- The University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- J.D. – 1991
- Moot Court Semi-Finalist
- Boston College
- B.A. – 1987
- Major: Philosophy and Psychology
- Magna cum laude
- Boston College Scholar of the College
- Order of the Cross and Crown
- Dean’s List, 1983-1987
- Golden Key Honor Society
- National Dean’s List
- Top 100, Washington Super Lawyers, 2017–2021
- Washington Super Lawyers, 2001–2021
- “Eagle” Member, Washington State Association for Justice
- AV Preeminent
- U.S. Supreme Court
Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based lawyer with a national practice, has devoted a significant amount of his 30-plus year career to helping childhood sex abuse victims find justice, compensation, and closure through the legal system. He has brought hundreds of successful lawsuits on behalf of children—and adults who were sexually abused as children—against the predators and perpetrators that have hurt them, including the powerful institutions that ignored, covered-up, or acted in secrecy for years, even decades.
With a national reputation for success, Michael and the PCVA legal team are frequently contacted by abuse survivors throughout the United States for help. They also assist, advise, or join with other law firms and lawyers on child sex abuse cases where substantive knowledge and firepower are required to litigate against influential and powerful institutions.
Michael’s approach to his work is not that of an ordinary personal injury lawyer, making him a highly sought-after advocate for child sex abuse victims. The skills and experience needed to handle these complex, layered, and often emotionally charged cases are highly specific. He understands child sex abuse lawsuits from start to finish. He acknowledges that everybody has a unique story, and everybody experiences the trauma differently. Sexual abuse is an individual trauma—not a mass tort. As such, his firm treats each individual with the respect he or she deserves.
Michael has personally tried over 50 cases in front of juries, judges, and arbitration panels and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors through trial verdicts or settlements. He has prevailed against the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and other state and national institutions. He has successfully represented individuals who have endured sexual abuse in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, youth organizations, and daycares, including significant victories against the State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services in foster care cases. In claims against human trafficking operations, such as the website backpage.com, Michael and his team were instrumental in shutting down its operation and obtaining compensation and closure for some of the individuals it harmed, with other cases ongoing.
Michael knows that for most abuse survivors, justice is not just about compensation. Many come forward to feel heard and to effect change. Over the years, Michael has played a significant role in amplifying those voices to make a difference. And while he can’t guarantee specific results, most of the people he represents “walk out the door” at the end of the case feeling glad they “walked in the door” at the beginning.
Michael and his wife Heather are active in their community, notably with charities that reach out to and assist poor and marginalized people.
- $95,000,000+ class action total judgment on a $57M jury verdict for 22,000 home care workers, believed to be the largest class action verdict against DSHS of its kind
- $40,000,000 bankruptcy settlement for 70 victims of sexual assault by Jesuit priests
- $31,000,000 bankruptcy settlement for 74 victims of sexual abuse by members of the Spokane Catholic Diocese
- $12,125,000 settlement for victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a Seattle Archdiocese priest
- $10,150,000 settlement for 9 victims of sexual abuse by a notorious pedophile Catholic priest
- Eight figure settlement in a premise liability case against a private business owner and a security company
- $6,500,000 settlement for 5 plaintiffs who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest at a high school
- $6,000,000 settlement with Kiwanis International for failing to protect children from sexual abuse at Kiwanis Vocational Home
- $5,570,000 settlement for 19 victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church of New Orleans
- $4,600,000 settlement for 25 victims of sexual assault by members of the Illinois Catholic Church
- $4,232,000 Jury Verdict for 2 victims of sexual assault by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church)
- $3,000,000 sexual abuse settlement against DSHS
- $2,500,000 jury verdict and settlement for a person injured by a negligently modified industrial machine
- $2,100,000 wrongful death settlement with DSHS for father of a 3-year-old boy killed by the mother’s boyfriend, who CPS should have known was a chronic child abuser
- $1,200,000 settlement for a victim of sexual assault by a Catholic priest
- $1,000,000 settlement for the victim who died during a police arrest
- American Bar Association
- King County Bar Association
- Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association
- Washington State Association for Justice, Board of Governors
- Washington State Association for Justice Foundation Board, Secretary/Treasurer
- National Crime Victims Bar Association, Board Member