Judge Grewal Leaves|Bench to Join Facebook

     SAN JOSE (CN) — After juggling a dense docket of technology patent cases for six years, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal is trading his black robe for a high-profile post on Facebook’s legal team.
     The Silicon Valley judge will retire from the bench on June 3 to become Facebook’s vice president and deputy general counsel for worldwide litigation.
     Grewal has presided over class actions involving Google and other tech giants, hashed out discovery disputes for Apple v. Samsung and other patent cases, and handled hundreds of criminal and civil rights cases.
     “He’s had to deal with basically everything Facebook will probably see,” Grewal’s former colleague Mansi Shah with the Valorem Law Group said. “They’ve gotten lucky. He’s going to be an asset to them in ways they probably don’t even know yet.”
     Grewal graduated from MIT with a Bachelor of Science before earning his law degree at the University of Chicago. He worked on commercial litigation at Pillsbury Madison and focused on intellectual property, patent trials and appeals as an attorney with Day Casebeer Batchelder & Madrid.
     Grewal’s background in science and engineering and his firm grasp on intellectual property law led many Silicon Valley attorneys to agree to have him hear their patent cases.
     “I think he’s established himself as one of the leading patent judges in Northern California,” said Neel Chaterjee, with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, who worked with Grewal at the South Asian Bar Association of North America. “He’s gotten a very high number of consent cases. I think that’s a real testament to people’s confidence in his ability to arrive at fair and thoughtful conclusions.”
     Grewal’s fellow U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins said Grewal has wide-ranging expertise.
     “He has great strengths beyond intellectual property,” Cousins said. “He has many hundreds of cases that are not involving intellectual property. Many of my interactions with him are outside of that, as magistrate judges handling criminal cases.”
     And Grewal has kept his fellow judges up to date through his work on the National Magistrate Judges Committee, Cousins said.
     Grewal is one of the few federal judges with a Twitter account, where he regularly tweets about his hometown’s sports teams, the Cleveland Browns and Cavaliers.
     “His absence will be felt deeply, not just by the litigants but by his colleagues, because he’s a joy to be around,” Cousins said. “I know we’ll find no one with as much knowledge on the Cleveland Browns.”
     Grewal also made sure young attorneys get the chance to strengthen their skills at oral arguments. In March, he issued a ruling in a patent case involving microchips, ordering both parties to let younger attorneys argue at least two of their six post-trial motions.
     “Who will try the technology cases of the future, when so few opportunities to develop courtroom skills appear?” Grewal wrote in his March 9 ruling.
     Shah, who was mentored by Grewal when her law firm, Howrey, merged with Grewal’s firm Day Casebeer in 2009, said Grewal understands the importance of giving young attorneys the chance to polish their courtroom skills.
     “He wants to make sure our profession has a pipeline of great attorneys in it,” Shah said.
     Aside from losing a judge with a great grasp of technology and patent law, Shah said, Grewal’s departure comes as somewhat of a blow to the South Asian community.
     Grewal previously served as president of the South Asian Bar Association — North America and the South Asian Bar Association – Northern California.
     South Asians are one of the least-represented minority groups on the federal judiciary, according to the Center for American Progress.
     “For the South Asian Bar, it’s a judge loss,” Shah said. “We don’t have too many, but we’re growing in numbers.”
     When Grewal clerked for retired Federal Circuit Appeals Court Judge Arthur Gajarsa about 15 years ago, Gajarsa said he knew Grewal was destined for great things.
     “I always knew he would go on to do bigger and better things,” Gajarsa said. “As a judge, you always hired people you knew were smarter than you, and they made you look good.”
     Gajarsa said Grewal has a calling for public service and he may return to the courts as a higher-ranking judge some day.
     He said the pay scale for a district court judge, around $200,000 per year, doesn’t compare with the earning potential for a private sector attorney, especially in Silicon Valley.
     “I think Paul stepping down from the court is a big loss to the federal system,” Gajarsa said. “He was essentially one of the best that they had. Attracting people of Paul’s character to the bench is very important.”

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