Morgan Chu has made a name for himself representing big companies, including Mattel Inc., TiVo Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., in high-profile intellectual property disputes. His parents were immigrants who fled China during World War II. Chu grew up in New Jersey and moved to Orange County as a teenager. He dropped out of high school at 15, left home and traveled along the East Coast. He later returned to Southern California and was admitted to UCLA, even though he didn't have a high school diploma. By the time he was 27, Chu had earned five graduate degrees in various disciplines, including a law degree from Harvard. Chu's brother, Steven, is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and was named U.S. secretary of energy in the Obama administration. Chu sat down with the Business Journal in his Century City office, which overlooks the Los Angeles Country Club, to discuss his passion for exercise, first trip to China and work as a sought-after intellectual property lawyer.

Question: Did you always want to be a lawyer?

Answer: My family was a family of people who were scientists or engineers. Everyone in the family tended to be good at a lot of things, but especially science and math, and it was natural and easy for me. I would have tended in that direction.

Q: But what happened?

A: I dropped out of high school because I was bored. I was about 15, and I decided that there were certain things about high school that I really enjoyed. I enjoyed friends, I enjoyed participating in sports, but I found school to be boring. I had asked to take a test to get a high school diploma and the teacher said no, the guidance counselor said no, the vice principal said no and the principal said no. They were saying no because I didn't have all the years of English and physical education. I asked people at the school district, wrote a letter to the superintendent of the school district and they said no.

Q: How did your parents react when you dropped out?

A: They weren't happy at all. I decided to leave for a period of time, and I left home and traveled back east. It seems crazy now, but it didn't seem crazy at the time. I eventually came back to California and decided I should go to college.


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