James M. Whitelaw possesses both a strong legal and engineering background that is an important asset to the firm and its clients. Mr. Whitelaw’s extensive trial and litigation experience with diverse matters has distinguished him as a talented litigator with a winning track record.

Mr. Whitelaw’s legal practice was preceded by a ten-year career as an aeronautical engineer at both McDonnell Douglas Corporation and Grumman Aerospace Corporation. Mr. Whitelaw applies his in-depth understanding of complex technologies in patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation matters that span a broad range of technologies. His ability to quickly comprehend and communicate case intricacies in a simple way has been of substantial benefit in numerous jury trials, hearings and arbitrations.

Mr. Whitelaw has acted as a lead lawyer in a host of high-profile, high-stakes commercial litigation and intellectual property matters, as well as real estate construction and securities disputes. He is highly regarded by both clients and his team for both exceptional intellect and strategic thinking.

Mr. Whitelaw works closely to guide and train the associates at the firm, sharing both technical and legal insights. Prior to founding Thomas Whitelaw, Mr. Whitelaw was a partner in the Irvine office of McDermott Will & Emery, where he was a member of its Litigation and Trial Practice Group, with a focus on complex commercial and intellectual property matters.

Representative Cases

  • Pabban Development, Inc. v. Kyphon Sarl, et. al. (C.D. Cal.): Represent medical device inventor/developer on a breach of contract matter involving the sale of a patented bone cement delivery system used to treat vertebral compression fractures, resulting in a jury verdict and judgment of $15.4 million plus an award of attorneys’ fees, interest and costs of $8.5 million.
  • Duhn Oil Tool, Inc., v. Cooper Cameron (E.D. Cal.): Represented inventor in a patent infringement matter involving oil/gas extraction equipment technology, resulting in a favorable jury verdict in excess of $8.6 million.
  • Bird Products Corporation v. Pulmonetic Systems, Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Prosecuted and defended claims of patent infringement involving battery-operated portable respirators using embedded systems.
  • Inland Empire Foods v. Zateca Foods, Inc. (C.D. Cal.): Prosecuted claims of trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement involving food manufacturing technology.
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit District (B.A.R.T.) v. Tanforan Park Shopping Center (California Superior Court, San Mateo County): Prosecuted and defended claims of condemnation and severance damages in San Mateo County Superior Court, resulting in a favorable jury verdict in excess of $33 million.
  • Teachout v. S.P. Properties Inc. (California Superior Court, Los Angeles County): Defended class action and derivative partnership claims by the former limited partners of a California limited partnership against its general partner and a newly-formed, publicly traded real estate investment trust for breach of partnership agreement and breach of fiduciary duty, resulting in an order denying class certification and a favorable client settlement.
  • Food 4 Less of California v. Foothill Marketplace Partners (California Superior Court, Orange County): Defended declaratory relief claims brought by a lessee in a power shopping center against its developer/ landlord, concerning the parties’ obligations under a Communities Facilities District for the shopping center, resulting in a defense verdict for the client with an award of attorneys’ fees.

Practice Areas

Business, Intellectual Property, Product Liability, Real Estate and Construction Litigation


State Bar of California

United States Federal Courts

  • Central District of California
  • Eastern District of California
  • Northern District of California
  • Southern District of California

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

Professional Activities

Mr. Whitelaw is an active member in several professional organizations. In addition to his memberships in the Intellectual Property Law Sections of the State Bar of California and American Bar Association, Mr. Whitelaw was an Advisory Committee Member in Loyola Law School’s Special IP Focus Series Program.


JD, Loyola Law School with high honors
BS in Aerospace Engineering, State University of New York at Buffalo, cum laude
Honorary member in the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society