John Lee joined the firm in Sept. 2020 and was recently elevated to partner. He represents clients in complex commercial litigation matters, including business disputes, trade secret lawsuits, and class actions. He was previously an associate at two multinational Am Law 100 firms and was a law clerk to Hon. Kenneth Lee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John earned his J.D. from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, cum laude, and his B.A. from Princeton University.
Before coming to Larson, you worked for two multinational Am Law 100 firms, what made you want to switch to a boutique?
Working at bigger firms was a great opportunity to get great training and develop my skill set. Still, something I experienced as time went on was an encouragement to specialize in specific types of cases. I recognize the value of developing specific expertise and becoming really good at a particular thing. But for me personally, I didn’t find that type of practice and specialization to be as interesting. One of the draws of working at Larson is the firm’s generalist mindset and a great opportunity to work on a wide breadth of different cases, which I find to be vastly more interesting on a day-to-day basis.
What drew you to Larson?
The diversity of cases was a part of it, but probably the biggest part was the people. As I got to know everybody it quickly became clear that this is a firm that’s not just filled with really good attorneys, but also really good people. It’s unique to find such a concentration of both great lawyers and great people, and at the end of the day for me, it’s the people that drive the experience.
What is unique about your approach to litigation? Why do clients come to you?
I’ve been able to branch out into new areas of law that I hadn’t had as much experience with before, and I’ve been able to work on a lot of new and interesting types of cases. That has been a primary part of my evolution in applying the skills I’ve developed over time to new areas. One of the firm’s philosophies is that if you’re a litigator you should be able to litigate and try any type of case, and I’ve seen that borne out in practice here since the first day I arrived.
How have you seen your practice evolve while being at Larson?
Referencing what I mentioned before, one of the best parts of the practice here is the diversity of cases I’ve gotten to work on. For me, I’ve been able to branch out into new areas of law that I hadn’t had much experience with before, and I’ve been able to work on a lot of new and interesting types of cases such as tax matters, insurance matters, or white collar matters. For me, that has been a primary evolution just being able to apply the skills I’ve developed over time to new areas. One of Stephen Larson’s philosophies is that if you’re a litigator you should be able to try and litigate any type of case, and I think that’s proven true for the practice at this firm.
What do you consider to be your most significant trial victory so far?
My most meaningful trial outcome was in a pro bono case representing a transgender inmate in federal prison. To me, that case more than any other taught me how our clients define victory. For this particular client, the most important thing was just having an opportunity to tell her story in a court of law before a jury. There were many obstacles getting there, but ultimately she was still able to testify to that jury and have her voice heard despite still being imprisoned. The client considered that alone to represent a tremendous outcome, and wrote a multi-page handwritten letter thanking our team for providing that opportunity. That drove home to me that you have to be really mindful and put yourself in a given client’s shoes to know what result will ultimately be considered a success.
What is one thing about you that someone wouldn’t learn by looking at your professional bio?
You might actually be able to tell from my bio because I have a reference to it, but I’m a huge basketball fan and have been since I was a kid. Whether it be playing, watching, listening to podcasts, or reading about basketball—I love it all. I live in L.A., but I’ve stayed true to my Chicago roots and have not gone to the dark side with the Lakers. MJ will always be the GOAT!
John Lee is an accomplished litigator who has represented clients across a wide range of high-stakes cases in both state and federal courts. His extensive experience covers commercial and business disputes, class actions, trade secret lawsuits, securities cases, other complex civil disputes, and white collar matters. John represents both plaintiffs and defendants, including Fortune 500 companies, local businesses, and individuals. At every stage of litigation, John obtains successful results for his clients.
Download a printable PDF version of John’s Q&A here.