Ekwan E. Rhow is a name principal at Bird Marella. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. Chambers & Partners has recognized Ekwan as a “trial expert” who is often called upon to “undertake high-profile work” and “bet-the-farm litigation,” and has described him as “articulate, brilliant in court and very hard-working.” Benchmark Litigation has named Ekwan as one of the top 20 trial lawyers in California and one of the top 100 trial lawyers in the United States. He has first-chaired over forty cases that were tried to verdict or award in courts and venues throughout California and nationwide.
As a result of his successful jury trial track record and his focused cost-effective approach to case management, clients from varied industries have retained Ekwan to represent them in their complex business disputes. His regular roster of clients include international Fortune 500 companies (Samsung, SK Hynix, Xerox, Western Digital and Aramark), large private companies (Vizio, Prospect Medical, Forever 21 and Newegg), international conglomerates (CJ and LG), prominent Hollywood financiers and production companies (Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh and Roy Lee) and other national and local corporations. He also serves as a personal adviser to high-profile dealmakers and celebrities such as Kanye West. Because his clients come from a myriad of industries (including the technology, banking, entertainment, healthcare, fashion and manufacturing sectors), his jury trial experience covers a broad range of business-related issues including finance, contracts, securities, and intellectual property.
A significant facet of Ekwan’s practice involves class action lawsuits representing both plaintiffs and defendants. He recently was appointed initially as lead counsel by the California federal judge and then as one of three co-lead counsel by the Illinois federal judge overseeing the national TikTok privacy class action – one of the highest profile class actions being litigated. On the defense side, he has defeated class actions focused on numerous industries including the automotive, electronics, telecommunications, financial services and apparel sectors involving liabilities ranging from $100 million to over $1 billion. His reputation among the federal judges has proved invaluable in his presentations on behalf of his clients in these matters.
Ekwan has also been involved in many matters involving the entertainment industry. He has handled disputes over production credits and box office compensation involving films such as How to Train Your Dragon and has defended concert-related litigation for music industry celebrities such as Asian pop star Rain. He is currently involved in shareholder litigation involving the largest Asian American cable television network. He has also represented special effects studios, international movie distribution companies, film financing companies, celebrities, and production companies in numerous other matters.
In addition to his representation of companies in their commercial matters, Ekwan has been involved in many unique high-profile representations including defense of the CEO of one of the nation’s largest consumer electronics companies after his highly-publicized detention in China. After a three-year negotiation within the Chinese government and coordination with the U.S. government, Ekwan secured his release. The case was profiled in a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article. Another of Ekwan’s cases involving the apparel industry became the subject of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution.
His current representations include the defense of the company entities in the 1MDB investigation involving over $1 billion in assets; defense of a law firm in a class action related to loan modifications; defense of a publicly-traded bank and its officers and directors in securities claims brought by one of the bank’s largest shareholders; prosecution of claims by the majority shareholders of a large apparel company against the remaining shareholders; prosecution of claims on behalf of a Fortune 500 company against several Wall Street banks over the sale of auction rate securities; and prosecution of trade secret claims brought by a Fortune 500 hard drive manufacturer.
Ekwan is among the handful of attorneys ranked individually by Chambers and Partners USA for Commercial Litigation in California. He has also been recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in California (top 20) and the United States by Benchmark Litigation, the only ranking guide focusing exclusively on U.S. litigation, and among the “500 Leading Lawyers in America” by Lawdragon. He has been named a “Southern California Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine every year since 2004 and previously one of the nation’s “Best Lawyers Under 40″ by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, a 10,000-plus member bar organization. The Diversity and the Bar Magazine named Ekwan as one of its 2012 “Leading Law Firm Rainmakers.” His trial results have been recognized by major publications such as the Daily Journal, which named one of his victories in 2013 as a “Top Plaintiffs’ Verdicts by Impact.” He was an appointee to the State Bar of California’s Commission on Access to Justice and a past President of the Korean American Bar Association. In 2003, he was selected by the federal judges of the Central District of California to serve as one of its 33 lawyer representatives to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. He recently completed a term as co-chair of the ABA’s Section on International Litigation.
From 2009 to 2013, Ekwan was a member of the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He co-chaired the 2010 NAPABA Convention in Los Angeles.