Hilary Potashner

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The former Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California and a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, Hilary Potashner is highly regarded by the bench and bar alike. Recognized by judges and peers for her "unwavering commitment to high-quality, client-centered representation," Hilary applies this full-service approach by listening attentively, developing a strong working relationship with each client, and ensuring their perspective is clearly depicted through every stage of litigation. She uses a strategic blend of tenacity and creativity to excel at negotiation and prevail at trial. Having built her reputation as a skilled courtroom advocate, Hilary is being honored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Criminal Justice Section as the 2020 "Defense Attorney of the Year."

Throughout over 25 years of practice, Hilary has tried dozens of cases to verdict and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She has developed a deep familiarity and impressive credibility with state, federal, and appellate courts, and her wealth of experience serves at the advantage of her clients. Hilary successfully defends individuals facing charges in both state and federal court in a wide range of matters, including conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, healthcare fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and other white collar cases. She also represents public and prominent figures and entities in pre-indictment investigations.

In her civil practice, Hilary represents individuals and entities in high-stakes commercial litigation and appeals. Her experience includes representing both plaintiffs and defendants in intellectual property and contract disputes, civil forfeiture, misrepresentation, negligence, civil theft, and garnishment cases. Her appellate victories include the recent SEC v. Yang et al. decision in which she secured reversal of a $15.5 million judgment in favor of her clients.

Hilary's impact in the law extends outside her practice to her involvement in committees and professional organizations. Through her former role as a Lawyer Representative for the Ninth Circuit and current roles on the Ninth Circuit Jury Trial Improvement Committee, the Systems Builders Committee of the National Association for Public Defense, the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and as a member of The Chancery Club of Los Angeles, Hilary collaborates with judges and other influential lawyers to effect systemic change in the law. She also serves on the Steering Committee of Just the Beginning—A Pipeline Organization, which is a non-profit dedicated to promoting the advancement of young adults from underrepresented backgrounds in the legal profession.

Prior Experience

Hilary joined Larson O’Brien after years of public service, having started her career in the state court as deputy public defender for the County of San Diego and then serving in the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California for nearly two decades. She was twice appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as the Federal Public Defender for the Central District and was responsible for leading the largest defenders’ offices in the country. As the chief defender, she oversaw the representation of thousands of individuals facing federal charges in magistrate and district court. 

Additionally, Hilary was instrumental in the creation of one of the first federal diversionary courts in the country, the Central District’s Court Conviction and Sentence Alternatives (CASA) program. This program successfully launched due in part to her effective collaboration with the Central District Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services. As described at the time by U.S. Circuit Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, who chairs the Ninth Circuit’s Standing Committee on Federal Public Defenders, "as the Federal Public Defender, Hilary has led by personal example, maintaining high morale within the office during the government shutdown, creating a non-capital habeas unit, working effectively with our courts and other stakeholders, and contributing on a national level. She has set a very high bar for anyone to follow." 

Representative Matters

  • Representing the plaintiff in a pending case asserting claims of negligence, conversion, and civil theft, and aiding and abetting conversion and civil theft.
  • Representing clients appealing a federal conviction in a multimillion-dollar healthcare fraud case.
  • Representing defendants in a federal criminal case alleging a $1.8 billion customs fraud as well as conspiracy, wire fraud, and international money laundering.
  • Representing multiple corporate entities in related civil forfeiture actions.
  • Representing corporation on appeal in the Ninth Circuit in a federal trade secrets case as well as in superior court on breach of contract claims.
  • Representing clients in an SEC action in federal court after securing reversal of a $15.5 million disgorgement and penalties judgment against them.
  • Representing medical doctor facing multiple counts of healthcare fraud.
  • Representing a Fortune 100 company in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit arising from summary judgment order arising from commercial contract dispute.

Significant Prior Representations:

  • Obtained a complete dismissal for a tax professional charged with dozens of counts of tax fraud.
  • Obtained a complete dismissal for a doctor charged with extensive healthcare fraud.
  • Obtained pretrial diversion for a person charged with theft of government property.
  • Secured a favorable disposition for a client charged with multiple conspiracies to commit mortgage and bank fraud case for properties in California and New York with allegations of loss in excess of $13 million dollars.
  • Secured a favorable disposition for a former Major League Baseball Player charged with bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, and money laundering with allegations of loss of over $200,000.
  • Obtained bail pending appeal after representing a client at trial who was charged with a sexual assault.
  • Prevailed at trial for a client charged with international smuggling of goods into the U.S. and making a false statement, and obtained an acquittal on the smuggling count and a time-served sentence for the false statement.


Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, "Today’s Challenges, Trends, and Opportunities in Law Enforcement," Community Policing in Los Angeles County: A Vision for the Future (October 15, 2018)
  • Moderator, "White Collar Crime Today: What Are the Investigation and Enforcement Priorities?" 6th Annual London White Collar Crime Institute, American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section (October 9, 2017)
  • Speaker, "Lessons Learned from United States v. Paul Ciancia," 2017 Annual Western All-Star Conference and Confabulation, Federal Defender Services of Idaho and the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (September 14, 2017)
  • Speaker, "What is a Zealous Advocate to Do?" 7th Annual Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers All-Stars Conference (June 2017)
  • Panelist, "Perspectives from Women in Leadership in the Central District of California," (March 21, 2019)
  • Instructor, "Deposition Skills," NITA (2019 )
  • Instructor, "Building Trial Skills," NITA (2015-2019)
  • Instructor, Habeas Institute, NITA (2014-2019)
  • Speaker, "Women and the Law," Annual Federal Criminal Defense Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii (May 4, 2019) 

SEC's $15.5M win nixed on appeal by firm's clients

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the SEC’s $15.5 million judgment on Aug. 6, 2020 in favor of Larson O’Brien’s clients in SEC v. Yang et al.

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.

Los Angeles Business Journal

Partners named among “Leaders of Influence”

Partners Stephen G. Larson and Hilary Potashner were selected to the “Leaders of Influence: Litigators & Trial Lawyers” list for 2020.

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.

Hilary Potashner joins Larson O'Brien

Larson O'Brien welcomes high-profile defense attorney and former Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California


    University of California, Hastings College of Law, J.D.

    Duke University, A.B.


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