Michael D. Pinnisi

Mr. Pinnisi provides General Counsel and dispute resolution services for sophisticated corporate clients across the country.


Most frequently he is engaged to conduct high-stakes litigation with very diverse commercial or scientific subject matter, typically in federal courts in major cities. He often acts as "turnaround" counsel, undertaking cases after other lawyers failed to achieve satisfactory results. He also is engaged to consult about or manage cases being handled by other counsel, in the manner of an in-house litigation director. His cases have been resolved successfully by negotiation, applications to the court, and jury verdicts, as the needs of the matter required. He provides legal risk consultation for executives and boards of directors, and conducts sensitive internal corporate investigations. He negotiates and drafts complex contracts, including the creation of business relationships and the transfer of corporate assets, at times valued into hundreds of millions of dollars.


He draws upon three decades of experience in public, private, and academic work to bring a rounded judgment to his engagements. His professional experience includes service as an Honor Program Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, as a special-assignment AUSA in Washington, D.C., as an associate with Shearman & Sterling and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, as General Counsel of Kionix, Inc. and Cognitive Science LLC, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.


Most matters handled by Mr. Pinnisi are resolved by negotiated resolutions with confidentiality restrictions. Matters not so restricted include a ~$3 million dollar settlement obtained for Strategic Advisory, Incorporated in litigation of related cases against Thomas Properties Group, Inc. in federal courts in California and Virginia, and a ~$2 million dollar settlement (after favorable jury verdict) for a private client against the Washington Gas Company in federal court in Maryland.


He is an honor graduate of Cornell University and Cornell Law School, a frequent speaker to bar and business groups, and a recipient of awards for upholding high ethical standards in practice.

Cornell Law School, J.D. 1985
Freeman Civil Rights Scholar
Moot Court Board

Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences, A.B. cum laude 1982
Vedder Political Science Scholar, Dean's List
Captain, Cornell Debate Association
Aleph Samach Honor Society for Student Leadership

Pinnisi & Anderson, Ithaca, New York, 2003 – Current
Co-founder of boutique practice serving national clientele in commercial litigation, contract negotiation and enforcement, corporate governance, internal corporate investigations, transfer of closely held corporations, and intellectual property matters.

General Counsel, Vice President for Business Development, and Secretary of the Corporation, Kionix, Inc., Ithaca, New York, 1999 – 2003
Responsible for all legal matters of world leader in silicon micro-machines. Identified and developed new business opportunities and provided strategic advice to the CEO and Board.

Brown, Pinnisi & Michaels, P.C., Ithaca, New York, 1992 - 1999
Founder and senior litigator handling cases and matters of commercial litigation, contracting, corporate governance, and intellectual property.

Adjunct Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, 1992 – 1999
Offered courses in Negotiation, Appellate Advocacy, Trial Advocacy, and Federal Civil Pre-Trial Litigation.

Litigation Associate, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, Washington, D.C., 1991 – 1992
Products liability litigation counsel in national mass tort cases involving alleged L-tryptophan causation of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome epidemic.

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York, 1988 – 1991
Represented the United States in civil and criminal investigations, negotiations, trials, and appeals in a wide range of matters including cases of national significance.

Litigation Associate, Shearman & Sterling, New York, N.Y., 1987 – 1988
Commercial and bankruptcy litigation practice, primarily re Hunt brothers' bankruptcy litigation following their failed attempt to corner the silver market.

Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice Honor Program, Washington, D.C., 1985 – 1987
Conducted discovery, motions, and trials in civil and criminal cases as a Trial Attorney for the Civil Rights Division and as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia.

Bar Admissions:

  • New York State
  • United States District Court, Northern District of New York
  • United States District Court, Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court, Western District of New York
  • Untied States Court of Appeals for the Federal Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Service Areas:

  • Appellate
  • Business Litigation
  • Closely Held Businesses
  • Commercial Acquisition and Sale
  • Contract Disputes
  • Corporate Governance and Compliance
  • Electrical and Computer Systems
  • Employment Litigation
  • Financial Restructuring
  • General Corporate
  • Leasing
  • Licensing and Technology Transfer
  • Manufacturing
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Patent and Trademark Infringement
  • Trade Secrets and Unfair Competition
  • Venture Capital
  • White Collar Defense and Investigations
  • Workout and Foreclosure

  • Best Lawyers in America
  • AV-Preeminent Rating, Judicial Edition, by Martindale Hubbell
  • Super Lawyers – New York
  • AVVO , Superb Rating: Based on Experience, Industry Recognition, Professional Conduct
  • Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who in Finance and Industry
  • Phi Delta Phi (Legal Service and Ethics Fraternity), Honorary Inductee, Cornell Chapter, 1999 –
  • Harrop Freeman Prize for advancement of civil rights in practice