The American 

Law Institute 88th Annual Meeting, May 16-18, 

2011. San Francisco

Michael Traynor

ALI Council Chair and President Emeritus Michael Traynor will receive ALI’s Distinguished Service Award on May 16 at the Annual Meeting. The award is given from time to time to a member who for many years has played a major role, undertaking significant responsibilities as an officer in the Institute. In 2008, he retired from full-time practice with the firm of Cooley LLP, where he was a partner in the San Francisco office for over 35 years and engaged in a national litigation practice that included cases involving intellectual property, the First Amendment, and internal corporate investigations.  Before joining that firm, he served as a Deputy Attorney General of the State of California.  Mr. Traynor now devotes much of his time to public-law and law-reform issues and also serves as senior counsel to the Cobalt law firm in Berkeley.  

Mr. Traynor received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an honorary LL.D. from the University of South Carolina.  Between college and law school, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A member of the Institute since 1972 and of its Council since 1985, he has been the Institute’s Chair of the Council since 2008. He previously served as President from 2000 to 2008, as First Vice President from 1998 to 2000, and as Second Vice President from 1993 to 1998. He is an Adviser to the ALI’s project on Legal and Economic Principles of World Trade Law; he was also an Adviser for the Restatement Third projects on Restitution and Unjust Enrichment, Unfair Competition, Products Liability, and Apportionment of Liability, and for the 1988 Revisions to the Restatement Second, Conflict of Laws. A former chair and honorary cochair of ALI-ABA, Mr. Traynor has participated as a cochair or faculty member in biotech and civil litigation courses.

Mr. Traynor cochairs the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20, which is addressing challenges to the legal profession presented by globalization and advances in technology. In 1973 he served as President of the Bar Association of San Francisco. In 2004, Mr. Traynor received the outstanding lawyer award, named for John P. Frank, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. A member of the National Wildlife Federation’s President’s Advisory Council, as well as a past chair and president of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice), Mr. Traynor is also a founding director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund of Canada (now Ecojustice) and a life member of the Sierra Club.

Mr. Traynor is a trustee of the Developmental Studies Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to children’s academic, ethical, and social development, and of the Berkeley Community Fund, which provides scholarships for deserving graduates of Berkeley High School. He has taught Remedies and Conflict of Laws at the law school at U.C. Berkeley, and he has contributed over 100 articles and comments to law reviews and other professional publications.

Mr. Traynor enjoys hiking, traveling, reading, and music. He and his wife, Shirley, reside in Berkeley and recently celebrated their 55th anniversary. They have three children and four grandchildren.

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