Michael Harbour represents clients in complex civil disputes. His practice spans diverse areas of law, including complex commercial litigation, antitrust, intellectual property disputes, and securities litigation. Michael has experience in all stages of litigation and recently served as one of the lead counsel in a high-stakes confidential arbitration hearing involving computer imaging technology. He has also represented clients in precedent-setting appeals in courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Prior to joining Irell, Michael clerked for the Hon. Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He currently serves on the firm’s Hiring Committee and is co-chair of the Summer Committee.


  • Intel Corporation et al v. Fortress Investment Group LLC et al., 5:19-cv-07651 (N.D. Cal.). Representing Fortress Investment Group LLC and VLSI Technology LLC in a high-stakes antitrust claim brought by Intel Corporation and Apple Inc., purporting to challenge defendants’ business model. After obtaining a complete discovery stay, defendants prevailed on three motions to dismiss, the final one resulting in dismissal with prejudice. This case was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the top defense verdicts in California in 2021.
  • Peter v. NantKwest, Inc., 140 S. Ct. 365; (2019). Represented NantKwest in a successful appeal before the United States Supreme Court challenging the Patent and Trademark Office’s ability to recover attorneys’ fees in suits brought under Section 145 of the Patent Act. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Section 145 did not authorize the PTO to collect attorneys’ fees.
  • Irving Firemen’s Relief & Retirement Fund v. Uber Technologies Inc., et al., 4:17-cv-05558 (N.D. Cal.). Secured a dismissal with prejudice in a securities fraud class action brought against Uber seeking billions of dollars in damages. The case was one of the first of its kind, brought under California’s market manipulation statute. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit later affirmed the district court's dismissal in a published, precedent-setting decision. 
  • Fowler Packing Company, Inc. v. Lanier, 844 F.3d 809 (2016). Prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which the court held that two employers could bring an equal protection challenge to a California statute that precluded them from raising an affirmative defense to wage and hour claims afforded to other employers. The Daily Journal recognized this case as one of the “Top Appellate Reversals” of 2016.
  • Represented a leading developer of semiconductor packaging technology in a patent licensing dispute. The case settled favorably after the court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment.
  • Secured class decertification in a federal class action against a homeopathic and dietary supplement company alleging false advertising.
  • Represented two film studios in a class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and seeking over $500 million in damages.
  • Obtained asylum for transgender woman who had fled persecution in Guatemala.

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized on the list of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch (2023-2024)
  • Named to the Southern California Rising Stars list (2022-2023)


  • “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. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth and Federal Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court


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