Mark B. Helm

Mark B. Helm

After over thirty-five years as a trial lawyer and appellate advocate in complex cases and as a counselor for corporations on a wide range of issues, Mark Helm has been spending increasing time mediating litigated disputes.

He is a member of the ADR panel for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and he has mediated disputes in a wide range of cases. These include complex securities enforcement matters, discrimination cases arising under federal statutes, intellectual property disputes, civil rights cases, and many others.

As a litigator, he has specialized in complex disputes involving investment firms or their portfolio companies; trade secrets and employee mobility; media and intellectual property matters; claims against law firms; and matters involving the duties of directors, officers and shareholders.

Mr. Helm has demonstrated his skills in diplomacy in numerous legal capacities outside the courtroom. From 2005 to 2010, Mr. Helm served as co-managing partner of Munger, Tolles & Olson and was named in 2008 as one of Lawdragon’s “100 Managing Partners You Need to Know.” More recently, he has served as outside general counsel for a public company.

Likewise, Mr. Helm has distinguished himself in numerous leadership roles in the community. He is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and a member of the board of directors of the Ojai Playwrights Conference.

Mr. Helm served from 2009 to 2012 as co-chair of the ABA Litigation Section’s Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest. More recently he served as an NGO observer at terrorist Military Commission proceedings in Guantanamo Bay.

Active for many years in efforts to diversify the legal profession, Mr. Helm has served as co-chair of the firm’s diversity committee since stepping down as co-managing partner. He was on the team of lawyers who developed the “Mansfield Rule” for the Stanford Law School Women in Law Hackathon in 2016 and was the team member chosen to present the proposal before that group.

Before joining Munger, Tolles & Olson, Mr. Helm clerked for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court (1983-1984) and Judge Carl McGowan of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1982-1983). Before attending law school, Mr. Helm served for a year as the political speechwriter for Mayor Kevin H. White of Boston.


Mr. Helm’s experience representing asset management firms includes matters for:

  • DoubleLine Capital and CEO Jeffrey Gundlach in a lawsuit brought by his former employer, Trust Company of the West, alleging theft of trade secrets and breach of fiduciary duties. The jury awarded Gundlach $66.7 million and no damages to TCW. The case was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of 2011’s Top Defense Verdicts.
  • EIG Global Energy Partners in obtaining a preliminary injunction preventing Trust Company of the West from including in its sale to Carlyle Group a $4 billion investment fund subject to a change-of-control provision. An arbitration proceeding challenging the sale was later resolved.
  • Oaktree Capital Management in an arbitration brought by one of its former principals seeking compensation allegedly owed, which resulted in an eight-figure monetary award for Oaktree.
  • Standard General in obtaining an anti-SLAPP dismissal of a defamation claim brought by former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney related to his termination.

Mr. Helm’s experience in media matters includes the following:

  • Represented New Line Cinema in defending and resolving claims asserted by the heirs of J.R.R. Tolkien challenging the participation accounting for the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
  • Obtained a jury verdict for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in a highly publicized invasion-of-privacy case arising from a television broadcast, which The National Law Journal called one of the 10 most significant defense verdicts of 2001.
  • Successfully prosecuted for Danjaq, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and United Artists Pictures copyright and trademark claims to stop a movie studio’s efforts to develop a new series of “James Bond” films.
  • Represented television and print news organizations in numerous cases alleging defamation or invasion of privacy and in cases seeking access to government proceedings.
  • Litigated for a church a copyright dispute over the rights to religious works.

Mr. Helm’s experience representing law firms includes the following:

  • Defended numerous malpractice claims arising from a wide range of transactions or lawsuits, including international banking transactions, initial public offerings, sales of businesses and many others.
  • Successfully argued before the California Supreme Court the seminal case of Viner v. Sweet, which held that a plaintiff must prove but-for causation in a transactional legal malpractice case.
  • Successfully resolved claims that a departing group of lawyers allegedly breached their fiduciary duties and contributed to the demise of a well-known San Francisco law firm, as well as claims for unfinished business.
  • Conducted an internal investigation into suspected billing irregularities by a law firm partner.
  • Represented law firms in numerous cases alleging malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and conflicts of interest.

Mr. Helm’s experience litigating corporate law disputes involving the duties of directors, officers or shareholders includes the following:

  • Mark Zuckerberg in class actions filed in Delaware Chancery Court challenging Facebook’s issuance of non-voting stock.
  • A director, officer and major shareholder in a closely-held family business in claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty and insider dealing.
  • A corporation in an appraisal action in Delaware Chancery Court involving a dispute whether preferred shareholders were entitled to a preferred return from merger proceeds.

Mr. Helm has extensive experience in trade secrets and employee mobility cases, including matters in the following industries: asset management, aircraft leasing, biopharmaceuticals and technology of various kinds. He also has conducted internal investigations in a variety of substantive and organizational settings.

Mr. Helm also has extensive experience as an appellate advocate, having argued more than 25 appeals in state and federal courts throughout the country, and is frequently retained at the post-trial-motion stage after unsuccessful trials. For example, he successfully argued the Ninth Circuit’s affirmance of a district court ruling that a citizens suit could not be brought under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act to challenge diesel particulate emissions at railyards.

Mr. Helm served on an interim basis as outside general counsel for Myers Industries, Inc., an NYSE-listed public company (MYE) based in Akron, Ohio involved in materials handling and tire and wheel equipment distribution.

Select Speaking Engagements

  • “The Path to Women’s Leadership in the Modern Law Firm” (ALAS Advancing Women in Law Firm Leadership Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 18, 2018)
  • “The Mansfield Rule” (part of group presenting to 2016 Women in Law Hackathon, Stanford Law School, June 24, 2016)
  • “Managing Partner Liability Issues” (13th Annual Aon Large Law Firm Symposium Chicago, Illinois, October 17, 2013)
  • “Jury Selection and Persuasion” (Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education seminar, Los Angeles, California, September 12, 2013)  
  • “Trying the Trade Secret Case” (Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education seminar, Los Angeles, California, May 2, 2013)  
  • “Trial Tips: Effective Trial Themes, Why Experts And Demonstrative Exhibits Are Imperative – earlier than in other cases – and how to select a jury” (Second Annual Advanced Trade Secret/Employee Mobility Practicum, San Francisco, California, March 29, 2013)  
  • “Signs of the Times: What Law Firm Management Needs to Know About Law Firm Retirement Polices and Jewel v. Boxer” (Attorneys' Liability Assurance Society Annual General Meeting, Whistler, Canada, June 22, 2012)  
  • “Trade Secrets and Business Litigation Trial Strategies” (Calif. State Bar Intellectual Property Section webinar June 20, 2012)  
  • “Litigating a Trade Secret Case” (Bridgeport Continuing Legal Education seminar, San Francisco, California, December 9, 2011)