Photo of Gary  Zhao

Gary Zhao



Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, J.D., 2002

University of Michigan, B.A., 1999



Gary is an accomplished litigator. He defends clients in high-stakes business matters, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, false advertising, unfair competition, intellectual property, business fraud and other deceptive trade practices. His experience includes 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 Zhao grew up in China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, which enables him to explain complex American legal principles and business issues to Chinese clients. He is often a liaison for Chinese businesses, serving as outside litigation and corporate counsel for large publicly traded Chinese companies and their subsidiaries in America.

Gary serves as vice president and general counsel to the Organization of Chinese Americans of Chicago (OCA Chicago). He is the president of the Chinese American Bar Association. He was previously a co-chair of SmithAmundsen’s diversity committee and, in that role, was tasked with furthering diversity initiative for the firm and helps to ensure that all employees feel appreciated for the diverse perspectives they bring to the table.


  • Selected to the Illinois Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" list: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated
  • Recognized as "40 Illinois Attorney Under 40 to Watch" by the Law Bulletin in 2011
  • Selected as Asian American Bar Association Member of the Year, 2010
  • Selected to "Best Under 40" by Suburban Life Media: 2015
  • Selected to "Best Under 40" by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association: 2015
  • Awarded the Presidential Leadership Award by The Chinese American Bar Association: 2015
  • Received the Excellence in Law Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA): 2015

Memberships & Involvement

  • Member: SmithAmundsen Diversity Committee
  • Past President: Chinese American Bar Association (CABA) of Greater Chicago 2012 - 2015
  • Fellow: American Bar Foundation, inducted 2014
  • Past Vice President and General Counsel: Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Chicago, Pan- Asian Advocacy Organization
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA): Co-Chair, Litigation Committee, 2011-2016; At-Large Board of Governors, 2016-2018; Elected Treasurer, 2018-2019;
  • Asian American Bar Association, President Elect 2018, President 2019
  • Ambassador: American Bar Association’s Business Law Section 2010 to 2012 (now Business Law Fellows)


  • 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 counsel for a Chinese software company in defending a declaratory judgment action pending in the Northern District of Illinois
  • 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

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