Koren Bell

Koren (“Kori”) is an experienced trial lawyer who has litigated high-stakes civil and criminal cases in federal and state court. Since joining Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz as Counsel, she has developed and implemented case strategies that have produced favorable results for clients before and after trial. Most recently, she served as trial counsel for the NCAA and helped obtain a complete defense verdict in a highly-publicized defamation case arising from the Reggie Bush scandal.

Previously, Kori spent over eight years at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles. As a Supervising Trial Deputy, she helped oversee trial litigation, devise management improvements, and develop district-wide challenges to prosecutions. During her tenure, Kori defended indigent clients in some of the Office’s most complex and difficult federal criminal trial matters and appeals. Among them was Shaw v. United States, which Kori argued as Counsel of Record in the United States Supreme Court. At the trial level, Kori defended a variety of serious cases, including matters involving alleged cross-border criminal activity, each of the federal fraud statutes, bribery, public corruption, and capital murder.

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.

Notable Matters

  • Trial counsel in Todd McNair v. NCAA. Obtained a complete defense verdict in a month-long trial in state court in Los Angeles. McNair, a former USC assistant football coach, sued the NCAA for defamation, seeking over $27 million dollars in damages based on claims that the organization ended his coaching career by implicating him in the Reggie Bush benefits scandal. WW+E took over the representation after the NCAA had lost three pre-trial appeals. Kori helped spearhead and implement case strategy and conducted key witness examinations at a trial that was covered extensively in the media, including by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the LA Times. After the jury rejected McNair’s claims and found that none of the NCAA’s statements was false, trial judge Frederick Shaller called the advocacy in the case “the best I’ve seen since I’ve been a judge.”
  • Counsel of Record in the United States Supreme Court in Shaw v. United States. Obtained a judgment vacating and remanding the Ninth Circuit’s decision affirming the client’s convictions for bank fraud. The Court adopted—in part, though not in whole—the construction of the statutory term “scheme to defraud” that Kori had advanced throughout the proceedings in a ruling that undermines the applicable jury instruction for the federal fraud statutes. As lead counsel at the trial level, Kori pursued a strategy centered on the circuit conflict over the proper construction of the statute and, ultimately, obtaining certiorari. After winning jury acquittals on two counts at trial, Kori briefed and argued the appeal of the remaining counts before the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court.
  • Trial counsel in a landmark criminal prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Obtained mid-trial dismissal following litigation over the jury instructions for key statutory terms.
  • Lead 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 a sentence of 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. Raised 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.

Clients, Industries & Other Activities

Kori has represented plaintiffs and defendants, including Fortune 500 companies and prominent individuals, in a variety of cases across a range of industries—pharmaceutical to financial services, transportation to sports entertainment. Kori’s current clients include FedEx Ground Package System in defense of a federal lawsuit brought by the State and City of New York concerning the alleged shipment of contraband cigarettes, and Pfizer in defense of multi-plaintiff product liability actions over its blockbuster statin.

Kori is active in the Los Angeles legal community as a member of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association and the Advisory Committee of the LA-ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program. She has taught at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, presented at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers West Coast White Collar Conference, and judged the national moot court competition at Loyola Law School.

Education

  • Undergraduate: Swarthmore College, B.A.; High Honors; Phi Beta Kappa; Lang Scholar.
  • Law: Yale Law School, J.D.; Executive Editor, Yale Journal of International Law.

Clerkship

  • Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (2003-2004).

Awards

  • Skadden Fellow (2004 – 2006)
  • Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar (1999 – 2000)
  • Fulbright Scholar (1998 – 1999)