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Matthew Powers began training to be a lawyer at the age of 11. He picked out a high school known for its debate team and spent much of the next four years on the road competing in debate tournaments. At 16 — he skipped two years of grade school — he won a debate scholarship to Northwestern University where he continued to hone his argumentative skills. He then went on to Harvard Law School, graduating in 1982. His years on the debate circuit paid off. Judges, in-house counsel and colleagues say Powers stands out among patent litigators for his intelligence and ability to communicate with judges, juries and clients. “He can explain difficult issues in very simple language, and he’s very tuned in to what’s on the judge’s mind,” one Bay Area judge said. “If he senses he’s not making headway on a point, he may abandon it and go to something else. You can’t catch him on something he hasn’t thought of.” Clients also praise Powers’ ability to guide them in the right direction. “A lot of litigators want to hedge when counseling clients; they’re hesitant to say whether a judge is going to do something or not and give recommendations on which options a company should pursue as a result,” said Mark Brazeal, deputy general counsel of Broadcom Corp. “Matt doesn’t shy away from providing such advice.” “Matt’s just the smartest guy in the room,” said another in-house lawyer who has worked with Powers. Powers, 44, began his legal career at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. As a first-year associate he got to work on a patent case and found he had an affinity for it. As a third-year, he launched Orrick’s patent litigation group. He spent 10 years at Orrick before moving to Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he is head of the firm’s global patent litigation group and manager of its Silicon Valley office. “The cases I like the most are those we take over just before trial,” Powers said. “It’s like taking a losing chess position and turning the board around and winning.” Powers said his colleagues help score the victories in court. “It’s very much a team sport,” he said. “Part of my job is to create that team.” Weil, Gotshal partner Edward Reines said Powers’ team loyalty, combined with his oral advocacy and consummate professionalism, make him an outstanding lawyer. “He’s the Barry Bonds of patent litigation,” Reines said.

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