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About me

Jonathan Michaels has litigated some of the most important cases in the automotive industry. He is lead counsel on Ponce v. General Motors – a national class action case against GM for the fraudulent concealment of a deadly safety defect in its vehicles for 13 years; and Spitzer Motor City v. U.S. – where he represents numerous terminated Chrysler dealers against the United States for the unlawful “taking” of their franchises in 2009, a violation of the 5th Amendment. He has also litigated cases against nearly every major auto manufacturer in the world, including General Motors, Nissan, Honda, AM General, Isuzu, Toyota, Fisker, Mercedes, Kia, Chrysler, Land Rover and Ford. 

Michaels is also aptly skilled at structuring complex business transactions. In 2013, he was involved in taking Saleen Automotive, Inc. public, and he now serves as the company’s general counsel and on the board of directors. In his tenure, Michaels has structured international distribution agreements, supply-chain agreements, automotive dealer networks, and he has been involved in numerous venture capital money raises. 

Michaels’ efforts have earned him the respect of his peers. He has received the prestigious “Super Lawyers” award every year since 2012, a distinction reserved for no more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state. Michaels is also frequently called upon by the press for relevant comment, and he has authored nearly 50 articles for The Los Angeles Daily Journal – all of which have appeared on the front page of the respected publication.

Michaels maintains close ties to the academic community. In 2012, he was named “Attorney of the Year” by his law school alma mater, and he is frequently asked by some of the nation’s most prestigious Universities to teach classes to both practicing attorneys and law students regarding effective litigation strategies. 

All of this follows a strong scholastic beginning. Michaels graduated from the USC Marshall School of Business in 1992, and then attended Whittier Law School where he graduated in 1995 in the top 4 percent of his class. In law school, Michaels served as the Notes and Comments Editor of Law Review, he competed in several national Moot Court Honors Board competitions, and he published a winning Law Review article that is permanently housed in the U.S. Library of Congress.

Michaels is a member of the California and Colorado State Bars, and is actively involved in the Southern California community. He is the proud father of two sons, Jake and Dean.


Practice areas


  1. Business: 100%


Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

3 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Dyke Earl Huish

    Jonathan has an expectational legal mind and ability to win cases. While he is well known as being the leading attorney for Automotive Law, I have seen Jonathan in other arenas of law doing perfected work. His courtroom skills are beyond compare. Jonathan has a strong and likable courtroom presence and strong legal mind. Not to mention he comes prepared. He knows his case and how to win (something few do) - for me there is no higher compliment.


    Dyke Huish Criminal defense Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

  • Michael D. Terani

    I endorse this lawyer.


    Michael Terani Personal injury Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

MLG Automotive Law, APLC

2801 W. Coast Highway
Suite 370
Newport Beach, CA, 92663


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Super LawyerSuper Lawyers2016
Super LawyerSuper Lawyers2015
Super LawyerSuper Lawyers2014
Super LawyerSuper Lawyers2013
Super LawyerSuper Lawyers2012
Humanitarian AwardOrangewood Children's Foundation2009
Distinguished SpeakerUSC Marshall School of Business2009
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Founding MemberMLG Automotive Law, APLC2007 - Present
PartnerBurkhalter, Michaels, Kessler & George, LLP1997 - 2007
Association namePosition nameDuration
USC Marshall PartnersVice-Chair2010 - Present
Motor Press GuildMember2009 - Present
National Association of Dealer CounselMember2009 - Present
Specialty Equipment Manufacturer AssociationMember2009 - Present
Association of Business Trial LawyersMember2009 - Present
USC Marshall PartnersMember2008 - Present
California New Car Dealers AssociationMember2002 - Present
Orange County Automobile Dealers AssociationMember2002 - Present
Southland Motor Car Dealers AssociationMember2002 - Present
YEOPresident2007 - 2008
YEOMembership Chair2005 - 2006
YEOMember2004 - 2010
Robert A. Banyard Inn of CourtMember2002 - 2007
USC Alumni AssociationDirector2001 - 2004
Orange County Bar AssociationMember1997 - 2007
Los Angeles County Bar AssociationMember1997 - 2007
American Bar AssociationMember1995 - 2002
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
SVP v. Toyota Motor SalesJury Verdict
Tipton Honda v. HondaSettled
Huntington Beach Chrysler Jeep v. AM GeneralSettled
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
Los Angeles Daily JournalWill Oil Become Extinct?2011
Los Angeles Daily JournalHow Many More Have to Die?2011
Los Angeles Daily JournalDo It for the Kids2011
Los Angeles Daily JournalEthanol Still Ablaze2011
Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Dirty Little Secret2010
Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Killing Fields2010
Los Angeles Daily JournalElectric Shock!2010
Los Angeles Daily JournalSomebody Tell Them the Party's Over2010
Los Angeles Daily JournalTesla Business Model: Brilliance or Impending Disaster?2010
San Francisco Daily JournalAuto Dealers Beware: Big Brother is Looming2010
Los Angeles Daily JournalRevving It Up2010
OC MetroJonathan Michaels Named to the Supreme Court Bar2010
15 Whittier L. Review 621Johnson v. Texas: The Supreme Court’s Paradoxical Reconciliation of the Texas Death Penalty and the Constitution2005
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Whittier College School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1995
University of Southern CaliforniaBusiness FinanceBS - Bachelor of Science1992
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Marshall School of BusinessFundamentals of Business Law2010
Harvard-USC Business Growth ConferenceEmerging Trends in the Automotive Industry2010
USC Marshall School of BusinessBusiness Law2009
Marshall School of BusinessFundamentals of Business Law2009