Laura D. Smolowe is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson and is co-chair of the Trade Secret and Employee Mobility Practice Group. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation in federal and state court.
Ms. Smolowe has particular expertise in the area of trade secrets and employee mobility. She publishes regularly in this area and co-authored the chapter on trade secrets and restrictive covenants in the 2016 edition of the California Business Litigation handbook.
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. 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 in 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.
- 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.
- 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 commercial real estate company, in claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of duty of loyalty, and breach of contract against a competitor start-up launched by former Ten-X executives.
- 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.
- 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. The case was affirmed in a published opinion from the Ninth Circuit.
Ms. Smolowe is a member of the Board of Trustees for Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She 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.
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.