Koren L. Bell

Partner
  • BIOGRAPHY
  • Awards & Recognition
  • In the news

Koren (“Kori”) Bell is a partner at Larson O’Brien in Los Angeles. She is an experienced, bilingual trial and appellate lawyer who has litigated high-stakes cases in courtrooms around the country. Kori has handled complex white collar criminal matters—including as Counsel of Record in a case she advanced to, and argued before, the U.S. Supreme Court—and civil matters—including as trial counsel in widely publicized complex commercial and civil rights cases for prominent clients. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants—including Fortune 500 companies, diplomats, and high-net-worth individuals—across a range of industries, and regularly represents Spanish-speaking clients in all types of matters.  

Across her diverse practice, and at every stage of litigation, Kori delivers results for her clients through aggressive, creative, and focused advocacy.

Most recently, in People v. Salari, a public corruption case involving the former Los Angeles County Assessor, Kori and partner Stephen G. Larson obtained the dismissal before the California Court of Appeal of two separate cases charging our client with 67 counts of bribery, embezzlement, and tax fraud. The case, which dates back to 2012, garnered national attention after then-Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley stated that it was one of the County’s most important in decades.

Shortly before that, in People v. Shaw, another highly publicized case, Kori and Stephen defended a decorated economic development expert charged alongside the former Palmdale mayor with the embezzlement of millions of dollars in NASA funds. Following a multi-week preliminary hearing—which the Court described as "among the most complicated, if not the most complicated case I’ve ever heard in 37 years"—Kori and Stephen obtained a favorable sole-tax-count, no-custody, no-restitution disposition for their client, and the dismissal of all remaining charges. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Court praised the "topnotch" and "superb lawyering by Ms. Bell and Mr. Larson," deeming the result "a testament to their abilities."

And in Todd McNair v. NCAA, a defamation case arising from the Reggie Bush scandal, Kori was a core member of the trial team that obtained a complete defense verdict for the NCAA, following a month-long trial that was covered extensively in the media. After the jury rejected the plaintiff’s claims, the Court called the advocacy in the case—which included Kori’s spearheading of legal strategy and examination of key trial witnesses—"the best I’ve seen since I’ve been a judge."

Prior Experience

Before entering private practice, Kori spent over eight years at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles. As a Supervising Trial Deputy in the largest office in the federal defender system, she helped oversee trial litigation, devise management improvements, and develop district-wide challenges to prosecutions. During her tenure, Kori defended clients in some of the Office’s most difficult federal criminal trial matters and appeals—including cases involving alleged cross-border criminal activity, each of the federal fraud statutes, bribery, public corruption, and capital murder. 

Among these matters was Shaw v. United States, a case involving the proper construction of the federal fraud statutes, which Kori advanced to—and argued before—the U.S. Supreme Court after securing acquittals on certain counts at trial. The Supreme Court agreed that the Ninth Circuit’s fraud jury instruction was erroneous, vacated the court’s judgment affirming her client’s convictions, and remanded. Following Shaw, the Ninth Circuit then held in United States v. Miller—a case in which Kori and her team reiterated the Shaw jury-charge challenge—that its model fraud instruction misstates the law. Ninth Circuit precedent and that of five other circuits upholding the fraud charge, the court wrote, "are no longer tenable in light of the Supreme Court’s intervening ruling in Shaw v. United States."

Kori began her career as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was then a Skadden Fellow at the Education Law Center, where she represented a plaintiff class of schoolchildren from 31 low-wealth districts before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the lower courts, and an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Kori received her law degree from Yale Law School, where she was the Executive Editor of the Yale Journal of International Law. She received her undergraduate degree with high honors from Swarthmore College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was selected as a Eugene Lang Scholar in recognition of her demonstrated commitment to social justice. Following college, she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Argentina, where her family is from, and a Fulbright Scholar in Chile.

Other Activities

Kori is active in the Los Angeles legal community as a member of the Board of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's White Collar Defense Association, and the Mexican American Bar Association. She serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Judicial Intern Opportunity Program, and the Federal Judicial Externship and Scholarship Committee for the Mexican American Bar Association. 

Kori has taught at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, presented at the ABA Institute on White Collar Crime and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers White Collar Conference, and judged national moot court competitions.  

Representative Matters

  • Defending decorated USC water polo coach charged in the highly publicized "Varsity Blues" college admissions case with conspiring to operate a nationwide racketeering conspiracy.   
  • Representing plaintiffs—developer Colonies Partners and its managing partner—in the largest federal civil rights suit pending in the Central District of California, seeking over $100 million in damages for the District Attorney’s Office’s pursuit of a retaliatory investigation into our clients, which ended in a full acquittal at trial. 
  • Representing a major television network in an internal investigation conducted overseas.
  • Representing defendants and counterclaimants in a putative class action matter involving alleged trade secret violations, and violations of the Federal Wiretap Act and California’s Invasion of Privacy Act.
  • Defended FedEx Ground Package System in $600 million federal civil lawsuits brought by the State and City of New York alleging the knowing shipment of contraband cigarettes. Conducted key trial depositions and helped spearhead strategy, culminating in a favorable disposition for the client.
  • Defended Pfizer Inc. in multi-plaintiff products liability actions brought in Missouri state court over its blockbuster statin. Helped spearhead motions strategy, culminating in favorable dispositions for the client.
  • Defended founder and former CEO of Insys Therapeutics charged in an unprecedented federal prosecution with illegally distributing an FDA-approved medication in violation of RICO, the fraud statutes, and the Anti-Kickback Statute. Helped spearhead strategy, including for motion to dismiss that prompted the government to abandon its original indictment following criticism from the court.
  • Trial counsel in a landmark criminal prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Obtained mid-trial dismissal following first-impression litigation over the construction of the statute and the applicable jury charge.
  • Lead trial counsel for the lead defendant in three cases, out of two jurisdictions, alleging $30-million international market-manipulation conspiracies. Leveraged government misconduct to negotiate a disposition that reduced the client’s life-term exposure to time-served.
  • Trial counsel in a counterfeit currency case. Obtained pre-trial dismissal after challenging the constitutionality of the government’s search.
  • Lead trial counsel in a cross-border illegal gratuities case. Obtained jury acquittal on a witness-tampering count, and post-trial dismissal of a gratuities count. Litigated first-impression questions of statutory interpretation later addressed by the Supreme Court in McDonnell v. United States.
  • Trial counsel in a firearms case in which the government presented two confessions obtained from the client. Won jury acquittal.

Higher education honors include: 

  • Skadden Fellow (2004-2006)
  • Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar (1999-2000)
  • Fulbright Scholar (1998-1999)
Larson O'Brien Press Release

County loses bid to dismiss Colonies lawsuits

A new ruling by a federal judge leaves San Bernardino County facing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over the politically motivated, 20-year persecution of Larson O'Brien client Jeff Burum and his company, Colonies Partners.

Daily Journal

Developer & officials acquitted of bribery can sue

San Bernardino County, its former district attorney, and his staff can be sued by Larson O'Brien client Jeff Burum and former county officials for alleged retaliation and malicious prosecution, a federal judge ruled on July 29, 2020.

San Bernardino Sun

Judge OKs trial against San Bernardino County

A federal judge on July 29, 2020 denied a request by San Bernardino County to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Larson O'Brien client Jeff Burum alleging malicious prosecution in a nearly decade-long public corruption case that ended in his acquittal.

Los Angeles Times

Larson O'Brien defends client on refiled charges

The L.A. County district attorney's office refiled public corruption charges against former assessor John Noguez, top official Mark McNeil, and Larson O'Brien client Ramin Salari.

Larson O’Brien joins Law Firm Antiracism Alliance

The national coalition of law firms aims to create large-scale, coordinated pro bono projects that address systemic racism.

Work-from-home policy: What employers need to know

Larson O’Brien partnered with AT-RISK International to identify key areas for employers to focus on when implementing a work-from-home policy.

Law360

RICO charge not fit for "Varsity Blues" coaches

Partner Kori L. Bell argued on behalf of Larson O'Brien client Jovan Vavic in a hearing on July 1, 2020 regarding whether conspiracy counts should be dismissed in the "Varsity Blues" case.

Law360

"Varsity Blues" defendants refer to Bridgegate

The Larson O'Brien defense team for Jovan Vavic filed a brief arguing that the Bridgegate ruling closes the "Varsity Blues" case, along with the lawyers for four other defendants.

American Bar Association

Kori Bell presenting webinar on white collar crime

Partner Kori L. Bell is speaking on a webinar panel during the ABA 2020 Virtual Institute on White Collar Crime on June 10 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. PT.

Larson O'Brien Press Release

Court grants firm's writ of mandate petition

Larson O'Brien's writ of mandate petition on behalf of client Ramin Salari was granted on May 22, 2020, directing the charges to be dismissed.

Firm joins L.A. Represents pro bono initiative

Mayor Eric Garcetti's pro bono initiative is composed of top Los Angeles law firms providing free legal services to residents facing hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles Business Journal

Partners named among the 2020 Top Women Attorneys

Partners Kori L. Bell and Hilary Potashner have been named among the Top Women Attorneys of 2020.

Los Angeles Business Journal

Bell among most influential women lawyers in L.A.

Los Angeles Business Journal recognizes Kori Bell among the most influential attorneys in Los Angeles

Daily Journal

Larson O'Brien hired in college admissions scandal

Ex-judge, Stephen G. Larson, hired to represent water polo coach in college admissions scandal

Law360

Larson added to "Varsity Blues" defense team

Larson O'Brien counted among elite firms that make up the "Varsity Blues" defense team

Law360

Koren ("Kori") Bell Joins Larson O'Brien

Larson O'Brien LLP Welcomes Veteran Trial Lawyer Koren Bell as Partner and Dana M. Howard and K. Darcy Elgin as Associates

  • EDUCATION

    Yale Law School; Yale Journal of International Law, Executive Editor

    Swarthmore College, B.A., High Honors; Phi Beta Kappa, Lang Scholar

  • CLERKSHIPS

    Hon. Stephen Reinhardt
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

  • ADMISSIONS

    California
    New York
    U.S. Supreme Court
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    U.S.D.C. Central District of California

  • LANGUAGES

    Spanish