Since 2005, Michelle Roberts has been a successful advocate for disabled individuals and employees. Ms. Roberts specializes in claims for benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), specifically claims for disability benefits. Ms. Roberts has helped numerous clients obtain short and long-term disability benefits from insurance companies that had wrongfully denied their claims.
Ms. Roberts is a member of the Executive Committee of the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. She served as President in 2018 and had held an officer position within the organization each year since 2014. She is a member of the 2019-2020 Federal Bar Association Audit Committee (term ending 9/30/2020). She has also been appointed to a three-year term as a Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council (2019-2021). She is Co-Chair of the Lawyer Representatives for 2020. She serves on the Board of Senior Editors of the ABA Employee Benefits Lawbook. She is the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice (TIPS) Vice-Chair to the Employee Benefits General Committee (2019-2020). Each year from 2015-2020, Ms. Roberts was named a “Super Lawyer” by Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine (and was previously named a “Rising Star” for 2012, 2013, and 2014). In 2018, 2019 and 2020, she was named on the Northern California Super Lawyers Top 100 and Top 50 Women Lawyers list. She also received the 2015 ALRP Volunteer of the Year award and the Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Award. Ms. Roberts served as a co-chair of the Ethics Subcommittee of the ABA’s Section of Labor & Employment Law’s Employee Benefits Committee (EBC) from 2009 through 2014. She served as co-chair of the Welfare Plans – Benefit Claims and Social Media subcommittees from 2014-2015. Additionally, from 2013-2015, Ms. Roberts served as an EBC liaison to the Section’s Diversity in the Legal Profession Standing Committee.
The theme of Michelle’s life has been a determination to fight for the underdog. Her work is a natural extension of that theme. She values hard work above most other things in her life. She often finds herself preoccupied with how to fix a client’s problem or how to fix ERISA on a larger scale. Helping clients with disabilities became a personal mission of hers after seeing her father, a disabled veteran, struggles to work and support his family while dealing with the consequences of debilitating medical conditions. She likes to think she inherited her strong work ethic, compassion, and desire to serve from her father. Michelle also values taking advantage of every opportunity for personal growth and is always looking for a way to become a better person. Fighting for clients and raising children in a busy city is pretty all-consuming, but she is as happy as she’s ever been, and wouldn’t have it any other way. For fun and relaxation, Michelle enjoys the ritual of Soul Cycle in the mornings so that she can come into the office with a clear head and ready to face the challenges that may lie ahead. She also tries to practice mindfulness throughout the day, which helps her stay calm in stressful situations. At the end of the day, she enjoys listening to music on her commute home and then seeing the smiling faces of her two kids when she picks them up from school. In addition to work and family, Michelle volunteers with the Federal Bar Association, the Legal Aid at Work Workers’ Rights Clinic, and the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. She hopes to show her kids by example that giving to others is the best way to lead a life of fulfillment.
- California, 2005
- Illinois, 2017
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2005
- U.S. District Court Central District of California, 2006
- U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 2006
- U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 2006
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 2006
- U.S. Supreme Court, 2013
- U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, 2014
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 2016
- Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, California
- University of California, Riverside, Riverside, California
B.A. – 2002
Major: Economics/Law & Society
Major: Political Science
Summa cum laude (top 2%)
- Author of article titled “ERISA: Remedies for Breaches of Fiduciary Duty” published in Valley Lawyer (May 2020)
- Author of article titled “ERISA: Highlights of Recent Notable Cases,” published in Plaintiff Magazine (September 2019)
- Co-author: "Circuit Round-Up of Key Appellate ERISA Decisions from February-September 2019" ABA Labor & Employment Law Section, Employee Benefits Committee Newsletter, Fall 2019 Issue
- Author of Kantor & Kantor LLP’s weekly “Your ERISA Watch” Newsletter circulated to over 470 subscribers nationwide;
- Profiled, “A Life of Fulfillment” Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine 2018;
- Senior Editor, EMPLOYEE BENEFITS LAW (Bloomberg BNA), Ch. 14: Issues Unique to Health Care, Disability, and Other Welfare Benefit Plans & Ch. 20: Ethics, PRivilege, and Related Concerns Unique to the Practice of Benefits Law (2018 and 2019 Supplements);
- Author of “ERISA Remedies” published in the The American Association For Justice Newletter, July 20, 2017;
- Author, ERISA LITIGATION, Sixth Edition; Ch. 17: Personal Jurisdiction (BNA) & Ch. 26: Disability Benefit Claims (BNA 2016 Supplement);
- Author, ERISA LITIGATION, Fifth Edition; Ch. 17: Personal Jurisdiction (BNA 2015 Supplement);
- Co-Author, ERISA LITIGATION, Fifth Edition; Ch. 14: Subject Matter Jurisdiction (BNA 2015 Supplement);
- Co-author of article titled “Anatomy of an ERISA-benefit claim,” published by the Journal of Consumer Attorneys Associaton for Southern California ADVOCATE; Sept. 2017 Issue;
- Co-author of article titled “Anatomy of a Benefit Claim – Practical Presuit considerations and How to Ensure a Strong Record for Litigation,” published in the summer 2015 edition of the Brief;
- Author of article titled “How ERISA Can Provide Equitable Monetary Relief in Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims,” published by the ABA TIPS Health and Disability & Life Insurance Law Committee Newsletter, Fall 2014;
- Contributing Author, EMPLOYEE BENEFITS LAW, Third Edition; Chapter 14: Liability Issues Unique to Welfare Plans (BNA 2015 Supplement); Chapter 20: Ethics, Privilege, and Related Concerns in the Practice of Benefits Law (BNA 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 Supplement); Chapter 13: Benefit Claims and Individual Rights (BNA, 2006, 2007, and 2008 Supplement);
- Chapter Editor, EMPLOYEE BENEFITS LAW, Spring 2013 Supplement; and
- Author of numerous columns for the Los Angeles/San Francisco Daily Journal regarding current ERISA issues.
- Speaker at 45th Annual TIPS Midwinter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits in Coral Gables, FL. Topic: ERISA Hot Topics (January 2019);
- Speaker at CLE provided by California Employment Lawyers Association titled “What Every Employment Lawyer Should Know About Employee Benefits” (September 2018);
- Speaker at the ERISA Benefits Litigation: How to Prosecute and Defend an Employee Benefits Lawsuit Governed by ERISA CLE hosted by the Litigation and Tax Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco (March 2017);
- Speaker at the 14th National Forum on ERISA Litigation. Topic: Ethics and The Fiduciary Exception to Attorney-Client Privilege (March 2017);
- Speaker at the 20th National Advanced Forum on Litigating Disability Insurance Claims. Topic: The Evolving State of New Remedies & Equitable Relief Under ERISA § 502(a)(3) (Feb. 2017);
- Speaker at the 19th National Advanced Forum on Litigating Disability Insurance Claims. Topic: The Evolving State of New Remedies & Equitable Relief Under ERISA § 502(a)(3) (Sep. 2016);
- Speaker at the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) Webinar “The Basics of Benefit Claims” (Sep. 2016);
- Speaker at the 2016 Joint Committee on Employee Benefits ERISA Litigation National Institute conference. Topics: Discovery in ERISA Litigation—FRCP 26-34, ESI, and FOIA Requests& A Practical Guide to Ethics in ERISA Litigation;
- Speaker at 2016 Midwinter Meeting of the Section of Labor & Employment Law Employee Benefits Committee, sponsored by ABA. Topic: Interaction ERISA 502(a)(3) and 502(a)(1)(B) claims;
- Speaker at the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) Webinar “Expert’s Guide to Research” (Nov. 2015);
- Speaker at the American Association for Justice (AAJ) 2015 Annual Convention in Montreal, Canada. Social Security Section/ERISA, Health and Disability Insurance Litigation Group. Topic: Wide World of Post-Amara ERISA Remedies;
- Speaker at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting of the Section of Labor & Employment Law Employee Benefits Committee (EBC), sponsored by the ABA on Benefit and Fiduciary Claims; The Impact of Procedural Issues;
- Speaker at the 2014 Federal Bar Association (FBA) CLE Webinar on Disability Claims Under ERISA;
- Speaker at the 2014 National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) Annual Convention on ERISA Remedies;
- Faculty Speaker at the 2013 Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) Annual Las Vegas Convention on ERISA Liens;
- Ethics panelist at Midwinter Meetings of the EBC (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013);
- *E*verything *R*eally *I*sn’t *S*o *A*wful – an Overview of the Current Landscape of ERISA Preemption & Remedies; Consumer Attorneys of California (“CAOC”) Convention 2012; and
- Faculty Speaker for CLE sponsored by the Rossdale Group LLP: Mastering Veterans’ Benefits, Social Security, & Disability Law on May 16, 2012.
- Author of the following amicus curiae briefs: Brief of Amicus Curiae United Policyholders In Support of Plaintiff-Appellant’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc in the matter of Upadhyay v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., No. 14-15420 (9th Cir.); Brief of Amicus Curiae United Policyholders In Support of Plaintiff-Appellant in the matter of Russell v. Catholic Healthcare Partners Employee Long Term Disability Plan; Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 13-4084 (6th Cir.); Brief of Amicus Curiae United Policyholders In Support of Plaintiff-Appellant in the matter of Upadhyay v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., No. 14-15420 (9th Cir.); Brief of United Policyholders, as Amicus Curiae, in Support of Petitioner in Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., 2013 WL 3458161 (U.S.) (Appellate Brief); co-author of the brief amicus curiae of the National Employment Lawyers Association in LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates, Inc., et al., 127 S.Ct. 2971 (2007) (brief available at 2007 WL 2287651).
- Panel attorney and former co-chair of the Board of Directors for the AIDS Legal Referral Panel (ALRP). A spotlight article may be found online here at https://www.alrp.org/spotlight/michelle-l-roberts-esq.
- Moot court judge for the 2010 National Moot Court Competition, a 2012 and 2015 1L Moot Court Class Final Oral Arguments at UC Hastings School of Law, the 2013 National Finals of the ABA’s Tenth Annual Employment Law Trial Advocacy Competition, and a preliminary round of the Berkeley Law – McBaine Moot Court Competition (2014).
- Alumni law student mentor for UC Berkeley School of Law.
- Member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County (WLAC), the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), and the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA).
- Lawyer Representative, Ninth Circuit Judicial Council (2019-2021) and Co-Chair (2020)
- Vice-Chair to the Employee Benefits General Committee of the ABA’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice (TIPS) (2019-2020)
- Immediate Past President for the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (2019)
- President for the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (2017-2018)
- President-Elect for the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (2017)
- Treasurer/Secretary for the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (2016)
- Vice President of the Northern District of California Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (2014 and 2015)
- Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
- American Bar Association’s Section of Labor & Employment Law’s Employee Benefits Committee (EBC)
- California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA)
- National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)