Michael R.Whalen, Esq.


MICHAEL R. WHALEN, Esq. specializes in representing high net-worth families in their estate planning and personal matters, including the preparation of wills and trusts of all kinds, family partnerships, and family foundations. He assists families in their gift making, insurance planning, planning for younger generations, and charitable giving. Michael also coordinates the services of the families’ other advisors, including their accountants and investment managers. In addition, he maintains a unique practice in the representation of photographers and photography collectors and their families. A recognized trust and estates specialist, Michael advises individual and corporate fiduciaries in all aspects of trust and estate administration, including fiduciary duties, complex accountings, document construction, income taxation, and principal and income determination.

Drawing on his significant experience in trust and estate litigation, Michael is preeminent in his ability to craft innovative solutions for resolving trust disputes and restructuring trusts. Michael lectures frequently on estate planning and related topics.

When not working for his clients, Michael serves as a trustee of the John Stauffer Charitable Trust; a Trustee of the Los Angeles Childrens Hospital; Director and President of the Georgia B. Ridder Foundation; Director and President of the Daniel X. and Mary N. Freedman Foundation for Academic Psychiatry; Director of the Kenneth Picerne Foundation; and an advisor to the School of Behavioral and Organizational Studies at Claremont Graduate University.


  • J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, 1979
  • B.A., California State University, Fullerton, 1976, summa cum laude


  • Order of the Coif
  • Publications Editor of the California Law Review and Director of the Boalt Hall Moot Court Program
  • Named by the California Business Journal in 1992 as one of California’s five outstanding young trusts and estates lawyers

Bar and Professional Associations

  • American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel
  • Boalt Hall, Co-Chairman of the steering committee of prominent trusts and estates lawyers to establish the Edward C. Halbach Jr. Chair in Trusts & Estates Law
  • USC Probate & Trust Symposium, Planning Committee
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Former Chair, Trusts and Estates Law Section
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Former Member of the Executive Committee, Trusts and Estates Law Section
    Los Angeles County Bar Association Foundation, Life Fellow
  • Frequent lecturer for the LACBA and CEB (Continuing Education of the Bar) in trusts and estates law
  • Admitted to practice in all California Courts; the United States Tax Court; and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Professional Background

  • Partner, Davis & Whalen LLP, May, 1999 to present
  • Partner, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, 1993 to May, 1999
  • Partner, Latham & Watkins, 1987 to 1993, head of its trusts and estates group
  • Associate, Latham & Watkins, 1979 to 1987


  • Co-author, along with Ed Davis, California Wills & Trusts, Lawgic Publishing Company, November 1998

Community Affiliations

  • Trustee, John Stauffer Charitable Trust, providing grants to hospitals and universities throughout California
  • Trustee, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
  • Director and President, Daniel X. and Mary N. Freedman Foundation for Academic Psychiatry
  • Director and President, Georgia B. Ridder Foundation
  • Director, Kenneth Picerne Foundation
  • Trustee, Virginia Adams Charitable Trust
  • Former member, Board of Fellows, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Former Director of the Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital Foundation
  • Former Chair and member of the Board of Visitors, School for Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University
  • Former member, Board of Directors of the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Children's Health Foundation, and the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Arts