Victor Jih’s parents were terrified when he told them he and his sister were going to appear on the CBS reality series Amazing Race. “Especially minority lawyers, there are assumptions and expectations about what your career is supposed to look like,” says Jih, a partner in O’Melveny & Myers’ Century City, Calif., office. “The two things I was told were ‘don’t embarrass the family’ and ‘don’t get fired.’ ” It may have helped that he and sibling Tammy, then an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, won the whole contest, which aired in 2009.
That wasn’t the first victory for Jih, 38, a 1996 graduate of Harvard Law School. Shortly after he and lawyers from O’Melveny took over from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in defending The Walt Disney Co. in a multibillion-dollar dispute over the rights to Winnie the Pooh, they went on the offensive. Jih’s team uncovered a pattern of pervasive litigation misconduct by rival Stephen Slesinger Inc., including the hiring of a private detective who stole documents from Disney offices. By 2009, they’d secured dismissals of all of Slesinger’s claims in both state and federal court.
Currently Jih is defending a FedEx Corp. unit in a nationwide class action brought by drivers who are seeking to be reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors in an effort to obtain overtime pay and better benefits. He’s also helping the developers of video games Call of Duty and Modern Warfare to sue Activision Blizzard Inc. after their firing from the company resulted in a dispute over tens of millions of dollars for the rights to develop Modern Warfare 3 and other games.
“Growing up, there was always a very clear path of success: You work very hard, you go to a good law school, you work for a good firm,” said Jih, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan. “Given the economy, there’s more pressure to network and bring in new business.” — Jason McLure