Michael (Mike) E. Santa Maria

Baker & McKenzie LLP


Michael Santa Maria has a broad-based corporate transactional practice with an emphasis in international cross-border transactions. He routinely handles complex cross-border business transactions and corporate matters ranging from mergers and acquisitions, direct investment, joint ventures, and international franchise and distribution matters. Michael is recognized in Chambers for his work in cross-border franchising, was listed for five consecutive years in the Who’s Who Legal: The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, and was recently named by Franchise Times as one of the top 101 franchise lawyers in the United States and Canada. Before entering private practice, he was a registered financial advisor in the state of Texas, obtained an MBA and worked as a financial analyst in leveraged buyouts in the transportation industry.

Practice Focus

Michael assists clients in realizing their international corporate development goals. He establishes international development strategies, assisting in structuring, negotiating and implementing all types of business matters across various industry lines. His practice extends to (a) strategic cross-border matters (complex joint venture agreements, foreign direct investment, greenfield investments); (b) execution of clients’ ongoing cross-border business models (international licensing and franchising distribution, sales and related matters); and (c) specialty advisory matters related to clients’ cross-border strategy investments or ongoing cross-border business (compliance, intellectual property, labor and employment, tax and other matters). Michael has helped clients in a host of different types of industries and geographies.

Michael is a member of the North America Nearshoring Initiative, part of the Firm's Global Geopolitical Risks Task Force. Devised to help our clients respond to the supply chain and business disruptions created by various geopolitical events over the last several years, the Nearshoring Initiative focuses on helping our clients navigate the legal issues involved in exiting or amplifying in-market operations, analyzing cross-border issues that may be implied by any such investments and ultimately implementing new or augmented investments in the selected local market.

Professional Honors

  • 2023 Franchise Times, Legal Eagles
  • 2023 Thought Leader, Who's Who Legal: USA Franchising
  • 2022 Franchise Times Legal Eagles, Hall of Fame
  • 2021 Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America
  • 2021 Best Lawyers in America, Franchise Law, listed 13 times from 2005

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Dallas Bar Association
  • International Franchise Association


  • Texas~United States (1992)


  • Texas Tech University (J.D., magna cum laude) (1992)
  • Southern Methodist University (M.B.A.) (1988)
  • Southern Methodist University (B.B.A. Finance and Accounting) (1986)


  • English
  • Spanish