Laura D. Smolowe is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson and co-leads the Trade Secret and Employee Mobility Practice Group. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and trials in federal and state court. Her successful trial verdicts have twice been named by the Daily Journal as “Top Defense Verdicts” of that year.
Ms. Smolowe has particular expertise 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 the 2016-2017 editions of the California Business Litigation handbook. In 2017, Ms. Smolowe was recognized among the Most Influential Intellectual Property Lawyers by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Ms. Smolowe has a special interest in constitutional law and 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.
Ms. Smolowe 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. 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.
- 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.
- A technology startup, as lead counsel, 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 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.
In 2017, Ms. Smolowe was appointed as the Southern California regional co-chair of the American Bar Association's Judicial Intern Opportunity Program. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Ms. Smolowe also serves on the boards of the anti-poverty non-profit LIFT-LA and the early childhood education center Hope Street Friends. In 2014, she completed 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.
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.