Bloomberg Law
July 28, 2022, 9:00 AM

They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40 - Amy Proctor of Irell & Manella

Lisa Helem
Lisa Helem
Executive Editor
Kibkabe Araya
Kibkabe Araya
Special Projects Assistant Editor

Please describe two of your most substantial, recent wins in practice.
After a one-week delay while we and the state of Texas weathered a historic ice storm, our team won a $2.175 billion verdict for VLSI Technology against Intel for its infringement of two innovative patents. Those patents have made nearly a billion of Intel’s processors faster and more energy efficient, thereby generating enormous value. I presented our lead damages expert at trial to show how our requested damages were just a portion of that value.

I also recently represented Vestas, a worldwide leader in wind energy, in a suit brought by GE. GE accused Vestas of infringing two patents, and Vestas counterclaimed. Ultimately, after we persuaded the Patent and Trial Appeal Board to institute inter partes reviews, or IPRs, on both of GE’s patents, and the district court to stay GE’s case, we achieved an amicable settlement.

What is the most important lesson you learned as a first-year attorney and how does it inform your practice today?
Credibility is vital. At the very outset of my career, I saw while clerking how quickly lawyers could lose credibility. And once it’s gone, it doesn’t matter what you say; you’ve lost your power to persuade. On the other hand, when you have credibility on your side, you can make an impact. That lesson has been so important to my practice over the years. Taking credible positions, making credible arguments, and presenting credible witnesses has been fundamental to my teams’ success at every stage of litigation.

How do you define success in your practice?
Success means solving my clients’ problems. Sometimes that can take a classic form, like winning at trial, but other times it takes a different form, like avoiding litigation in the first instance or negotiating a settlement at a critical moment. I also love solving clients’ smaller, day-to-day problems by learning how my work fits into their business. By defining my goals based on my client’s goals, not any preconceived, one-size-fits-all approach, I get to learn the ins and outs of my clients’ businesses and work their unique considerations into my litigation strategy in a way that is responsive to their changing needs.

What are you most proud of as a lawyer?
I am proud of a lot of the work Irell does, and the way we do it, but some of my proudest moments are those when I have watched my mentees grow and succeed. Mentoring more junior lawyers has always been a big part of my practice, and it is so rewarding now that I have been practicing long enough to see my mentees leading their own cases through to outstanding results. Seeing them develop from summer associates to senior associates and even partners, and then mentor more junior attorneys themselves, energizes and reaffirms my commitment. Irell has a great tradition and practice of mentorship stemming from the highest levels in our firm, and I am proud to play a part in that.

Who is your greatest mentor in the law and what have they taught you?
Over the years, I have had many incredible mentors, chief among them the legendary Morgan Chu. Morgan has taught me so many lessons, but two that stand out are the power of storytelling and the magic of fun. Often my work with Morgan relates to patents on complex technology, but that complexity never stops Morgan from finding the human story. Every case has a story to tell—of inventors, of competition, of the technology’s impact—and those stories have power because they allow us to draw in and connect with our audiences. Equally compelling is the magic of fun. Audiences can sense the authenticity that shines through when lawyers enjoy what they do, and Morgan always shines. He has taught me the magic of fostering an environment where everyone is having fun and shining in their own way.

Just for fun, tell us your two favorite songs on your summer music playlist.
“About Damn Time,” by Lizzo, because it’s the summer of Lizzo! Also, “Keep Ya Head Up,” by 2Pac, because unfortunately it’s also the summer of Supreme Court oppression.

Amy Proctor has developed an expertise in proving patent damages in high-stakes cases. She co-manages her firm’s Technical Analysis Laboratory, an in-house scientific facility that helps lawyers and scientists investigate infringement and validity claims. A member of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, she co-chairs its legislation committee where she is working to expand paid family leave and address racial inequality in the criminal justice system.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Helem at; Kibkabe Araya in Washington at

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