406. Pursuing Career Paths in the Judiciary

DATE: Saturday, July 22, 2017      TIME: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
LOCATION: USPTO, 1st floor, California Room

How do you become an administrative patent judge or a state or federal trial judge? How do you get to serve on committees that vet judges? Insiders share their various paths to becoming judges or selecting them.

No CLE credit will be provided for this panel.


Bijal V. Vakil

Partner, White & Case LLP

Bijal V. Vakil serves as the Executive Partner in charge of the Firm's Silicon Valley office. He is an intellectual property partner whose practice focuses on intellectual property litigation, strategic counseling, and technology licensing. He has represented clients in intellectual property cases in numerous district courts, the International Trade Commission and before the Federal Circuit. Mr. Vakil has litigated patent cases involving a wide spectrum of technologies, including plasma television, digital and analog integrated circuits, semiconductor manufacturing, software, computer systems, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Mr. Vakil handles significant matters for entities of all sizes ranging from Fortune 500 companies to Silicon Valley start-ups. He also represents clients in patent negotiations and licensing. Companies around the world frequently call upon Mr. Vakil to assist with overall intellectual property strategy and litigation.

Mr. Vakil has held leadership positions in several bar associations and non-profit organizations. He serves as a Mediator in the United States District Court, Northern District of California's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. He also was selected by the judges of the United States District Court, Northern District of California as the co-chair of the Lawyer's Representative Committee (2013-2014).

Mr. Vakil has been recognized by the legal and business communities. He is the recipient of the 2010 "Best Lawyers Under 40" award from the National Asian Pacific Bar Association. He has also been named among the "40 Under 40 People to Watch in 2008" by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. He also served on the State Bar Committee on Federal Courts (2005-2008). He frequently speaks on legal topics of interest to the community. Mr. Vakil has been recently quoted in various business and technology publications including: Forbes, The Wall Street Journal/WSJ.com, Los Angeles Times, CNN Money, San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal (various articles), CIO Magazine, The Recorder (various articles), InfoWorld, Corporate Counsel Magazine, Los Angeles Daily Journal (various articles), Fast Company, India Business Journal, PC Magazine, E-Commerce Times, All Things Digital, Low-Power Engineering, San Jose Mercury News, Law360 and Handelsblatt. He was also recently featured on the BBC and Craig Peterson's Tech Talk Radio Show. He also devotes his time to pro bono matters, and serves on the Firm's Diversity Committee.

Mr. Vakil served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to the Honorable James N. Barr of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. Mr. Vakil is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of the State of California, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Eastern District of Texas and all of the US district courts in California. He previously served as a Judge Pro Tempore for the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Mr. Vakil was founder and former chair of the Taiwan Practice Group.


Hon. Lucy Koh

District Judge, U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California

Copy of Lucy Koh photo.jpg

President Obama appointed Judge Lucy Koh to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in June 2010. Governor Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California Superior Court for the County of Santa Clara in January 2008. She was formerly a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, where her colleagues and she litigated the In re Seagate Technology case, in which the Federal Circuit overturned the 24 year old standard for willful patent infringement. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Major Frauds Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. A jury instruction from one of her trials is a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Model Criminal Jury instruction. She received an award from then FBI Director Louis Freeh for prosecuting a major securities fraud case. She served in Washington, D.C. as a Special Assistant to Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a Women's Law and Public Policy Fellow on Senator Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee staff. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard.

Nanci Nishimura

Principal, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP

Nanci E. Nishimura is a Principal at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP where she practices civil litigation focusing on antitrust, business litigation and consumer class actions. Ms. Nishimura received a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. Following a career in the United States and Japan as a business development and marketing consultant, she received her J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She worked at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the International Trade Commission and served as a Legislative Analyst to Senator Daniel Inouye.

Ms. Nishimura's experience in civil and criminal appellate litigation includes First and Fourth Amendment and civil rights. She wrote the brief on the merits and appeared before the United States Supreme Court in Hanlon v. Berger, 526 U.S. 808 (1999). She co-authored, "An Invasion of Privacy: The Media's Involvement in Law Enforcement Activities," 19 Loy. L.A. Ent. L.J. 313 (1999). Published cases, among others, include Berger v. CNN Inc., 188 F.3d 1155 (9th Cir. 1999); Ayeni v. Mottola, 35 F.3d 680 (2d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 US 1062 (1995), aff'g Ayeni v. CBS Inc., 848 F. Supp. 362 (E.D.N.Y. 1994); Brunette v. Humane Society of Ventura County, 294 F.3d 1205 (9th Cir. 2002); Aquila, Inc. v. Superior Court, 148 Cal. App. 4th 556 (2007); Regents of University of California v. Superior Court, 165 Cal. App. 4th 672 (2008).

She was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the 11 member Commission on Judicial Performance (2011-2015); formerly served on the State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission (JNE) for the 2005-2008 term; on the Board of Governors and first Vice President for the California Women Lawyers (District 3). She is also a member of the San Mateo and Los Angeles County Bar Associations, Consumer Attorneys of California, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the American Bar Foundation. She is a frequent lecturer for California Women Lawyers, and past member of the LACBA Litigation Section Trial Practice Inn of Court.

Ms. Nishimura is on the Board of Trustees of the California Science Center Foundation, a joint state-private facility to created to promote science education throughout California, and past president of the Board of Directors of The MUSES of the California Science Center Foundation. She is a frequent speaker to promote science and math education in California. In addition, she is on the Board of Trustees of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco; the Rotary Club of San Mateo; and the creator of Storytime for Children with Abby Rabbit, an interactive reading and development program for children.

Judge, Santa Clara Superior Court

Hon. Erica R. Yew

Judge Erica R. Yew has served on the Santa Clara County Superior Court since 2001, where she currently presides over a trial calendar in its Civil Division. Appointed by the California Supreme Court to the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2010, Judge Yew has served as the Commission's chairperson since October 2013. She also serves on the Judicial Council's Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness and the California Commission on Access to Justice. Judge Yew received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law.

Hon. Christa Zado

Administrative Patent Judge, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (USPTO)

The Hon. Christa Zado is an Administrative Patent Judge at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in the Silicon Valley office.  She earned her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.  Prior to her appointment in July 2014, Judge Zado served as Senior Corporate Counsel of Global IP at Cisco Systems, Inc., and as a private practitioner litigating patents at Fish & Neave and Ropes & Gray.