Interviewed by Kenny Matuszewski
Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s 40 Under Forty recognizes rising stars in the legal community. Past winners come from all practice areas and settings, including the government, private practice, and in-house. The one thing they all share is their commitment to excellence and dedication to the legal profession.
It’s incredibly rare to win the 40 Under Forty award. It’s almost unheard of for a married couple to both win it. But Jonathan and Olivia Bedi are no ordinary couple. They’re a dynamic duo who have been in perfect sync since law school.
Jonathan first met Olivia during his law school orientation at American University, where she served as one of the speakers. That orientation session was only the first of many times they were together in law school. During law school, Olivia originally thought she wanted to be a patent prosecutor since she worked as a Patent Examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office during the day. That all changed when she took a trial advocacy class, where she was able to try 3 civil and criminal cases with Jonathan. Already dating by that point, they had in-depth conversations about their coursework and case strategies long into the night. Partly due to their teamwork, Jonathan and Olivia graduated from law school at the same time: Olivia in the part-time evening division and Jonathan in the day program. Together, they took the bar exam and looked for jobs.
Olivia and Jonathan then moved to Chicago to start their careers. Olivia was an IP Litigation Associate at Latham & Watkins (“LW”), while Jonathan worked at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender (“Public Defender’s Office”). Both quickly made names for themselves. Olivia tried a high-profile murder and patent infringement matters at LW and then at Jenner & Block (“Jenner”); Jonathan successfully tried numerous cases as a Public Defender. They soon moved to different settings. Jonathan founded his own firm, Bedi & Singer, LLP. Olivia, wanting more first-chair trial experience, went to Niro Haller & Niro (“Niro”), a plaintiff’s side IP Litigation firm. It was at these firms where both Jonathan and Olivia won their 40 under Forty awards: Olivia in 2014, and Jonathan in 2018. Olivia was 36 years old when she won, Jonathan won just under the wire at 39 years old.
Currently, Jonathan handles a range of criminal matters including state and federal criminal matters, including mortgage and Medicare fraud, drug conspiracy and murder and other crimes of violence. He also defends athletes, religious leaders, and students who face sexual misconduct allegations. Olivia is now a partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg (“NGE”), where she is able to provide full-service intellectual property legal work to clients beyond litigation, including patent and trademark prosecution and corporate advice. They both enjoy their current roles because they are at general-practice firms. Being at general practice firms allows them to have completely different types of work, and more complicated cases
Along the way, both Jonathan and Olivia had a large number of mentors and sponsors who helped them become exceptional attorneys. For Olivia, this included Meredith “Mimi” Addy, a prominent IP attorney who has testified before Congress about the state of patent law, and Robert Byman, an intellectual and thoughtful partner at Jenner who not only worked with her on the high-profile murder trial but also complicated calculations regarding damages in a patent infringement case. Then, there was Paul Vickrey, now a partner at Vitale, Vickrey, Niro & Gasey, who was her battle partner in a trade dress infringement case. Now, Olivia says she is good friends with and learns from her partners at NGE, including Michael Kelber, Kevin May and Tonya Newman, each prominent in their own right and at the top of their respective fields.
Jonathan was mentored by many amazing lawyers while he was the Public Defender’s Office, who are too numerous to name. But his law partner at Bedi & Singer, LLP, Dena Singer, helped him own his craft as an excellent trial lawyer. Notably, Dena has been named a Leading Lawyer by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.
By applying the lessons they learned from their mentors, Olivia and Jonathan stood out from the crowd right away. When asked what she did to set herself apart from her peers, Olivia said she first strived to be a good lawyer. She also emphasized the importance of creating a brand. Over the past 14 years, Olivia has mentored law students and young attorneys–both male and female–inside and outside her firm. She also speaks on several panels and always makes time to have coffee with younger attorneys. While such work doesn’t generate dollars, she finds it helps the community as a whole, and makes the job more enjoyable, particularly for female attorneys. According to Olivia, if women feel they are a part of the legal community, they will be more engaged with their work. This, in turn, allows for more women to climb the ranks and make partner at their respective firms. Ultimately, she found that as she got more senior, Olivia was able to build her practice, particularly at Jenner and Niro, which led to her winning her 40 Under Forty.
Jonathan was surprised when he found out he won his 40 Under Forty award. According to the public, criminal defense is not exciting or flashy. In fact, it’s very rare for government attorneys to win the 40 Under Forty award at all. Jonathan noted there is a long list of great attorneys at the Public Defender’s Office, he was humbled to receive the award partly for the work he did at the Public Defender’s Office. His reputation as a seasoned trial lawyer and an excellent advocate paid off when he won the award soon after founding Bedi & Singer, LLP. However, Olivia was surprised it took so long for Jonathan to be recognized for his efforts.
When asked what she would tell a younger version of herself, Olivia first advised that being a lawyer is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to not only put in the work required to be a good lawyer, but also to not get frustrated, to help clients achieve the best possible outcome, and to build a network. Jonathan emphasized the importance of preparing for all possible circumstances, not to inflate the importance of wins and to learn from both the wins and the losses. Additionally, the highs are not that high, and the lows are not that low.
Outside the office, the dynamic duo is in perfect sync with each other. They understand each other’s schedules, stresses, and have the utmost respect for their practices. Olivia and Jonathan go to each other for advice, and always love talking about their respective workdays. They have even practiced several opening and closing arguments with each other. Jonathan likes to joke about post-Bilski and Olivia argues whether a Monell claim can be asserted.
While Jonathan says he would have married Olivia no matter what, both he and Olivia love the fact that they are lawyers. While the legal profession can be difficult for families, Olivia is grateful to have a firm and peers that allow her to not only practice and be a partner, but also raise a family.
This last part has not gone unnoticed since their work as lawyers even plays a part in their parenting. When their kids ask for something, such as ice cream, Jonathan and Olivia will have them explain why they deserve it. While it may seem like good training for future lawyers, Olivia and Jonathan will support their children, no matter what they decide to be when they grow up. By loving each other for who they are, Jonathan and Olivia have allowed each other to not only become the best possible versions of themselves but also perform at the highest echelon of the legal profession.
About Olivia and Jonathan:
Olivia Luk Bedi
Olivia is a trusted advisor on civil litigation matters, especially regarding intellectual property. She has represented individuals and corporations across the country in complex technological matters. She helps clients protect, enforce, and defend intellectual property rights, including patents, trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks. An experienced trial lawyer, Olivia has litigated and tried significant cases before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and other federal courts around the country and has also briefed and argued patent appeals before the Federal Circuit. Before practicing law, Olivia spent five years as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, gaining extensive experience regarding the use of procedures available before the USPTO. Olivia is a frequent lecturer and panelist at law schools, conferences and other symposiums across the country. She has been recognized for her legal work including Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers Top 50 Women, 40 Under Forty, Diversity MBA’s Top 100 under 50 Executive Leaders, The Sandra Day O’Connor Pro Bono Award, and The Northern District of Illinois Excellence in Pro Bono Award.
Olivia is active in the Chicago community. Among other interests, she currently serves as the Chair of Subcommittee for Attorneys on the Membership Committee for the Economic Club of Chicago; serves as the Executive Director and past President and Founder of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court; serves on the Local Patent Rules Committee at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; and serves on the Board of the American Writers Museum and as President of its Chicago Council.
Jonathan S. Bedi is an experienced trial lawyer and litigator with over a decade of trial experience. He handles cases in state and federal courts around the country from pretrial investigations through trial. He has represented clients in a wide array of cases ranging from murder, mortgage fraud, health care fraud, drug conspiracy and racketeering. He has experience securing successful verdicts from juries and judges alike. He has represented professionals, executives and students in internal investigations who face allegations of misconduct from financial fraud to sexual harassment. He has successfully defended individuals who face allegations of misconduct in the #metoo era, helping clients avoid publicity and avoid criminal charges. Jonathan has spoken at seminars, conferences, and law schools on a wide array of topics, including trial advocacy, pretrial motions and the role of the jury trial. He is an active member of the Chicago Inn of Court and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.