Michael J. Studenka


Michael Studenka is a partner in the Newport Beach office. His litigation practice concentrates on employment litigation and commercial and residential construction.

Michael’s employment litigation practice centers on defending employers in lawsuits or administrative complaints related to wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, the misappropriation of trade secrets, wage and hour complaints, disputes over commission agreements, and employee embezzlement. He leverages his extensive experience in jury trials, witness depositions and interviews, and investigations to efficiently and successfully defend his clients against such claims. Michael also advises employers on proper employee handbooks and policies, employment contracts, reductions in force, wage and hour issues, and employee terminations.

Michael also frequently conducts in-house training and management seminars for executives, supervisors, managers, and human resources professionals in all aspects of labor and employment law. He frequently advises his clients’ managers on their legal obligations while drawing from the leadership and personnel management skills he learned as a Marine Corps Officer. He regularly conducts California’s required AB 1825 sexual harassment training for clients and is a frequent lecturer before trade groups, professional associations and private companies.

Michael’s construction experience is focused on defending commercial and residential general contractors in all aspects of construction litigation, including delay claims, extra work claims, mechanic’s lien claims, defect litigation, and insurance coverage disputes that arise out of construction litigation. He regularly assists clients in drafting and negotiating their construction prime and subcontractor contracts. He has successfully litigated and arbitrated many construction disputes, resulting in complete awards for his clients including the recovery of all of his own legal fees.

Prior to joining Newmeyer & Dillion, Michael was a Judge Advocate in the United States Marine Corps. In his two tours on active duty, he served as the Senior Prosecutor and Senior Defense Attorney at various locations, including deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In total, he prosecuted and defended over 390 Marines in cases for offenses including premeditated murder, sexual assault, the distribution of narcotics, and larceny. He defended several Marines in high-profile felony cases that received national and international media attention. For his service as a Marine Corps defense attorney, Michael was named the Defense Counsel of the Year Award: 2005-2006.

While serving in the Marine Corps, Michael received three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal.

• Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers list, 2014-2018
• Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Star list, 2013
• USMC, Defense Counsel of the Year Award, 2005-2006

• Co-presenter, "Employment Legislation and Key Case Law Review," 2019 N&D Builder Update seminar
• Co-presenter, “California Worker Classification: Determining Employee or Independent Contractor Status Post-Dynamex Decision,” Center For Competitive Management (C4CM), October 9, 2018
•  Co-Presenter, “2018 Employment Legislation,” 2018 N&D Builder Update seminar
• Presenter, "The Pitfalls of Technology and Social Media in the Workplace: What Employers Should Know," AGC Fall Conference, October 24, 2014

• Quote Source, “Afraid to Mentor Women Because of #MeToo? Time to Man Up,” Law360, March 12, 2019.
• Quote Source, "HR 2025: 7 Critical Strategies to Prepare for the Future of HR," HR Magazine, October 2018.
• Quote Source, "EEOC Sues Employer for Maintaining an English-Only Policy," HR Dive, September 24, 2018.
• Quote Source, "Think Before Asking a Veteran's Discharge Status," HR Magazine, August 28, 2018. 
• Quote Source, "English-Only Workplace Rules: Both Discriminatory and Disengaging?" HR Dive, August 9, 2018.
• Quote Source, "California's New Contractor Test Will Impact the Gig Economy," Biz Journals, May 22, 2018.
• Quote Source, "Summer Dress Codes: 5 Tips for Employers," Law360, May 18, 2018.
• Quote Source, "California Lawmakers Want to Ban Confidential Sexual Harrassment Settlements," HR Magazine, February 14, 2018.
• Quote Source, “Sexual Harassment Training: The Do’s and Don’t’s”, Bloomberg BNA,  February 2018.
• Author, "A Smart Approach to Accommodating Employees with Disabilities," Newmeyer & Dillion, December 6, 2016.
• Co-Author, "Fed OSHA Issues Final Rule Protecting Workers from Crystalline Silica Exposure," Newmeyer & Dillion, March 29, 2016.
• Author, "Ensuring a Silent Night: Reducing the Risks of the Office Holiday Party," Newmeyer & Dillion, March 10, 2015.
• Author, "When Smartphones Are Not Smart For Your Employees: The Risks of Remote Access in Your Workforce," Newmeyer & Dillion, September 2, 2013.

• University of San Diego School of Law, J.D., 1999
• College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, B.A. History (High Honors) and B.A. Government, 1996

• California, 1999
• United States District Court, Central District of California, 1999
• United States District Court, Southern District of California, 1999
• United States District Court, Eastern District of California, 1999

• Orange County Bar Association
• November 10th Association
• San Clemente Sunrise Rotary, Former President (2013-2014)