Stephen G. Larson

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Stephen G. Larson, co-founder of Larson O’Brien LLP, is a former United States District Judge and has been a national trial lawyer for high-stakes civil and white-collar matters since returning to private practice in 2009.  Mr. Larson is also a trusted adviser to senior executives and prominent domestic and international businesses. 

Mr. Larson has nearly 30 years of trial and appellate experience, and has been lead counsel in scores of jury trials in the federal and state courts and appeals, including before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court, and the California Court of Appeal.  The Daily Journal, California's leading legal newspaper, has recognized Mr. Larson as one of the Top 100 lawyers in California for the past two consecutive years, noting achievements as lead trial counsel in his broad white collar and civil trial practice. 

Mr. Larson’s civil practice is broad, having represented individuals and public and private companies of all sizes as plaintiffs and defendants in high-stakes disputes, including intellectual property, real property and land use, complex contract issues, business torts, employment, securities, class actions, and environmental lawsuits.  He regularly represents companies in the entertainment, technology, financial services, real estate, healthcare, and energy and natural resources industries.  In addition, Mr. Larson is frequently engaged as an arbitrator and mediator in complex commercial disputes.

Mr. Larson’s white collar criminal defense practice includes representing businesses in government investigations and prosecutions related to an array of issues, including public corruption, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), domestic and international sanctions issues, the False Claims Act, healthcare laws, and financial controls.  Mr. Larson also represents companies, executives, lawyers, doctors, and public figures at all stages of white collar criminal matters from investigations to trial.  Mr. Larson’s criminal defense practice includes conducting internal investigations for companies, public entities, boards, and committees.  In 2016, Mr. Larson was appointed by the Orange County District Attorney and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to monitor the District Attorney’s compliance with a Blue Ribbon commission’s recommendations related to jail informants.

In 2018, Mr. Larson was awarded the Daily Journal’s California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year Award (CLAY) for his trial advocacy in The People of the State of California v. Paul Biane et al., which former California Attorney General Jerry Brown touted as one of the most significant public corruption matters in California history.  After an eight month trial, Mr. Larson secured a complete defense verdict for developer Jeff Burum, defeating allegations that three county officials took bribes from Burum in exchange for their approval for a $102 million settlement of a land dispute. 

In 2019, Mr. Larson completed his service as the chair of the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Safety.

Prior Experience

Mr. Larson began his career before being appointed as a litigation associate at O'Melveny and Myers, before being appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California in 1991, where Mr. Larson served as the Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Division.  As a prosecutor, he led 24 criminal trials, was responsible for 49 appeals before the Ninth Circuit, and received the U.S. Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance from Attorney General Janet Reno.  Mr. Larson also conducted joint training exercises and investigations with foreign law enforcement agencies in Russia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, the Ukraine, and South Korea. 

Mr. Larson departed the United States Attorney’s Office in 2000 to serve as a Magistrate Judge in the Central District of California.  In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Mr. Larson to serve as a District Judge.  As a federal judge, Mr. Larson adjudicated over a thousand cases and was designated seven times to serve on the Ninth Circuit.  Mr. Larson was also a member of the Ninth Circuit’s Jury Instruction Committee responsible for drafting and publishing model jury instructions.  Mr. Larson was a founding member of the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. 

During his nearly ten years as a federal judge, Mr. Larson presided over a number of high-profile cases, including the “Barbie vs. Bratz” copyright infringement dispute between toymakers Mattel and Bratz, and Siegel v. Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., which determined the ownership of the copyrights to the iconic comic strip Superman.  Mr. Larson also presided in United States v. Nazario, a landmark Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act case involving U.S. Marines accused of manslaughter during the Battle of Fallujah; United States v. Duro, in which he blocked the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ decade long effort to close down and expel a major migrant worker camp on the Torres Martinez Indian Reservation; and John Doe v. County of San Bernardino, which resulted in systematic reform of educational and therapeutic services for disabled youths within the county juvenile hall system.

Prior to founding Larson O’Brien LLP, Mr. Larson was chair of the litigation department at a national law firm and a member of its Executive Committee. 

Mr. Larson received his law degree from the USC Gould School of Law, and is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  Throughout his career, he has taught law school classes in constitutional law, civil rights law, and federal courts, and has conducted law enforcement training at the FBI National Academy at Quantico and overseas on money laundering, asset forfeiture, and U.S. banking regulations.

Representative Matters

  • Secured a complete defense verdict for the Managing Partner of Colonies Partners, LP, a real estate development partnership, defeating allegations that three county officials took bribes from the managing partner in exchange for their approval for a $102 million settlement of a land dispute. 
  • In United States v. Aguilar, one of only a few FCPA cases to go to trial in the past decade, successfully defeated FCPA and money-laundering charges by securing an order vacating the convictions of Ms. Aguilar. 
  • Obtained a $10 million jury verdict and judgment against the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and in favor of a minor child abused at the defendant's facilities. 
  • Secured a mid-trial dismissal of a federal grand jury's nine-count indictment against a former special agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency accused of conspiring to commit fraud and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers.
  • Represented senior executive of international mining company in Foreign Corruption Practices Act ("FCPA") joint investigation by the Justice Department and Eastern District of New York, resulting in no charges being filed. 
  • Successfully represented the states of Arizona and Oklahoma in connection with their efforts to seek recovery following the Volkswagen AG emissions “Diesel Dupe” scandal, obtaining settlements totaling more than $40 million.
  • Secured a dismissal of criminal charges and a civil compromise for an industry-leading industrial materials manufacturer, following an industrial homicide investigation. 
  • Won summary judgment in favor of Taco Bell Corp. in a putative class action alleging $51 million in violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
  • Represented a financial technology company during criminal and civil investigations by several District Attorneys’ offices and the United States Attorney, resulting in no charges being filed.
  • Represented the relator in a qui tam civil False Claims Act matter alleging healthcare fraud, resulting in more than $60 million in recovery.  
  • Won a seven-figure judgment for an attorney in a fee dispute arising from the Indian Trust litigation and settlement, following a trial before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
  • Succeeded in having no charges filed against a doctor following months-long investigation of alleged $30 million in False Claims Act violations.
  • Won three appeals overturning orders granting terminating sanctions in a high-profile wrongful death action against a celebrity drug interventionist, and defeated defendants’ motion for summary judgment after remand.  
  • Represented Arizona voters challenging the constitutionality of unequally populated voting districts created by a state commission, before the United States Supreme Court in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a non-profit organization alleged to have aided and abetted fraud and financial crimes.
  • Conducted internal investigations of a retirement pension regarding allegations of executive misconduct.
  • Served as the Independent Monitor of the Orange County District Attorney’s office, following his appointment to that role by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. 
  • Top 100 Lawyers in California (2017, 2018), The Daily Journal
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award, California Lawyer (2017)
  • California Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation (2019)
  • LA 500: The Most Influential People in L.A., Los Angeles Business Journal (2016-2018)
Los Angeles Business Journal

Larson & O'Brien among 500 Most Influential in LA

For the fourth year, the Los Angeles Business Journal has recognized Stephen G. Larson and Robert C. O'Brien among L.A.'s Most Influential people


Chrysler dealers seek $1B for scuttled franchises

A group of former GM and Chrysler auto dealers will make their case in the Court of Federal Claims that the U.S. government owe them $1B for rejecting their franchise agreements.


Live Nation, others cut loose from IP fight

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez granted Live Nation's motion to dismiss producer Darryl Payne's copyright claims


Larson added to "Varsity Blues" defense team

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

Automotive News

Dealers finally get their day in court

Larson O'Brien set to begin two month trial of Chrysler dealers' claims in Court of Federal Claims

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

Pasadena Star News

Larson O'Brien Wins $10 million jury verdict

Jury finds Rose Bowl Aquatic Center at fault in molestation case, awards family millions

Daily Journal

Larson again listed on list of Top 100 lawyers

For the second consecutive year, The Daily Journal named Stephen G. Larson to its prestigious list of the Top 100 lawyers in California

Benchmark Litigation

Benchmark Litigation honors Larson O'Brien LLP

Stephen G. Larson and Robert C. O'Brien have been named among Benchmark Litigation's California Litigation Stars for 2019

The American Lawyer

DC Circuit resolves fee dispute in land trust suit

The U.S. Court of Appeals found that a lower court made the right call when it awarded California-based lawyer $2.88 million in fees plus interest.


Eleven lawyers depart Arent Fox to open boutique

Eleven lawyers have jumped ship from Arent Fox to start a litigation boutique in Los Angeles. Larson O'Brien will focus on high stakes matters, including commercial litigation, internal investigations, appellate work and international arbitration.

The New York Times

Larson O'Brien secures $65 million settlement

Prime Healthcare Services, one of the nation's largest hospital systems, agreed to pay $65 million to settle allegations of Medicare overbilling in California

Los Angeles Business Journal

Larson and O'Brien named on "Top Litigators" list

The Los Angeles Business Journal has recognized Stephen G. Larson and Robert C. O'Brien on its list of Top Litigators in Los Angeles

San Bernardino Sun

Bribery case ends with final charges dismissed

Colonies bribery case ends with all charges dismissed against last defendant Jim Erwin.

San Bernardino Sun

3 of 4 Colonies defendants found not guilty

Three of the four defendants in the San Bernardino County Colonies corruption case were found not guilty of all charges after a marathon trial that lasted nearly eight months.


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

Los Angeles Business Journal

Larson & O'Brien among most influential in L.A.

Founding partners Larson & O'Brien were again named on the Los Angeles Business Journal's list of the 500 most influential people in Los Angeles

San Bernardino Sun

Colonies Partners files federal lawsuit

Colonies Partners LP filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against San Bernardino County District Attorney and former state Attorneys General, seeking $80 million in damages following a bungled bribery case.

California Lawyer

Larson and Phillips receive "CLAY Award"

Stephen G. Larson and Jonathan E. Phillips were selected for the prestigious CLAY Award for California Attorneys of the Year

Larson appointed to L.A.'s Blue Ribbon Commission

Los Angeles County Supervisor has appointed Larson O'Brien partner, Stephen G. Larson, to the county's newly-formed Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Safety.

The Daily Journal

Larson named on Daily Journal's Top 100 List

Larson O'Brien LLP partner Stephen G. Larson Named to Daily Journal Top 100

The Daily Journal

Back to the Courtroom

Larson O'Brien partners left big law to focus on building a broad but potent litigation boutique

Daily Press

Not guilty verdicts in Colonies corruption case

A real estate developer and two former top San Bernardino County officials were found not guilty Monday of corruption charges tied to the Colonies scandal, believed by many to be the most consequential case of its kind in the county's history.


    USC Gould School of Law

    Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, B.S.F.S.


    District of Columbia
    Supreme Court of the United States
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    U.S.D.C. Central District of California
    U.S.D.C. Eastern District of California
    U.S.D.C. Northern District of California
    U.S.D.C. Southern District of California
    U.S.D.C. District of Columbia
    Court of Federal Claims
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit