Helen Michael concentrates her practice in complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on insurance coverage disputes. During more than 20 years of representing policyholders, Ms. Michael has handled high-stakes cases in a wide variety of coverage areas, including products liability, bodily injury and environmental claims arising from class action and other cases, claims involving violation of consumer protection statutes and other allegedly unfair trade practices, intellectual property claims, construction defect claims, employment practices liability claims, claims against companies and their corporate officers and directors arising out of alleged securities violations and other alleged corporate misconduct, and numerous other errors and omissions liability and directors and officers liability claims. Her work for Fortune 100 and other corporate policyholders has taken place in a variety of settings, including mediation, arbitration, trial and appeal. Ms. Michael also regularly counsels her clients during the policy placement renewal process to help ensure they obtain insurance appropriate for the principal risks presented by their businesses.

Working closely with her clients to determine objectives, formulate effective strategies, and position disputes for the best outcomes, whether through negotiation, or at trial or on appeal, Ms. Michael has a proven track record of success. Through mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, Ms. Michael has collected many millions in insurance assets for her clients. Among trial successes, Ms. Michael has secured among the largest jury verdicts reported in 2001 and 2003. Among successes on appeal, Ms. Michael has obtained a ruling on a question of first impression in 2010 reconfirming the breadth of insurers’ duty to defend class action cases. In total, Ms. Michael has assisted her clients in recovering more than a billion dollars in insurance proceeds.

Ms. Michael also has substantial experience in class action practice and the formulation of effective strategies for defeating mass tort and other consumer claims, including theories governing the piercing of the corporate veil and the imposition of successor liability. She has counseled numerous clients on developing protocols and structuring transactions to guard against incurring vicarious liability for the obligations of corporate affiliates.

Ms. Michael has been recognized as a Washington D.C. "Super Lawyer" in the area of Insurance Coverage in 2017 and the six years immediately preceding, a "Top 50 Women Washington Super Lawyer" and in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and a "Top 100 Washington Super Lawyer" in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Super Lawyers magazine. She is listed in the 2016 and 2017 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of Insurance: Policyholder. The firm’s Washington, DC Insurance Recovery team, including Ms. Michael, has been recognized as a Tier 1 practice in Insurance Recovery in 2011 by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms." She has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Insurance Law in 2018 and each of five years immediately preceding, and was named by Legal Media Group in its 2013 and 2014 Expert Guide to the World's Leading Insurance and Reinsurance Lawyers and additionally in its 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 Expert Guide to the World's Leading Women in Business Law. Ms. Michael is a Member of the American Colleague American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel and is Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.

Ms. Michael served as Co-Leader of the firm’s Insurance Recovery team and has served on the firm’s Executive Committee and Pro Bono Committee.

Professional & Community Activities

Chair, American Bar Association, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of Tort Trial & Insurance Section

Vice-Chair, American Bar Association, Publications Chair and Member of Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of Tort Trial & Insurance Section

Executive Committee Member of Council for Appellate Lawyer

Website Managing Editor, American Bar Association, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of Litigation Section

Past Co-Chair of Employment Practices Insurance Liability Subcommittee of Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of Litigation Section

Trustee, Washington Lawyer’s Committee

Articles Editor, North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation

Member, American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel


  • George Washington University Law School, LL.M. (1989)
    with highest honors
  • University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D. (1986)
    with honors
  • Hampshire College, B.A. (1981)
    with honors

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland


  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Federal Claims Court

Who We Are

Suite 900, 607 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC, 20005-2018
t +1 202.508.5866
f +1 202.585.0037

Helen K. Michael

Experience Highlights

Representation of AirTran Airlines Inc. in dispute with insurer

Obtained favorable settlement for liabilities arising out of the crash of a ValuJet plane in the Florida Everglades.

AirTran Airlines more

Representation of Dana Corporation
Served as trial counsel for Dana Corporation in a series of individual, multiparty and class actions seeking to hold Dana vicariously liable for more
Insurance litigation for Aviva USA Corporation
Represented Aviva USA Corporation and several affiliates (collectively, "Aviva”) in high-stakes litigation against a number of their professional more
Representation of International Paper Company & Masonite Corporation in coverage litigation involving nationwide products liability class action and numerous other cases
Served as trial and appellate counsel for International Paper & Masonite in action against more than 20 insurance companies seeking recovery for more