Photo of Michael M. Purpura
Partner / Honolulu

Michael M. Purpura


Michael Purpura is a Partner in the Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group and concentrates his practice on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations, complex civil litigation, crisis management, and appellate litigation.  Since joining Carlsmith Ball, Mike has represented individuals and corporations in investigations conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawai`i, the Criminal, Tax, Antitrust, and Environmental and Natural Resources Divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the State of Hawai`i Attorney General, the State of Hawai`i Securities Enforcement Branch, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  In his civil practice, Mike has handled a variety of complex litigation, including contract, tax, copyright, patent, real property, products liability, class action, mass tort, banking, and securities matters, in both federal and state courts.

Mike recently served as counsel of record and filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of 36 former high-ranking officers and civilian leaders of the armed forces in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, urging the Court to uphold the constitutionality of the University of Texas's race-conscious admissions policy.

Mike has extensive government experience.  He served from May 2007 through December 2008 as Associate Counsel to the President, representing the White House in congressional investigations and other sensitive matters, as well as providing legal advice for both the President and senior White House officials. Immediately prior to joining the White House, Mike served as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice, where he assisted the Deputy Attorney General in the management of the national security functions of the Department, including counterterrorism and counterespionage investigations. He also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York and the District of Hawai`i, during which time he tried numerous cases in U.S. District Court and briefed and argued appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals. While in the SDNY, Mike served in the Organized Crime and Terrorism Unit, where he led the investigation and prosecution of agents of the Iraqi Intelligence Service who operated in the U.S. and obtained convictions of multiple members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family. Mike prosecuted complex public corruption, environmental, and other white-collar criminal matters during his time as an AUSA in the District of Hawai`i and managed all terrorism-related investigations in the district.

He is listed in Band 1 of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2017 for Litigation:  General Commercial.  Mike was recently selected by attorney peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017 for, extraordinarily, six areas of law:  Appellate Practice, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Real Estate, Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), and Litigation - Securities.  Best Lawyers also named him 2018 Honolulu Litigation - Securities "Lawyer of the Year."  He was named a 2017 Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation, and he was selected by Hawai`i Super Lawyers 2017 for Criminal Defense: White Collar and Business Litigation.

He serves as a Lecturer in Law at the University of Hawai`i William S. Richardson School of Law, where has taught Constitutional Law and a seminar on White Collar Crime.


  • Named Best Lawyers' 2018 Hawaii Lawyer of the Year for Litigation - Securities
  • Named Best Lawyers' 2017 Hawaii Lawyer of the Year for Appellate Practice
  • Listed in Band 1 of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2017 for Litigation: General Commercial
  • Selected by attorney peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017 for, extraordinarily, six areas of law: Appellate Practice, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Real Estate, Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) and Litigation - Securities
  • Named a 2017 Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation
  • Selected by attorney peers for inclusion in Hawaii Super Lawyers 2017
  • Lecturer in Law at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law; White Collar Crime seminar


  • Hawaii State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association

Prior Work Experience

  • ​The White House, Associate Counsel to the President
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Senior Counsel to Deputy Attorney General
  • U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii, Assistant United States Attorney
  • U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Assistant United States Attorney
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell, Associate