Laura D. Smolowe

Laura D. Smolowe

Laura Smolowe is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson who co-leads the Trade Secret and Employee Mobility Practice Group and serves on the firm’s Management Committee.

Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and trials and arbitrations, as well as counseling clients through their most challenging legal issues — including but not limited to trade secrets, privacy, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. She has led multiple trial teams on both the plaintiff and defense side, including three arbitrations in the last year-and-a-half. Ms. Smolowe has represented Fortune 500 companies as lead counsel, and her successful trial verdicts have twice been named by the Daily Journal as “Top Defense Verdicts” of that year.

Ms. Smolowe has particular experience in the area of trade secrets and employee mobility across a wide array of industries, including technology, entertainment, fashion, retail, finance and pharmaceuticals. She publishes regularly in this area and co-authored the chapter on trade secrets and restrictive covenants in multiple editions of the California Business Litigation handbook. 

Ms. Smolowe has garnered various accolades throughout her career, including most recently being recognized for her commercial litigation work in the 2024 Best Lawyers of America guide. Ms. Smolowe was also named one of the 500 Leading Litigators in America by Lawdragon in 2023 and 2024. In 2017, she was recognized among the Most Influential Intellectual Property Lawyers and in 2021 as a Women of Influence, both by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Additionally, in 2019-20, she was selected as a Southern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers.

Ms. Smolowe also maintains an active pro bono docket, where she focuses on civil rights cases. As a key example, she has partnered with the ACLU of Southern California to bring two groundbreaking federal class actions challenging police and prosecutorial enforcement of gang injunctions in Orange County and Los Angeles. These lawsuits have resulted, in the first case, in a precedent-setting Ninth Circuit opinion holding that the enforcement violated due process, and in the second case, a class-wide preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of most gang injunctions in Los Angeles and a settlement that will require LA to provide due process on this issue going forward. For this work, Ms. Smolowe was a 2018 recipient of the ACLU’s Equal Justice Award and a 2011 recipient of the ACLU’s Courageous Advocacy Award.

Ms. Smolowe is a member of the Board of Trustees for Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, one of the nation’s most prestigious and elite professional choirs, which performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Ms. Smolowe was previously a national co-chair of the American Bar Association's Judicial Intern Opportunity Program, served on the board of the anti-poverty non-profit LIFT-LA from 2012-2020, and served on the California State Bar's Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, to which she was appointed by the State Bar’s Board of Trustees.

Ms. Smolowe received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a senior editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review, was the director of the Green Haven Prison Project and served on the boards of Yale Law Women and the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, Yale's clinical arm. A graduate of Yale University (magna cum laude, with distinction in history), Ms. Smolowe was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta Honor Societies and was awarded the 2002 Lily Rosen Prize for her senior thesis on women’s health in Australia.

Ms. Smolowe joined the firm after clerkships with the Honorable Richard A. Paez on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Dean D. Pregerson on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.


Key Representations

  • DoubleLine Capital and its CEO, Jeffrey Gundlach, against an action brought by former partners in JAMS arbitration, achieving a complete defense award as well as victory on counter-claims that significantly reduced the value of the partners' outstanding equity after a two phase, multi-week hearing.
  • The Estate of Etsuko Toguri in obtaining a $30 million award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, and interest in AAA arbitration against a former partner for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud for failing to pay share of partnership property. The case involved the sale of a $45 million parcel of land in Rancho Cucamonga. The arbitration award was confirmed by the Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2022 and named a Top Verdict of the Week by the Daily Journal.
  • Amgen in obtaining a favorable settlement, including a multi-year royalty, resolving a trade secrets dispute brought against Coherus BioSciences involving the oncology drug Neulasta® on the eve of a lengthy jury trial.
  • Fortress Investment Group in obtaining a complete defense verdict in a five-week bench trial in a lawsuit filed by a life settlement investment fund seeking more than $200 million in damages and bringing claims of  breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, unfair competition, breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. This verdict was named one of the Daily Journal’s top defense verdicts of 2017.
  • Facebook in winning a motion to dismiss in a pair of class actions in federal court challenging certain alleged practices concerning location-related data.  This result was featured by the Daily Journal in its “Verdicts and Settlements” roundup. 
  • Social media app Snap in winning a motion to dismiss trade secret and related claims related to the SnapMaps application.
  • A technology startup, in defending a breach of supply agreement claim and bringing affirmative trade secret and fraud claims against a Fortune 500 public commodities company in arbitration. Ms. Smolowe negotiated a favorable settlement that resolved the case the day before the arbitration hearing.
  • City National Bank in successfully resolving claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and unfair competition brought by Community Bank.
  • Manufacturer of satellite technology company in bringing claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract against former employees who secretly launched a competitor and stole confidential information.
  • Ten-X, an online real estate marketplace, in obtaining a preliminary injunction and then later a cash settlement, a public apology and certain ongoing restrictions in its lawsuit against Commercial Real Estate Exchange (CREXi) and its CEO alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • Air Lease Corporation in resolving allegations of trade secret theft, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition relating to the formation of the company by Steven Udvar-Hazy after he retired from competitor ILFC, a subsidiary of AIG.
  • DoubleLine Capital LP and certain of its founders, including its CEO Jeffrey Gundlach, in winning a $66.7 million jury verdict in favor of Gundlach against his former employer, Trust Co. of the West (TCW), on his cross-complaint. TCW originally brought suit against Mr. Gundlach and his company, DoubleLine Capital, claiming breach of fiduciary duty, trade secret theft and tortious interference in connection with a large scale departure of employees to DoubleLine Capital after Mr. Gundlach was fired. The jury awarded no damages on TCW’s complaint against DoubleLine Capital and the individual defendants. This verdict was named as one of the Daily Journal’s Top Defense Verdicts of 2011.

Selected Speaking Engagements / Publications

  • Panelist, ABA Professional Success Summit (Oct. 28, 2022)
  • Panelist, Daily Journal's Trade Secrets Forum (Sept. 19, 2019)
  • Speaker, “Stop Thief! or All’s Fair In Love, War and Employee Mobility?” All Hands Meeting (Oct. 18, 2017)
  • "Fundamentals of Taking Depositions" Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education seminar (Sept. 28, 2017)
  • Panelist, "Courtroom Issues Unique to Women," Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education seminar (Aug. 18, 2017)
  • “Employee Mobility Issues: Strategies for Litigating Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims and Handling Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation Clauses” Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education seminar (May 5, 2017)
  • “Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants” California Business Litigation (2017, 2016)
  • “Understanding Calif.’s Nuanced Trade Secrets Law” Law360 (Oct. 28, 2014)