J. Michael Cavanaugh is a member of the Energy Team in Washington, D.C. His practice includes representation of clients in project development transactions, principally in the areas of technology and infrastructure, including energy and utilities, transportation and communications. He represents both buyers and sellers in corporate and asset acquisitions and restructuring transactions. He also assists clients with international commercial transactions, including sales and distribution, joint ventures, trade regulation and establishing overseas branch operations.

Mr. Cavanaugh's recent projects include:

  • assisting a public power authority with long-term purchases of electric energy and capacity and development of a 600 MW undersea electric transmission facility
  • assisting liquefied natural gas importers with deepwater port facility licensing application
  • representing the developer of a new U.S. petroleum refinery
  • representing a public power authority on development of an offshore wind turbine facility
  • representing clients in purchase and sale of gas pipelines and collection systems, system operating agreements and joint ventures
  • advising utility clients on integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) facilities
  • representing clients with wind generation projects and sales of environmental attributes and swaps and other market hedging transactions
  • representing a public entity in contracting for savings-incentivized energy efficiency improvements to major facilities
  • representing buyers and sellers of railroads and advising on railroad investment and recapitalization
  • advising a utility client on the purchase and resale of two nuclear power plants (2000 MW)
  • representing state public power authorities in the privatization of two nuclear power stations (1825 MW) and development of new peaker turbine facilities
  • advising a U.S. electric utility in connection with power purchase agreements and fuel supply contracts for a turbine project in Latin America
  • assisting a municipal electric utility in Asia in connection with privatization transactions, advising lenders on a geothermal energy project in East Africa

Before entering private practice, Mr. Cavanaugh served as Attorney-Advisor, Office of the General Counsel, United States Department of Commerce/Maritime Administration from 1974 to 1977 and was the agency's Great Lakes Region Counsel from 1976 to 1977. He was responsible for vessel finance, ship construction and subsidy contracts, and litigation involving government contracts.

Mr. Cavanaugh is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at American University Washington College of Law.

Mr. Cavanaugh has also:

  • assisted cruise lines with new vessel financing, port facilities development and U.S. regulatory matters
  • represented the government of an African nation with respect to ocean transportation and infrastructure projects
  • advised U.S. shipyards, financial institutions and ship owners in connection with vessel financing transactions
  • advised a U.S. wireless telecommunications company on international sales issues
  • represented a Low Earth Orbit ("LEO") satellite operator in connection with venture capital financing, licensing and negotiation of gateway agreements
  • represented energy and transportation clients in regulatory matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Surface Transportation Board, Federal Maritime Commission and U.S. Coast Guard


  • Stanford Law School, J.D.
  • The Ohio State University, B.S., Behavioral Science, cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • The Ohio State University, Political Science Department, Advisory Board, 2016-Present
  • Davis College Akilah, Kigali, Rwanda, Board of Directors, 2018-Present
  • American Bar Association, Antitrust Section
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States
  • Maritime Law Association of Singapore
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Admiralty and Maritime Law, 2021-2024
  • The Legal 500 USA, Transport: Shipping - Litigation and Regulation, 2021, 2022
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020


Speaking Engagements