Susan Kay Leader is a partner in the Complex Litigation and Arbitration practice of Paul Hastings and is based in the firm’s Century City office. Ms. Leader litigates and tries cases in high-stakes commercial matters and class actions in federal and state courts. She has chaired more than a dozen trials, arbitrations, and international arbitrations and has represented clients in a variety of industries, including entertainment and media, hospitality, funds, and renewable energy sectors. Ms. Leader’s broad base of experience includes handling a wide variety of commercial litigation matters, employment disputes, products liability disputes, franchise law violations, False Claims Act, and RICO and Sherman Act violations.
Ms. Leader is a sought-after instructor in trial advocacy, frequently lecturing in southern California and overseas.
- The Hollywood Reporter, “Power Lawyers 2023: Hollywood’s Top 100 Attorneys List”
- Los Angeles Business Journal, “Top Litigators & Trial Lawyers” (2019, 2021)
- Los Angeles Business Journal, “Thriving in Their 40s” (2020)
- BTI Consulting Group, “Client Service All-Stars” (2020)
- Los Angeles Business Journal, “Most Influential Women Lawyers” (2019)
- The Legal 500 US, General Commercial Disputes (2019-2020)
- University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 2001
- Vanderbilt University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1997
- Representing a renewable energy company and its affiliate in a contract dispute arising out of the company’s acquisition of renewable energy projects. The complaint brings a claim for breach of contract under New York law, alleging that it failed to use commercially reasonable efforts to accomplish certain development milestones and therefore owes approximately $70 million. The complaint also brings equitable claims under New York law, alleging that the milestone date that triggers the $70 million payment should be revised to reflect the IRS’s extension of a tax credit safe harbor expiration date.
- Representing a major talent agency in a force majeure dispute regarding the cancellation of a music festival that was scheduled to take place in June 2020 in Los Angeles. Secured summary judgment victory on all causes of action, which concerned whether the talent agency's artists were entitled to keep their performance guarantees under the applicable force majeure provision in their contracts.
- Representing a battery manufacturer in a contract dispute arising out of a settlement agreement that it reached with its customer after the operator for the electricity market for the customer’s projects dramatically changed its signal, resulting in severe damage to the batteries.
- Representing a sports entertainment entity and related affiliates in a contract dispute concerning confidentiality obligations and the advancement of litigation fees. Secured victory on all claims in an appeal which addressed the California Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction to consider judgments confirming partial arbitration awards.
- Representing a large global manufacturer of N95 respirator masks for use in the COVID-19 pandemic in a lawsuit filed against defendants under the Lanham Act, alleging counterfeit sales using our client’s name in masks supplied to hospitals and other first responders.
- Representing a large hotel owner and developer in a civil RICO action against a competing developer for leveraging CEQA and the inherent delays associated with CEQA litigation to extort millions of dollars and other costly concessions.
- In partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, representing an Alabama inmate who survived a violent attack in St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springfield, Alabama, in seeking damages for violating his constitutional rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
- Counseling a leading telecommunications company in various employment-related matters, including an employment class action suit alleging independent contractor misclassification.
- Representing a class of over 20,000 foster youth in a high-profile effort to hold Los Angeles County to the terms of a groundbreaking 2003 consent decree mandating the provision of sufficient home- and community-based mental health services.
- Representing a premier global investment management firm in a lawsuit concerning a dispute between a portfolio company and its former officers.
- Representing a Korean fashion company in a high-profile fraud action relating to a music video scam.
- Representing a lifestyle and entertainment brand in a litigation against a cryptocurrency technology company alleging fraud, breach of contract, and unauthorized use of intellectual property.
- Representing a premier hotel owner and developer in litigation against unions alleging RICO, Sherman Act, and Labor Management Relations Act violations based on a pattern of sham litigation, extortion, threats, and intimidation.
- Representing a Chinese company engaged in film financing, distribution, and production in various disputes related to film production. These include an engagement relating to a joint production agreement for a Chinese film. Achieved a favorable result and an award of significant damages to the client.
- Serving as litigation panel counsel for a large oil refinery company in a variety of disputes, including those related to the Petroleum Franchise Act and breach-of-contract litigation.
Matters may have been completed before joining Paul Hastings.
Engagement & Publications
- Co-author with S. Mancall-Bitel and A. Rabbani, “Litigation or Arbitration? Seven Factors to Consider,” American Bar Association Litigation Section, Vol. 37, No. 1, Winter 2023
- Co-author with J. Rubin, “With Global Court Backlogs, Parties May Turn to Arbitration to Resolve Pandemic-Related Disputes,” The Impact Lawyer, April 2020
- Co-author with J. Slowik and S. Kim, “9th circuit ensuring federal courts remain open for class action defendants,” Daily Journal, September 17, 2019
- Co-author with B.M. Manisco and K.W. Chin, “Planning for the Worst,” China Law & Practice, September 4, 2018
- Co-author with P.I. Altman, E.E. Abshez, and K.A. Handschumacher, “An Uneasy Relationship: The SEC and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act,” Bloomberg BNA’s Securities Regulation & Law Report, February 13, 2017
Select Speaking Engagements
- “Jury Selection Workshop: The Most Important Work that Happens Before Opening Statement,” September 2022
- “Examination of Witnesses,” Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Trial Advocacy Program, August 2022
- “Arbitration 101,” in-house client presentations, December 2017 and January 2018
- “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace,” in-house client presentation, August 2017
- Past President, Association of Business Trial Lawyers
- Member, Complex Court Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Member, Board of Directors, Western Center on Law & Poverty
- Instructor, National Institute for Trial Advocacy
- Instructor, one-week pilot program in trial advocacy, Public Defender’s Office, Lagos, Nigeria