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Depending on how you look at it, Morgan Chu is either a child prodigy or a teen-age rebel. It takes nerve for a 15-year-old son of an academically inclined Chinese immigrant family to quit high school — as Chu did in 1966 — and run off to New York City. Even so, Chu entered the University of California at Los Angeles just one year later. The future lawyer argued his way into UCLA without the required high school diploma. Today, the IP litigator uses his nerve to win cases. In June, Chu, 51, who is co-managing partner at Los Angeles’ Irell & Manella, won a $500 million jury verdict for City of Hope Medical Center in its infringement battle with Genentech Inc. Despite his successful 25-year career at Irell, Chu is still, in a way, the black sheep of his family. His father was a chemical engineer. His oldest brother Gilbert has a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a medical degree from Harvard, and teaches at Stanford Medical School. Middle brother Steven won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997 for a technique that slows down an atom’s movement through the use of lasers. Chu, the baby in the family, has his share of advanced degrees, but they’re not in the hard sciences. Chu finished college in 1971 at the age of 20 with a political science major. He moved on to graduate school, but admits that school was mainly a way to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. By 1973, Chu had already received a Ph.D. from UCLA in urban politics. “I tend to take a lot of classes,” Chu says. He headed off to Yale for postdoctoral study and received a master’s degree in the school’s new Studies in Law program in 1974. He entered law school at Harvard that year and got his degree in 1976. A law degree in two years? Chu explains: “I had written to various schools asking if it was OK to do it in two years. Most said no. Harvard said yes.” Chu landed at Irell & Manella in 1977 after clerking for Judge Charles Merrill of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was Irell’s first Asian lawyer. In fact, he says he can’t even remember if he saw any other Asians at any of the firms where he interviewed. One of Chu’s first clients was toymaker Mattel Inc., which had been sued by a small inventor for patent infringement in connection with handheld electronic games. Mattel was a longtime Irell client. Its previous outside IP counsel was conflicted out from this case, so the toymaker looked to Irell. Chu, a first-year associate at the time, had handled some securities matters for Mattel, and the company asked for him. “It was an enormous risk for the client to take,” Chu says. “It was probably a dumb decision to entrust anything to me at that point in my career.” But Mattel insisted, and, in 1979, Chu won the case. The victory earned Chu a reputation as a young go-to guy in the technology-litigation arena. And the victories started rolling in, including a $1 billion settlement victory for Texas Instruments Inc. against Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. In 1996 he won $120 million for Stac Electronics — now a part of Previo Inc. — in a patent trial against Microsoft Corp. In 1997 he successfully represented plaintiff Matthew Bender & Co. in a copyright infringement case against West Publishing Co., over a page-numbering system used in publishing legal opinions. City of Hope is Chu’s current big-ticket client. Two City of Hope inventors licensed a method of making biotech drugs to Genentech in return for 2 percent royalties on sales made by third parties under the technology licensed to Genentech. The case was originally tried in state court last year, but ended with a hung jury. This time, Chu successfully persuaded the jury that Genentech concealed massive amounts of royalties. What was the main difference the second time around? “In the second trial we called Genentech employees in as adverse witnesses, and went after them aggressively,” says Chu. “We made the trial a contest of credibility.” The jury deliberated for 16 days, a wait so exasperating that finally Chu took off for a European vacation with his wife. In June, the jurors awarded City of Hope $300 million in back royalties, and another $200 million in punitive damages. Chu expects that the case will be appealed. Chu attributes some of his success to his customary bow tie, and suggests that young litigators adopt his sartorial style. A bow tie, he says, would give them a better chance to “bend down and smell the flowers once in a while.” CHU’S ADVICE TO LITIGATORS Work: It doesn’t matter how smart, creative, or good-looking you are. The business of practicing law at a high level involves hard work. That’s true both for first-year lawyers and grizzled veterans. Empower: Chu recommends empowering jurors by breaking down technical information into simple modules. “You’re not out to turn them into world-class engineers and scientists.” Plan: Pick which battlefields you’re going to wage war on. Focus your energies and resources on important issues. Go for the jugular — but do it politely, because, “that way no one knows you’re actually going for the jugular.”

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