Michael Powlen is a Partner of VLP and Chair of the Tax Practice Group. Prior to joining VLP, Michael was a long-time partner at Morrison and Foerster, LLP, where he served as chairman of the tax department.

Michael has handled a wide variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital funds, financing, leasing, licensing, structured finance, entity formation and structuring, real estate transactions, executive compensation, and international transactions. He has expertise in S corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, REITs, mutual funds, REMICs, and hybrid entities. He has advised clients such as Living Social, Morgan Stanley, Lazard Freres, Bank of America, Clorox, Fujitsu, Intel, PMC-Sierra, Plantronics, Oracle, JDS Uniphase, BEA, Prudential, Nestlé, Bechtel, Catellus, Merck, McKesson, Spieker Properties, Glenborough Properties, BRE Properties, Inc., Essex Properties, companies that have been acquisition targets of Viacom, Microsoft, Sun, Cisco and others, and the founders of Facebook and Instagram.

Michael taught at Stanford Law School, lectured on various topics for the Practicing Law Institute, ALI/ABA, the NYU Tax Institute, the Tax Executives Institute, California CEB, and other professional organizations. Michael has published a number of articles and co-authored the chapter on Series LLCs for the treatise Forming and Operating California Limited Liability Companies published by CEB. Michael is a past co-chair of the Partnership and Pass-through Committee of the California State Bar Section of Taxation. He has served on committees of the Section of Taxation of the American Bar Association.


  • J.D. Stanford Law School, 1984, Order of the Coif and Senior Article Editor Stanford Law Review
  • B.A., Temple University, 1974, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Presidential Scholar