Stephen Payne represents clients in complex civil litigation. His practice includes intellectual property litigation, appellate litigation, and class action defense. 

Prior to joining Irell, Stephen clerked for the Honorable Sandra S. Ikuta of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Stephen earned his J.D., with highest honors, from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as comments editor for The University of Chicago Law Review. While in law school, Stephen worked as an extern in the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.


  • Finjan Inc. v. Juniper Networks Inc. Served as a member of the Irell team that convinced the Federal Circuit to affirm Juniper’s victories against Finjan in cybersecurity patent litigation. In October 2020, the Federal Circuit upheld a jury’s finding that Juniper did not infringe a malware detection patent held by Finjan, and also affirmed summary judgment rulings in Juniper’s favor.
  • Represented the developer of an agricultural “decision support” software platform in a multi-million dollar arbitration trial against a major agricultural company.
  • Secured an appellate victory dismissing an antitrust case against a major talent agency alleging that the agency had conspired to fix prices and engage in a boycott of smaller talent agencies, thereby affecting the market for the licensing of scripted television series.
  • Represented a major California grower in appellate litigation related to a union decertification election and alleged unfair labor practices, in which the grower prevailed in the California Court of Appeal.
  • Represented film studios in a class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
  • Represented a technology company in a multi-patent action in the ITC related to tactile feedback technologies.

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized on the list of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch (2021)


  • “Let's Be Reasonable: Controlling Self-Help Discovery in False Claims Act Suits,” 81 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1297 (2014)


University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 2015), highest honors; Comments editor, The University of Chicago Law Review

University of Notre Dame (B.A., Political Science, 2012), summa cum laude


  • California
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


  • Hon. Sandra S. Ikuta, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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