Print PDF News

Irell Adds Former Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley


Irell & Manella LLP announced today that former federal judge Kathleen O’Malley is joining the firm’s Washington, D.C. office as of counsel. Prior to joining Irell, O’Malley most recently served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit until her retirement in March 2022. Her practice will include litigation consulting involving a broad range of subject matters, all forms of alternative dispute resolution, and intellectual property policy work.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Judge O’Malley to the firm,” said Jonathan Kagan, a member of Irell’s Executive Committee. “Her background as both an appellate and district court judge makes her a tremendously valuable asset to the firm’s clients, not just in the IP arena but across multiple areas of litigation, dispute resolution, and IP policy. Judge O’Malley will also help us expand our D.C. presence.”

O’Malley was a federal judge for more than 27 years. She was appointed to the Federal Circuit in 2010, after serving on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio since 1994. O’Malley is the first former district court judge to be appointed to the Federal Circuit. In addition to her patent expertise, O’Malley also has substantial experience with other IP issues—copyright, trademark, trade secret, and the intersection of IP and antitrust—and with other areas of federal law, including securities fraud, tax matters, and multi-district litigation.

O’Malley has received numerous awards over her career. For her contributions to the development of IP law alone, she has received accolades including the Sedona Conference Lifetime Achievement Award, the New Jersey Intellectual Property Law Association Jefferson Medal, the New York Intellectual Property Law Association Outstanding Public Service Award and the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s Distinguished IP Professional Award. She was also inducted into the IAM IP Hall of Fame by Intellectual Asset Management. Additionally, the Kathleen M. O’Malley Inn of Court was recently chartered in Cleveland, Ohio, as a tribute to O’Malley’s service.

O’Malley regularly lectures on various IP topics, including the importance of IP to innovation and the importance of innovation to the economy, and has trained judges, lawyers and stakeholders on the U.S. IP system in over a dozen countries around the world. She is the only U.S. representative on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Judicial Advisory Council and has been involved in many WIPO sponsored projects and programs. O’Malley is also a senior adviser for the Renewing American Innovation Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the excellent team of lawyers at Irell,” said O’Malley. “Their reputation for excellence is well deserved. I also look forward to working with Andrei Iancu to help grow the D.C. office, using my background and experience to consult with and serve the firm’s clients, and working to help protect and improve the IP system in the United States.”

In addition to her judicial duties, O’Malley has been involved in numerous projects relating to the intersection of science and the law. At the invitation of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Federal Judicial Center, O’Malley served on the Committee on the Development of the Third edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. She also recently co-chaired a planning committee for a workshop titled, “Emerging Areas of Science, Engineering, and Medicine for the Courts,” that explored legal questions relating to climate change, the ethical and IP implications of AI, implicit bias, computer science and engineering, among other cutting-edge issues.

Prior to becoming a judge, O’Malley served as the first assistant and chief of staff to the Ohio Attorney General and was in private practice where she litigated complex commercial cases, including IP matters. She began her legal career as a law clerk to the Hon. Nathaniel R. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She earned her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and her Economics and Honors History from Kenyon College. She also received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Kenyon.

“Irell has always focused on attracting the best lawyers in the country in order to serve clients at the highest levels of the profession,” said Morgan Chu, chair of Irell’s Litigation practice group. “Judge O’Malley is a natural fit in the firm’s long tradition of excellence.”

Irell opened its D.C. office in September 2021. In addition to O’Malley and Iancu, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the office also includes Michael Fleming, the former chief administrative judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and Philip Warrick, a former associate solicitor for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Jump to Page