Bird Marella Wins Trial for Education Company and Upholds Enforceability of Multi-million Dollar Judgment

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.” He has first-chaired over thirty 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 includes Fortune 500 companies (Xerox, Western Digital and Aramark), large private companies (Vizio, Prospect Medical and Newegg), international conglomerates (Samsung, CJ and LG), prominent Hollywood financiers and production companies (Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh and Roy Lee) and other national and local corporations. Because his clients come from a myriad of industries (including the technology, banking, entertainment, healthcare and manufacturing sectors), his jury trial experience covers a broad range of business-related issues including finance, contracts, securities, intellectual property, real estate and employment.

A significant facet of Ekwan’s practice involves the defense of companies against class action lawsuits. He has defeated class actions focused on numerous industries including the automotive, electronics, telecommunications, financial services and apparel sectors involving liabilities ranging from $10 million to over $100 million. His knowledge of the judges in the Central District and the Superior Courts has proved invaluable in tailoring persuasive arguments 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 defense of the world’s largest plastic pipe manufacturer in a $3 billion qui tam action involving over 100 plaintiffs and multiple ongoing trials; 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 among the select group of “California Litigation Stars” 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 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 wins 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 Los Angeles.

Representative Cases

  • Complete defense verdict for Fortune 500 technology company. After a seven week trial, Ekwan convinced a jury to find for his client on all claims which included breach of contract, securities fraud and other tort claims. Client was facing an eight-figure damages claim as well as punitive damages. Client also received its attorney’s fees and costs as prevailing party.

  • Complete defense victory for financial institution. Ekwan represented a California financial institution against claims of securities fraud and alleged damages exceeding over $40 million. Plaintiffs was the largest shareholder and the former Chairman of the Board for the institution. After Ekwan’s cross-examination of Plaintiff and certain rulings by the trial judge, Plaintiff agreed to have judgment entered in favor of Ekwan’s client ending five years of litigation.

  • Complete defense victory for semiconductor company in ICC Arbitration. Ekwan successfully defended a semiconductor company in a two-week ICC arbitration involving the sale of one of its divisions to one of the largest conglomerates in Japan.  The arbitration involved against allegations of fraud and breach of contract and damages in excess of $50 million. The award issued by the three-arbitrator ICC panel rejected all claims against Ekwan’s client and also granted all of its attorney’s fees.  Based on the fee applications submitted, Bird Marella was able to win despite expending less than half of the $7 million in fees incurred by the conglomerate’s lawyers, a large international law firm.

  • Confidential settlement at the conclusion of a three week jury trial. Ekwan represented a software company in copyright and breach of contract claims against another software company. After three weeks of jury trial, defendant agreed to pay Ekwan’s client a confidential sum the day before closing arguments were to begin. The jurors were polled the next day and indicated that a verdict in the amount of $20 million to $40 million would have been awarded. Until the jury trial began, defendant had refused to engage in any meaningful settlement discussions.

  • Multimillion award for CEO of Major Bank. The arbitration involved litigation of change-in-control agreements and resulting amounts owed to the CEO. After heavily-contested litigation and a multi-day arbitration against a team of lawyers from a major New York law firm, Ekwan obtained full recovery of all amounts due plus interest and recovery of all attorney’s fees expended by the CEO.

  • Complete defense verdict for financial institution. After a four week jury trial, Ekwan obtained a defense verdict on lender liability and tort claims totaling $50 million brought by lenders against a Southern California bank. Client also received an award of attorney’s fees and costs as the prevailing party.

  • Complete defense verdict for Orange County real estate developer. Defending against tort and contract claims and alleged damages of $10 million relating to a $50 million development, Ekwan obtained a directed verdict after close of plaintiffs case-in-chief. Client also received an award of attorney’s fees and costs as the prevailing party.

  • Complete defense verdict for Orange County hospital. After a three week trial, Ekwan convinced a jury to find for his client, a hospital, on elder abuse claims in which plaintiff was seeking an eight-figures damages amount. Ekwan was brought in as trial counsel less than three weeks before the trial commenced.

  • Multi-million dollar verdict for educational services company. Ekwan obtained a multi-million dollar verdict on trade secret claims brought by an educational services company against a competitor. The Recorder (a California-wide legal publication) named it the 6th largest intellectual property verdict of 2013.

  • NASD Arbitration class action victory on behalf of a publicly-traded online brokerage. Ekwan defended one of the largest online brokerage firms in a series of related class action cases alleging improper IPO allocations. Opposing parties did not recover any monies on their class action-related claims and recovered less than $25,000 on their individual claims.

  • Complete arbitration victory for California food company. Ekwan obtained a multi-million dollar award, including a full recovery of attorneys’ fees, on behalf of a California company based on claims brought against a Korean conglomerate. The eleven-day arbitration involved a dispute over the sale of a $50 million business.

  • Walk-away settlement on behalf of a South Korean conglomerate. Client, one of the largest companies in South Korea, was facing contract and tort claims relating to a $100 million resort development in Guam and damages exceeding $100 million. Through litigation of various cross-claims, the walk-away settlement was achieved days before the trial was to commence.

  • Complete defense award on behalf of Southern California healthcare company. After a two week arbitration, Ekwan obtained an award rejecting all claims bought by a physician group for $10 million in compensatory damages.


  • Board of Directors, Former President, Korean American Bar Association, 2001-2011
  • Central District Lawyers Representative, Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, 2003-2005
  • Appointed Member, State Bar of California’s Commission on Access to Justice, 2007-2009
  • Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Korean American Coalition, 2001-2009
  • Regional Governor, International Association of Korean Lawyers, 2008-2010
  • Advisory Council, NETKAL, University of Southern California, 2012-present
  • Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Vice President of Finance, National Asian Pacific Bar Association, 2009-2013
  • Chair, International Litigation Committee, American Bar Association, 2011-2013
  • Member, Adjunct Board of Advisors to the US-Korea Law Foundation, University of California Irvine Law School, 2013-present

Bird Marella Successfully Defends JM Eagle In High Profile Qui Tam Trial

Bird Marella helped secure a significant victory on behalf of its client JM Eagle, the world’s largest plastic pipe manufacturer, in a long-running False Claims Act case. Following a five-week trial in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, federal judge George Wu declared a mistrial ...

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Gary Lincenberg and Ekwan Rhow Recognized as Top Litigators by Los Angeles Business Journal

Name Principals Gary Lincenberg and Ekwan Rhow have been named among the Top Litigators in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal. The prestigious list recognizes 50 of the very best litigators who have exemplified expert knowledge of the legal system, demonstrated mastery ...

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Bird Marella Prevails on Motion for Summary Judgment in Copyright Dispute

Bird Marella attorneys Ekwan Rhow, Gabriela Rivera, and Kimmy Yu obtained summary judgment of all claims against Forever 21, a global fashion retailer, in a copyright infringement action. The court found that Bird Marella successfully demonstrated that Forever 21 had independently created the design ...

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2018 Chambers & Partners USA Rankings

Bird Marella is proud to announce the firm's 2018 Chambers & Partners USA rankings. Chambers is a primary arbiter of achievement in the legal profession, and this year Bird Marella maintained its status as a top litigation firm nationwide. The firm and lawyers are ranked in: * Litigation: ...

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Ekwan Rhow and Jen Won Speak at US-Korea Law Day

Bird Marella Principal Ekwan Rhow spoke at the US-Korea Law Day held at Kia Motors America’s campus on April 28, 2018. Ekwan’s panel discussed recent trends in the Korean legal market and business generation in Korea. Ekwan shared his experience building Bird Marella's Korea practice and lessons ...

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Ekwan Rhow Admitted to American College of Trial Lawyers

Ekwan E. Rhow, a Bird Marella Principal, was recently inducted as a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers – one of the greatest honors for trial lawyers practicing in North America. Terry W. Bird, a Founding Principal of Bird Marella and a Fellow since 1995, welcomed ...

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14 Bird Marella Attorneys Honored as 2018 Southern California Super Lawyers

Bird Marella congratulates Thomas Reichert and Ariel Neuman as Southern California Super Lawyers. In total, 14 Bird Marella attorneys were selected as Super Lawyers for 2018: Terry W. Bird – Criminal Defense: White Collar, Business Litigation, Civil Litigation (Top 100) Sharon Ben-Shahar Mayer – Business Litigation, Criminal ...

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Ekwan Rhow and Paul Chan Named Among the 2018 Most Influential Minority Attorneys by Los Angeles Business Journal

Bird Marella principal Ekwan Rhow and managing principal Paul Chan have been named among the 2018 "Most Influential Minority Attorneys" by Los Angeles Business Journal. Mr. Rhow and Mr. Chan are two of only fifty recipients selected for this honor, and no firm had more ...

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2017 Chambers and Partners USA Rankings

We are proud to announce our 2017 Chambers & Partners USA rankings. Chambers is a primary arbiter of achievement in the legal profession, and this year Bird Marella maintained its status as a top litigation firm nationwide with a Band 2 ranking in “Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations,” ...

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Bird Marella Wins Trial for Education Company and Upholds Enforceability of Multi-million Dollar Judgment

Bird Marella principals Ekwan Rhow and Timothy Yoo secured another trial victory for test preparation and admissions consulting company Elite of Los Angeles. In 2013, Mr. Rhow obtained a jury verdict against former Elite employee Christopher John Hamilton for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duties, and ...

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