Michael Harbour represents clients in complex civil disputes. His practice spans diverse areas of law, including class action defense, media and entertainment litigation, intellectual property disputes, and securities litigation. Michael also has an active appellate practice. He has represented clients in precedent setting appeals in cases before the United States Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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.


  • Peter v. NantKwest, Inc., 589 U.S. ____ (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.
  • Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), 23 Cal.App.5th 1129 (2018). Obtained vacatur of the California Agricultural Relations Board’s decision to block a union decertification election. The appellate court’s 138-page published decision 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). Prevailed in a Ninth Circuit appeal 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.
  • Rucho v. Common Cause, 139 S. Ct. 2484 (2019). Filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. in support of constitutional challenge to partisan gerrymandering schemes in Maryland and North Carolina.
  • Secured class decertification in a federal class action against a homeopathic and dietary supplement company alleging false advertising.
  • Obtained asylum for transgender woman who had fled persecution in Guatemala.
  • Representing a leading developer of semiconductor packaging technology in a patent licensing dispute.
  • Representing two film studios in a class action alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and seeking over $500 million in damages.


  • “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. Supreme Court
  • 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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