Gary Zhao


Gary is a member of SmithAmundsen’s Complex Commercial Litigation Practice Group. He represents clients in complex business litigation matters, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, false advertising, unfair competition, intellectual property, business fraud and other deceptive trade practices. Gary also has significant experience defending clients who are subject to regulatory investigations undertaken by various state and federal government agencies, including Illinois Attorney General, Homeland Security, National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and the FDA. Gary has extensive litigation experience in federal courts. He has litigated a wide range of business cases in federal courts in Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Virginia, and Georgia.

Gary also brings to the service of his clients his unique bi-cultural and bi-lingual background. He grew up in China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. His understanding of the Chinese language and culture enables him to explain complex American legal principles and business issues in a language and manner that is easy for his Chinese clients to understand.  He has served as outside litigation and corporate counsel for large publicly traded Chinese companies and their subsidiaries in America.

Representative Cases:

  • National coordinating counsel for a major food processing and packaging company in connection with FDA recall of a thickening agent.
  • Lead counsel in defense of a trademark and copyright infringement suit. Obtained attorney’s fees for client after obtaining a summary judgment on all claims brought against the client by the plaintiff.
  • Lead attorney in prosecuting a breach of a commercial lease agreement on behalf of a large real estate and financial services company against a large cable television operator, obtained significant recovery through settlement;
  • Lead attorney in defending a $38 million dollar false online advertising suit in the Northern District of Illinois, won a major forum non conveniens motion, obtained very favorable settlement for client;
  • Outside general corporate counsel for a U.S. subsidiary of a publicly held Chinese manufacturer of electrical equipment; and
  • Lead litigation counsel for a publicly traded Chinese bulk vitamin manufacturer and its U.S. distributor facing a products liability suit in Cook County, Illinois.

Prior to joining SmithAmundsen, Gary worked for two years as a judicial law clerk for Presiding Justice Mary W. McDade of the Illinois Appellate Court. In 2012, Gary received the “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, representing recognition of legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability and legal experience by his peers. He has also been recognized in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 as a "Rising Star*" in business litigation by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine. Gary was also recognized in 2011 as one of Law Bulletin’s 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch. In 2010, he was appointed to serve a two year term as an Ambassador of ABA’s Business Law Section. He currently co-chairs National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Litigation Committee and is the president of the Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago.

Gary has served as a pro bono attorney for Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago’s Chinatown legal clinic and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

*The selection of attorneys to the Rising Stars list does not guarantee a positive client outcome in any specific legal matter or engagement nor constitute a representation by the firm of SmithAmundsen about the caliber of legal work performed by any other attorney not selected as part of this list.

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