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In Memoriam: Michael E. Gertzman, November 5, 1963 – April 24, 2024

April 25, 2024

The Paul, Weiss community mourns the loss of our beloved partner, Michael E. Gertzman, who passed away on April 24, 2024, at the age of 60. There are no words to describe the pain we are experiencing after Michael’s tragic and sudden passing.

Michael graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (History, summa cum laude) and the Wharton School of Economics in 1985, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1988, magna cum laude. He began his career at Paul, Weiss as a summer associate in 1987, rejoining as a litigation associate in 1988. In 1992, Michael left the firm to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Michael returned to Paul, Weiss in 1996, and was elected to the partnership in 1998. Michael’s morally centered leadership was instrumental to the firm’s success over many years. He was elected twice as co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, serving from 2014 to 2020, and was a member of the firm’s Management Committee and Compensation Committee.

Michael handled several of the firm’s largest, most sprawling and most complex criminal, regulatory and civil matters, with a particular expertise in matters involving global financial institutions. Michael was known for his fierce devotion to his clients and the firm.

Early in his career, Michael worked with Arthur Liman defending Michael Milken in high-stakes proceedings involving the Department of Justice and the SEC. Over the course of his career, Michael tried more than a dozen civil and criminal cases to verdict in federal and state courts around the country. But his primary focus was always on keeping clients out of court and out of the cross-hairs of law enforcement.

In this regard, Michael was extraordinarily successful, earning the trust of his clients, including financial institutions, public companies, boards and private equity funds. He guided dozens of them through their most sensitive crises, handling matters before the SEC, the Department of Justice,federal and state bank regulators, and other federal and state regulatory bodies.Michael was often called upon to advise on serious matters involving alleged securities fraud, accounting fraud, price-fixing and insider trading.

Michael’s achievements on behalf of his clients were remarkable. He defended former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn against criminal charges in Japan – one of the highest-profile cases in decades. Michael also played a critical role in defending Steven A. Cohen, founder of SAC Capital, in criminal proceedings and litigation related to claims of insider trading, winning a precedent-setting dismissal of the civil RICO claims against him.

Just last year, Michael secured a rare voluntary dismissal with prejudice by the SEC of aiding-and-abetting claims against Ripple Labs co-founder and Executive Chairman Chris Larsen. This complete victory followed an earlier landmark summary judgment win for the cryptocurrency industry on behalf of Ripple Labs, with the court holding that Ripple’s digital token XRP is not a security in a first-of-its-kind decision.

A deeply respected and admired leader in the white-collar bar, Michael was recognized repeatedly for his professional achievements, including by Benchmark Litigation, which named him a New York Litigation Star in the areas of white-collar crime, securities, FCPA and enforcement matters each year for the past ten years. Legal 500 recognized Michael for white-collar criminal defense and general commercial disputes, and Chambers Global recognized him as preeminent in disputes.

In every way, Michael reflected the highest values of our firm, where he was beloved as a mentor, role model, partner and friend who treated everyone in our community with thoughtfulness, kindness and respect. With his intense focus on always doing the right and just thing, Michael was universally respected by all who worked with him. We are grateful for everything we learned from Michael as a leader, partner and friend. He will be deeply missed by his clients, his colleagues and all who knew him.

Michael was deeply devoted to his family, and was incredibly proud of them. He leaves behind his wife, Rabbi Carole B. Balin; their children, Nathaniel, Eve and Joseph; his sister, Dr. Sharon Gertzman; and his brother, Dr. Jerrold Gertzman.Michael was a longtime and active member of the B’nai Jeshurun synagogue and was an extremely generous supporter of many charitable and community organizations.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Michael’s family and to our community.

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