Michelle C. Pardo focuses her practice on civil litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. She serves as a team lead for the Duane Morris Fashion/Retail/Consumer Branded Products industry group and is a member of the firm’s Partners Board. She has worked in a number of diverse areas, including animal law, government investigations, consumer fraud, employment discrimination, products liability, and business and tort litigation. Ms. Pardo has handled proceedings in various state and federal courts and alternative dispute resolution. She has represented clients in regulatory matters before various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS); and the U.S. Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Ms. Pardo has developed extensive experience in animal law and animal rights litigation and regulatory counseling, including representation of businesses or entities in the entertainment, agricultural, food production, educational and research spaces whose operations involve animals or animal products or services. She has had experience with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Ms. Pardo has acted as a member of national counsel teams in major products liability and personal injury cases. She has experience in all aspects of civil litigation, including discovery, class actions, motions practice, settlement negotiations, arbitration, trial and appeal. Ms. Pardo also has extensive experience in managing large scale electronic discovery. In addition to litigation, she frequently advises and counsels her clients on employment and workplace policies and procedures, records and information management, e-discovery, and issues regarding animal rights and federal and state animal welfare laws.
Ms. Pardo has extensive experience in crisis management and has managed clients’ responses to the media in connection with high profile litigation and regulatory matters that seamlessly meld the public relations and legal strategies. Ms. Pardo has developed media/crisis strategies and tactical messaging, and conducted a wide range of media interviews for national and international outlets, including The Today Show, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Geographic, NPR and the Associated Press.
Ms. Pardo is a 1997 magna cum laude graduate of the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where she was a note and comment editor for the Catholic University Law Review, and is a 1992 cum laude graduate of Loyola University Maryland.
Areas of Practice
Litigation and Appellate Law
Animal Law and Animal Rights Litigation
Media and Crisis Communications
Business and Tort Litigation
Advised cold-weather clothing manufacturer with respect to defamatory statements about animal welfare contained in shareholder proposal advanced by animal activist organization.
Obtained a settlement that the client found favorable of Lanham Act and state law tort claims against recording artist on behalf of entertainment company.
Tried a landmark case under the Endangered Species Act to a defense verdict for an entertainment company and obtained an unprecedented award of attorney’s fee in a case that received international media attention.
Tried a federal court diversity case brought by animal activists involved alleged violations of California consumer protection laws. Jury trial resulted in a take-nothing verdict in favor of entertainment company client.
Obtained a successful outcome for a coalition of zoos seeking to import wildlife from Africa to the United States. Successfully intervened into case involving animal activist group challenge to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s grant of an import permit that received international media attention. Successful outcome defeating temporary restraining order.
Obtained a dismissal with prejudice for an entertainment company client in a class action suit brought pursuant to various California consumer fraud statutes.
Obtained a dismissal with prejudice for a university client in a federal court lawsuit that alleged age discrimination and retaliation.
Obtained a dismissal with prejudice for a sports client in a state court lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and retaliation.
Represented non-profit client in successfully resolving a Bureau of Consumer Protection inquiry involving an accreditation program.
Obtained successful outcome on appeal for a national university in a gender discrimination lawsuit.
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- District of Columbia
- The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1997
◦ Note and Comment Editor, Catholic University Law Review
- Loyola University Maryland, B.A., cum laude, 1992
Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2018-present
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
- Partner, 2010-2018
- Associate, 1997-2010
American Agricultural Law Association
International Marine Animal Trainers' Association
American Bar Association
- Litigation Section
- Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
- Animal Law Committee
District of Columbia Bar Association
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Zoological Association of America
Honors and Awards
Listed in Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers for Animal Law, 2014-2020
Listed in The Legal 500 for Dispute Resolution-General Commercial Disputes, 2017
Listed in Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers for General litigation, 2014-2018
Legal Lion, Law360's Weekly Verdict: Legal Lions & Lambs, May 15, 2014
Selected Speaking Engagements
Podcast Interview, “Animal Law,” Ag Law in the Field, Episode 142, November 3, 2022
- Podcast Interview, “Happy Personhood”, Zoo Logic, June 16, 2022
- "Speaker, Navigating the Legal Landscape: Developments in Animal Activism," 15th Annual John Huffaker Agriculture Law Course, Texas Tech University School of Law, May 26, 2022
- Presenter, "Consumer Fraud and Consumer Product Safety Commission Issues in the Pandemic," Duane Morris COVID-19: Navigating Forward Webinar Series, May 6, 2021
- Speaker, "Navigating the Legal Landscape," Stakeholders Summit, Animal Agriculture Alliance, Webinar, May 6, 2021
Speaker, "Animal Activists in the Courtroom: An Overview of Legal Victories, Strategies and Challenges," Zoological Association of America Annual Conference, Montgomery, Alabama, November 16, 2019
Radio Interview, "Do Animals and Humans Have a ‘Right to Wilderness?'" The Lars Larson Show, August 2, 2019
Podcast Interview, "Elephant in the Capitol," Zoo Logic, Season 2, Episode 56, May 9, 2019
Speaker, "Securing Your Seat: Legal Developments in Animal Activism," Animal Agriculture Alliance 2019 Annual Stakeholders Summit, May 9, 2019
Speaker, "Activist Activities: Lessons Learned," North American Meat Institute, Animal Care & Handling Conference, Kansas City, Missouri, October 18, 2018
Podcast Interview, "The Elephant in the Courtroom: Defending Against Activist Threats", Zoo Logic, Season 1, Episode 13, August 2, 2018
Speaker/Panelist, "What Keeps an Animal Lawyer Up at Night? A Survey of Current Legal Issues, Trends and Best Practices for Zoos and Aquariums," Association of Zoos and Aquariums, 2017 Annual Conference, Indianapolis, September 2017
Speaker, "Defending Against Activist Threats: Legal Defenses to Activist Challenges," Animal Agriculture Alliance, 2017 Stakeholders Summit, Kansas City, Missouri, May 2017
Speaker, "Animal Activists in the Courtroom and Media: Current Trends and Lessons Learned," Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, Washington, D.C., February 2017
Speaker, "Advertising and Consumer Fraud Litigation: Current Trends and Lessons Learned," Norton Rose Fulbright Webinar, Washington, D.C., October 2016
Moderator and Speaker, "Defending Against Animal Activist Litigation: A View from the Trenches," Association of Zoos and Aquariums, 2016 Annual Conference, San Diego, September 2016
"Circus Elephants in the Courtroom: Reviewing the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® $25.4 Million Victory Over Animal Activists," Safari Club International, Wildlife Law CLE, Las Vegas, February 2016
Speaker, "Anatomy of a Landmark Animal Rights Case," Animal Law Symposium, Massachusetts Society for Medical Research, Boston, December 2014
Speaker, 2014 National Animal Interest Alliance Conference, Orlando, Florida, November 2014
Speaker, "Elephants in the Courtroom," Norton Rose Fulbright Webinar, Washington, D.C., August 2014
Speaker/Panelist, "Animal Welfare Litigation Impacting Livestock Producers," American Agriculture Law Association Annual Symposium, Austin, Texas, October 2011
Speaker, "Strategies for Coping with Animal Law Claims," Animal Agriculture Alliance, 9th Annual Stakeholders Summit, Arlington, Virginia, April 2010
Moderator, "Navigating the Road Ahead: E-Discovery and Information Management Workshop," Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P., Washington, D.C., October, 2006
Contributor, Duane Morris Animal Law Developments Blog
Author, "Personhood for Animals: Has Science Made Its Case?" Animals (Special Issue, Zoo and Aquarium Welfare, Ethics, Behavior), 2023
“What’s in a Name? The Battle Over Lab Grown Meat Regulation, Labeling and Advertising,” Chapter 10, 15th Annual John Huffaker Agriculture Course Materials, State Bar of Texas, May 2022
- Author, "This Little Piggy Went to Court," International Association of Fairs & Expositions, January 2020
- Quoted, "PETA is Threatening to Sue Louis Vuitton Over “Humanely Farmed” Animal Claims," The Fashion Law, December 7, 2020
- Quoted, "As Trump Signals Return to Work, Retailers Face Uncertain Choices," WWD, March 25, 2020
- Quoted, "American Animal Rights Activists Test New Tactics in Court," The Western Producer, November 1, 2018