Laura D. Smolowe is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation in federal and state court, where she has argued motions and appeals, examined witnesses at trial, taken and defended depositions, written extensive briefs, and led discovery efforts.
Ms. Smolowe has particular expertise in the area of trade secrets and employee mobility and she has written about the unique nature of California's trade secrets law. Recently, Ms. Smolowe represented DoubleLine Capital LP, a major asset management company, in a dispute with Trust Company of the West. After a two-month trial, the jury awarded a $67 million verdict in favor of our client. This verdict was named as one of the Daily Journal’s Top Defense Verdicts of 2011. Other major representations in this area include defending an aircraft leasing company charged with misappropriating trade secrets and diverting corporate opportunities of a competitor, and defending an investment management firm charged with misappropriating trade secrets of a life settlements fund with whom the firm had entered into a credit and security agreement.
Ms. Smolowe has a special interest in constitutional law and she has litigated multiple constitutional issues, including section 1983 and state and federal habeas cases involving, among other issues, due process and the First, Sixth and Eighth Amendments. She maintains an active pro bono docket, where she focuses on civil rights cases. For example, Ms. Smolowe co-counseled with the ACLU of Southern California to bring a federal class action challenging police and prosecutorial enforcement of a gang injunction in Orange County. A bench trial resulted a federal district court ruling holding that the enforcement violated the due process rights of the class, which was then affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in a precedent-setting first-of-its kind opinion. For this work, Ms. Smolowe was a 2011 recipient of the ACLU's Courageous Advocacy Award.
Ms. Smolowe recently completed serving a three-year term 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. She also serves on the Boards of the anti-poverty non-profit LIFT-LA and the early childhood education center Hope Street Friends.
A 2002 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 received her J.D. in 2006 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.
Ms. Smolowe joined the firm after clerkships with the Honorable Richard A. Paez on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Dean D. Pregerson on the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
- Air Lease Corporation, currently defending against allegations of trade secret theft, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary, and unfair competition relating to the formation of the company by Steven Udvar-Hazy after he retired from competitor ILFC, a subsidiary of AIG.
- Fortress Investment Group against claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, unfair competition, and breach of contract in a lawsuit filed by a life settlement investment fund to which Fortress lent $65 million pursuant to a Credit and Security Agreement. The case initially alleged Fortress took the plaintiffs’ proprietary information in order to launch its own competing investment funds, and as amended, alleges in addition that Fortress misrepresented to plaintiffs that it would increase the amount of the loan. The case is currently pending in the complex division of California Superior Court.
- 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.
- Alleged gang members, against the Orange County District Attorney’s office (OCDA) and Orange Police Department (OPD) who sought a civil injunction against these members, alleging they were agents of a criminal street gang. In this landmark case, the judge found that the OCDA and OPD violated the individuals’ right to procedural due process.