in his second decade at Lieff Cabraser, Michael chairs the firm's consumer practice group and is one of the nation's premier consumer protection and class action attorneys.
Consumer Attorney of the Year Finalist 2012
Michael is a finalist for the 2012 Consumer Attorney of the Year Award given by the Consumer Attorneys of California for his work in the Bank of America overdraft fees case. Watch a video profiling Michael and the Bank of America overdraft fees litigation.
In two separate class actions resolved in 2011, Michael spearheaded litigation that together provide over $450 million for nearly 14 million consumers and fundamentally alter business practices in the credit reporting and banking industries for the benefit of consumers nationwide.
In September 2011, the Court approved a $45 million settlement on behalf of 750,000 claimants against the nation's three largest repositories of consumer credit information, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Trans Union, LLC, and Equifax Information Services, LLC.
Plaintiffs charged that defendants violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") by recklessly failing to follow reasonable procedures to ensure the accurate reporting of debts discharged in bankruptcy and of refusing to adequately investigate consumer disputes regarding the status of discharged accounts. The $45 million settlement constitutes the second largest settlement ever in a lawsuit alleging violations of the FCRA.
In November 2011, the Court approved a $410 million settlement, the largest consumer class action settlement in the U.S. in 2011, with Bank of America ("BofA") for alleged fraudulent overdraft fee practices. Michael serves on the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee in the lawsuit against BofA and directly negotiated the settlement with BofA.
Earlier, Michael represented California consumers charging that Wells Fargo Bank manipulated the processing of customer debit card purchases to maximize overdraft fees. As in the BofA case, the complaint charged that instead of posting each transaction chronologically, Wells Fargo deducted the largest charges first, drawing down balances more rapidly and triggering overdraft fees.
In August 2010, the Court ruled in favor of the class and ordered Wells Fargo to pay $203 million in restitution. For his work on the case, Michael was recognized as a Finalist for the Attorney of the Year Award by the Consumer Attorneys of California.
A Wide Range of Consumer Rights Cases
Michael took on major automobile financing companies for allegedly allowing local auto dealers to impose discriminatory interest rate markups against African-American and Hispanic customers. The settlements in these cases included cash and credits for individual class members, and limits on dealers' discretion in granting loans.
Michael also crafted settlements for AT&T Wireless cell phone customers subjected to improper cancellation fees and homeowners charged fees for services never provided by California title insurance companies.
An Advocate for Consumers Outside the Courtroom
Michael participates in numerous conferences on consumer litigation including the National Consumer Law Center's Annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Class Action Symposium.
In 2012, Lieff Cabraser attorneys Michael Sobol, chair of our consumer protection practice group, and Roger Heller were selected as finalists for the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award given by the Consumer Attorneys of California for their work in the Bank of America overdraft fees case.
Awards & Honors
- "Top 100 Attorneys in California," Daily Journal, 2012
- Best Lawyers in America, based on peer and blue ribbon panel review, selected for list of "San Francisco's Best Lawyers," 2013
- "California Litigation Star," Benchmark Plaintiff (ranked as one of California's leading litigators in consumer law), 2012
- "Trial Lawyer of the Year Finalist," Public Justice, 2012
- "Northern California Super Lawyer," Super Lawyers, 2012
- "Consumer Attorney of the Year Finalist," Consumer Attorneys of California, 2011
- "Lawdragon Finalist," Lawdragon, 2009
- Lecturer in Law, Boston University School of Law, 1995-1997
Publications & Presentations
- On Class Actions (2009)
- The Reach of Statutory Damages (2008)
- Proposition 64's Unintended Consequences (2007)
- The Rise of Issue Class Certification (2006)
- The Fall of Class Action Waivers (2005)
- Columnist, On Class Actions, Association of Business Trial Lawyers (2005 to present)
- Panelist, Continuing Education of the Bar (C.E.B.) Seminar on Unfair Business Practices—California's Business and Professions Code Section 17200 and Beyond
- Panelist, National Consumer Law Center's 15th Annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, Class Action Symposium