Michael Harnden has spent much of his legal career advocating and arguing for his clients in unique or complex cases by finding a way to break down the issues and explain them in a way judges and juries appreciate and understand. Merging his interests in the law, technology, and advocacy, Mr. Harnden focuses his current practice on issues relating to online speech, privacy, the First Amendment, defamation, and internet law.
Even before deciding on a career in law, Mr. Harnden’s first love was technology. He built his first computer from scratch in middle school and served as I.T. support not only to his friends and family, but to several local businesses.
During his undergraduate years at the University of Arizona, Mr. Harnden studied programming and information technology, ultimately earning a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS). U of A’s MIS program has ranked among the top five nationally since 1989. Alongside his studies, Mr. Harnden competed with the university’s mock trial team, reaching the national championship tournaments multiple times.
After graduating, Mr. Harnden returned to coach this team for 8 years and still volunteers his time with the program to help develop and train these students in the ways of advocacy, persuasion, evidence, and trial techniques.
While attending the University of Arizona law school, Mr. Harnden was a member of the school’s trial team, competed in many oral advocacy competitions, and spent his summers clerking for trial judges in both state and federal courts.
After law school, Mr. Harnden joined a small firm in 2010 and primarily focused on consumer protection litigation. The firm was one of the only offices in Arizona that sued the large national banks to protect homeowners during the mortgage/foreclosure meltdown. Fighting for the little guy against entities that (almost literally) have all the money in the world required not only lots of hard work, but also the flexibility and inventiveness to convince the courts who had rarely or never dealt with cases like this before the Great Recession that there were laws that prevented banks from lying to people.
During this time, Mr. Harnden also taught law fellow lawyers in their continuing education classes about the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Apart from his consumer protection work, Mr. Harnden represented parties in business disputes, sued to protect his clients from defamation and invasion of privacy, and litigated multiple contract issues.
Mr. Harnden’s cases involving website operators, online speech, the First Amendment, and defamation and privacy claims on the internet have truly allowed him to combine his interest in technology with his love for the law. These issues are big and getting bigger as more and more communication moves online. His cases have taken him all over the country and involved bench trials, jury trials, and appellate work in multiple state and federal courts.
Due to his expertise in this field, Mr. Harnden was asked to be a guest lecturer at Emory University School of Law, where he taught a Communications and Media Law class about all of these topics and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—a federal law that governs who can be sued for false or otherwise harmful speech online.
Outside of his time spent in the law, Mr. Harnden loves to SCUBA dive, plays softball when he can, and roots for University of Arizona sports teams alongside his goofy Golden Retriever, Boomer.
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