Michael Harbour represents clients in complex civil disputes. His practice spans diverse areas of law, including class action defense, securities litigation, media and entertainment litigation, and intellectual property disputes. Michael also has successfully represented clients in post-trial and appellate proceedings, including an equal protection challenge to a California wage and hour statute that resulted in a precedential opinion by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to joining Irell, Michael clerked for the Honorable Mary M. Schroeder of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He earned his JD from Harvard Law School where he was the recipient of The Project for the Foundations of Private Law writing prize. Prior to law school, Michael received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University.


  • Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), 23 Cal.App.5th 1129 (2018). Secured a Fifth District Court of Appeal win on behalf of Gerawan Farming against the California Agricultural Relations Board in a 138-page published decision that dealt with many issues of first impression regarding unfair labor practices and decertification elections under California law.
  • Fowler Packing Company, Inc. v. Lanier, 844 F.3d 809 (2016). Secured reversal on appeal for plaintiffs in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiffs had stated a plausible equal protection challenge to a California law excluding two agricultural employers from raising an affirmative defense to wage and hour claims. The Daily Journal recognized this case as one of the “Top Appellate Reversals” of 2016.
  • Secured class decertification in a federal class action against a homeopathic and dietary supplement company alleging false advertising of a dietary supplement. The claims included unfair competition, false advertising and violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
  • Obtained asylum for transgender woman who had fled persecution in Guatemala.
  • Representing film studios in class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
  • Defense counsel for a technology company in various class actions alleging false advertising and securities fraud.
  • Representing a leading developer of semiconductor packaging technology in a patent licensing dispute.


  • "The exact nature of California's standing doctrine," Daily Journal (December 31, 2018)


Harvard Law School (J.D., 2013), cum laude

Vanderbilt University (Ph.D., 2010)

Emory University (B.A., 2004), with Highest Honors; Phi Beta Kappa


  • California, 2014
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of California, and the District of Colorado


  • Hon. Mary M. Schroeder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit , 2013-2014
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