Michael J. Berger
Associate Professor of Law
B.A., Political Science and Government, 1972, Ohio University; M.A., Public Administration, 1974, St. John's University; J.D., 1979, Southwestern Law School; Member, California State Bar
Phone: (213) 738-5726
For over 20 years, Michael Berger focused his law practice on estate planning, trust administration, probate, and transactional law, all areas that continue to fascinate him. "You have to deal with people good and bad, and emotions from greed to sorrow," he explains. "You learn about people and what drives them. You also get to cross over into many different areas - life insurance, real property, various types of financial documents and financial arrangements, property law, wills and trusts, and family law. You have to be up to date on 401k-type plans, pensions, and retirement plans. All of that is an amazing amount of knowledge that you might not otherwise get out of just one area of law."
"[In estate planning,] you have to deal with people good and bad, and emotions from greed to sorrow. You also get to cross over into many different areas - life insurance, real property, various types of financial documents and financial arrangements, property law, wills and trusts, and family law."
While a law student at Southwestern, Professor Berger served as managing editor of the Southwestern University Law Review. Following graduation, he began his legal career with the firm of Kates, Cohen & Sherman where he advanced to partner in charge of the Estate Planning, Probate and Transactional Law departments and managing partner of the San Fernando Valley office. He later joined the firm of Weissman & Weissman as partner in charge of the Estate Planning, Transactional and Probate Law Department.
Four years later, Professor Berger formed his own professional law corporation specializing in estate planning, trust administration, probate, and transactional law. He serves as a consultant to Paine Webber Inc., Century Bank, Universal Bank and Northern Trust Bank, among other entities. As a registered instructor for the California Department of Insurance, he has conducted estate planning seminars for financial institutions, charitable organizations and civic groups. A member of Southwestern's adjunct faculty since 1996, Professor Berger was appointed as a visiting associate professor of law in 1999. He enjoys sharing "war stories and bizarre cases" with his classes to show them that these situations happen every day to real people. In recognition of his outstanding commitment to his students, Professor Berger has been elected by the graduating class as Commencement Grand Marshal eight years in a row.