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Irell Elects Four New Partners, Promotes One Counsel


Photo montage of Lauren Drake, Yite John Lu, Amy Proctor, Kamran Vakili and Annita Zhong.

Irell & Manella LLP announces the election of Lauren Drake, Yite John Lu, Amy Proctor and Annita Zhong to the firm's partnership and the promotion of Kamran Vakili to counsel, effective January 1, 2019. All five are litigators. Drake, Lu, Proctor and Zhong are based in the firm’s Los Angeles office, while Vakili is in Newport Beach.

“We couldn’t be more proud to welcome Lauren, John, Amy and Annita to the firm’s partnership and to promote Kamran as counsel,” said David Gindler, Irell’s managing partner. “These are truly exceptional individuals, both personally and professionally, who embrace the culture of excellence for which our firm has long been known.”

Drake focuses on intellectual property and patent litigation, including patent post-grant proceedings. She has deep experience representing clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She was named to the Southern California Rising Stars list in 2018.

Drake earned her J.D., summa cum laude, from Loyola Law School, where she was a Sayre Macneil Scholar, as well as Order of the Coif and a member of St. Thomas More Law Honor Society. She earned her B.S., with high honors, in biochemistry and molecular biology from University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lu focuses on life sciences patent litigation, including patent post-grant proceedings. In biosimilar and small-molecule generic litigation, he has helped clients maintain exclusivity for drug products with billions of dollars in annual sales. Lu earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was notes editor for the Yale Law Journal and executive editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Technology. He earned his doctor of pharmacy, with highest distinction, from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

While in law school, Lu was an extern for Judge John T. Noonan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and he interned for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. Before joining Irell, Lu clerked for Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Prior to his legal career, he worked in pharmaceutical marketing. Lu speaks Mandarin Chinese and has given seminars to Chinese attorneys on U.S. intellectual property law. He is a fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and chair of the board of directors for the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. 

Proctor helps clients manage and resolve patent infringement disputes across a broad range of technologies, including computer architecture, signal transmission, renewable energy, and pharmaceuticals. Her expertise includes patent litigation and contested patent office proceedings, particularly inter partes reviews, at all stages from pre-litigation through trial and appeal. She was named to the Southern California Rising Stars list in 2017-2018.

Proctor earned her J.D. from USC Gould School of Law, where she was a member of Order of the Coif and earned the Arthur Manella Scholarship and the Malcolm Lucas Award. She earned her B.S. in physics, cum laude, from the University of Florida, where her research focused on using microelectromechanical systems to measure quantum forces. Before joining Irell, Proctor clerked for Judge John A. Kronstadt of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.   

Vakili focuses on intellectual property law, particularly patent litigation, asset creation and strategic counseling. He has worked closely with a variety of U.S.-based and international clients to develop, manage and protect global patent portfolios. He has extensive experience prosecuting patent applications before the USPTO, as well as representing plaintiffs and defendants in litigation before state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Vakili earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as a member of the Fordham Law Review. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in physics from Princeton University, where he studied self-organizing behaviors of electrons in two dimensions, and received his B.S. in physics, with honors, from the California Institute of Technology.

Zhong focuses on patent post-grant proceedings, patent litigation and licensing. She has deep experience handling inter partes review proceedings before the PTAB, where she has an extraordinary track record of success. She has also litigated patent and trade-secret-related cases before federal and state courts, the International Trade Commission, and arbitral panels. Her experience spans technologies such as semiconductor fabrication and packaging, computer architecture, telecommunication network, wireless communication, standard essential patents, chemistry and materials. She also advises regarding the evaluation and exploration of patent portfolios. She was named to the Southern California Rising Stars list in 2018.

Zhong earned her J.D. from Yale Law School, her Ph.D. in chemistry from California Institute of Technology, and her B.S. in chemistry and chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before attending law school, Zhong worked as a senior research scientist. She is a co-author and co-inventor on peer-reviewed journal articles and issued patents.

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