Gary is an accomplished litigator. He represents clients in high-stake and complex business litigation matters nationwide. A partner in SmithAmundsen LLC’s commercial litigation group, Gary has secured victories for his clients in cases involving breach of contract, intellectual property, false advertising, unfair competition, business fraud and other shareholder disputes. Gary also has significant experience defending clients who are subject to regulatory investigations undertaken by various state and federal government agencies, including, but not limited to, the US Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
Gary grew up in China and is a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese. His understanding of the Chinese language and culture, coupled with his legal expertise, allows him to serve as outside general counsel to several publicly traded and privately held Chinese companies and their subsidiaries in America.
Gary served as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). He is a past president of the both the Chinese American Bar Association and the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago. He was previously a co-chair of SmithAmundsen’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and, in that role, was tasked with furthering diversity initiatives for the firm to help ensure that all employees feel appreciated for the diverse perspectives they bring to the table.
Membership & Involvement
- Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago: President 2019, President Elect 2018
- 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;
- Ambassador: American Bar Association’s Business Law Section 2010 to 2012 (now Business Law Fellows)
- Selected to the Illinois Super Lawyers list: 2021, 2022
- Selected to the Illinois Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" list: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
- Selected to State Farm’s Rising Star Academy: 2020 - 2021
- 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
Resources & Insights
In the Media
- Gary Zhao Featured in Thomson Reuter'sLegal Current White Paper and Podcast Regarding the Advancement of Lawyers of ColorMedia Mention,
- Gary Zhao Interviewed by the Legal Executive Institute of Thomson Reuters on Diverse Bar AssociationsMedia Mention,
- "Ins & Outs of Corporate, General and In-House Counsel," Gary Zhao Featured in Chicago Lawyer MagazineMedia Mention,
- Gary Zhao Featured in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Article About the Chinese American Bar Association’s Record GrowthMedia Mention,
- Media Mention,
- Media Mention, 2015
- Chicago, IL,
- Brando's Speakeasy, June 21, 2017
- SmithAmundsen, Taiwanese American Professionals, Seminar; Chicago, IL,
- National Conference of Vietnamese American Attorneys, Seminar; San Jose, CA,
- Asian American Bar Association, Seminar, Chicago, IL,
- Park Hyatt, Chicago, IL,
- Firm News, Chicago Bar Association,
- National Asian Pacific American Bar Association,
- 28 SmithAmundsen Attorneys Included on 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers and 2016 Illinois Rising Stars ListsSmithAmundsen,
- Suburban Life Media, the Chinese American Bar Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Honor Gary Zhao in 2015Suburban Life Media; Chinese American Bar Association; National Asian Pacific American Bar Association,
- 35 SmithAmundsen Attorneys Included on 2022 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists35 SmithAmundsen Attorneys Included on 2022 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists
Congratulations to all of our attorneys named to the 2022 Illinois Super Lawyers and 2022 Illinois Rising Stars lists!
- Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Presents Gary Zhao With Excellence in Civic Service AwardClerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Presents Gary Zhao With Excellence in Civic Service Award
Gary was presented the award in conjunction with the clerk's office celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
- 35 SmithAmundsen Attorneys Included on 2021 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists35 SmithAmundsen Attorneys Included on 2021 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists
Super Lawyers® is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
- Gary Zhao Selected to Join State Farm’s Rising Star AcademyGary Zhao Selected to Join State Farm’s Rising Star Academy
State Farm’s Rising Star Academy was established in tandem with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Resolution 113, which was put in place to increase diversity within the legal industry. Through this program, State Farm connects with diverse counsel to expand business relationships and support diversity in the legal industry. As a member of this year’s Rising Star Academy, Gary will have the opportunity to network, engage in professional development and learn more about State Farm’s business and culture.