Jennifer L. Keller

Partner

Jennifer L. Keller

Partner

Education

University of California, Hastings College of the Law, J.D., 1978

University of California, Berkeley, A.B., 1975

Practice Areas

Trials

Commercial Litigation

Intellectual Property

Securities

Insurance Recovery/Bad Faith

White Collar Criminal Defense

Legal Malpractice

Entertainment/Sports

Admissions

State Bar of California, 1978

United States Supreme Court

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

U.S. District Court, Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern Districts of California

District of Arizona

District of Colorado

“Keller is widely regarded as one of the best trial lawyers in California”

– Chambers

“Keller has uncanny instincts, a wonderful courtroom demeanor and she’s an extremely clear and effective communicator.”

– Chambers

“Keller is absolutely unflappable in court and builds a strong rapport and credibility with judges and decision makers.”

– Chambers

“The consummate trial lawyer.”

– Chambers

“Revered for her versatility and ease in front of a jury … the go-to trial attorney for difficult cases”

– The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals

“Keller’s performance [in the MGA v. Mattel trial] added to her reputation as one of the most versatile and toughest trial lawyers in the nation.”

– Lawdragon

“Keller…is no stranger to high-stakes cases, whether criminal or civil.”

– Lawdragon

“How a Last-Minute Lawyer Victoriously Turned the Tide in the Bratz Doll Case”

– Daily Journal

“Costa Mesa Hires High Profile Attorney to Defend Against Sober-Living Lawsuits”

– LA Times

“We would like to give those cities some advice: hire Jennifer Keller. Keller is a hall of fame trial lawyer, widely regarded as the best in the county.”

– Katrina Foley, then-Mayor of Costa Mesa, and John Stephens, current Mayor of Costa Mesa, quoted in the Los Angeles Times
“Ms. Keller is the most gifted litigator with whom I have ever worked. She is not only a leader and brilliant case manager, but also the most effective trial attorney I have seen. She is the best of the best.”
Douglas Shooker, – Auerbach Acquisition Associates
“I have seen many great trial lawyers in my life and Jennifer Keller stands right up there with the greatest. I highly recommend Ms. Keller as a lead trial lawyer for any complex litigation.”
Isaac Larian, CEO, – MGA Entertainment

Experience

Jennifer is one of America’s most successful trial attorneys. She represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a broad range of high-stakes commercial litigation and white collar cases. Chambers USA and Chambers Global rank her among the top commercial litigators in the nation, quoting sources who describe Jennifer as “widely regarded as one of the best trial lawyers in California.” “She has uncanny instincts, a wonderful courtroom demeanor and she’s an extremely clear and effective communicator,” and “is absolutely unflappable in court and builds a strong rapport and credibility with judges and decision makers.” She is a Fellow of the invitation-only American College of Trial Lawyers, considered to be among the highest honors a North American trial attorney can receive. The Legal 500, among the most prestigious international legal directories, recommends Jennifer as one of just 63 “leading trial lawyers” in the entire United States. Jennifer is also a 2018 inductee into the California Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, one of only 35 attorneys so honored throughout the years. Benchmark Litigation lists her as one of the “Top 100 Trial Attorneys in America” and among the “Top 20 Trial Lawyers in California,” calling her a “National Litigation Star.” In 2020 and in 2021, Super Lawyers ranked Jennifer #1 in Southern California. “Revered for her versatility and ease in front of a jury … the go-to trial attorney for difficult cases” is how Jennifer is described by The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals, ranking her as a “Top 100 Lawyer in California” for over 10 years in a row. In three separate years (2019, 2018 and 2012), in starkly different subjects, Jennifer’s trial victories have led to California Lawyer Magazine Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) awards for extraordinary achievements in litigation.

Jennifer made a last-minute entrance as lead counsel for MGA Entertainment in the 2011 retrial of Mattel v. MGA, the epic doll battle popularly known as “Barbie v. Bratz.” Coming into the four-month jury trial just twelve days before jury selection, Jennifer captained MGA to a win Reuters called “an astonishing loss” for Mattel and the L.A. Times deemed “a stunning reversal of fortune” for MGA. The jury found Mattel had no rights to the Bratz doll line and awarded MGA $85 million in damages for theft of its own trade secrets, to which the judge added $85 million in punitive damages. (While the damages judgment was reversed on appeal, MGA’s $139 million attorneys’ fee award stands.)

Just two years earlier Jennifer won California’s largest business jury verdict of 2009 with $350 million awarded to her venture capitalist client in Auerbach v. Daily. Recently she represented Standard & Poors in United States v. The McGraw-Hill Companies, the government’s civil suit claiming S&P inflated the value of certain mortgage-backed securities. Jennifer was selected as one of S&P’s three trial attorneys. The case settled in 2015 for over $1 billion, which was less than one-fifth of what the government had been demanding.

In 2018 Jennifer won two landmark jury verdicts in different areas, each of which was named a “Top Defense Verdict” by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals. For one of them, Yellowstone Women’s First Step House v. Costa Mesa, Jennifer won her third CLAY Award (California Lawyer Magazine Attorneys of the Year). In the other, Chavez et al cv. MassMutual Life Insurance Co., she also won a CVN “Top Verdicts” award. In 2017 Jennifer as co-lead counsel got a not guilty verdict for her developer client Jeffrey Burum after nine months of jury trial in what the California Attorney General called “the largest corruption case in the history of San Bernardino, and possibly California.” The jury was out a little more than two hours before acquitting Mr. Burum of all charges.

Jennifer is listed annually in “The Best Lawyers in America®” and is among the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Jennifer is a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, an invitation-only organization limited to the top one-half of one percent of the nation’s attorneys.

Jennifer is also active in the community. She is the former President of the Orange County Bar Association and served for many years as a Trustee of Chapman University. She counts as present and former clients judges, public officials, law enforcement officers, CEOs, CFOs, lawyers, physicians, professional athletes, entertainment industry executives, actors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Jennifer’s past and present institutional clients have included Fortune 100 corporations, other publicly-traded corporations, and large privately-held companies.

Honors & Awards

  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • California Lawyers Association “Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame” (inducted 2018)
  • Benchmark Litigation “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America” (2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018), “The Top 20 Trial Lawyers in California” (2022, 2021, 2020, 2019)
  • The Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America (2012-2022), Lawdragon Legend (2020)
  • Chambers USA and Chambers Global, recommended in General Commercial Litigation (California) and Trials (of all types, Nationwide)
  • The Legal 500, USA Edition, Leading Trial Lawyers (2021)
  • Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (by invitation only, limited to top ½ of 1 percent of lawyers nationally)
  • Benchmark Litigation “Top 250 Women in Litigation” (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017)
  • California Lawyer Magazine Attorneys of the Year (CLAY Award), Municipal Law (2019), White Collar Criminal Defense (2018), Intellectual Property Litigation (2012)
  • The Irish Legal 100 (2021)
  • Orange County Business Journal, “OC 500 Directory of Influence” (2020, 2019)
  • The San Francisco Recorder, Attorneys of the Year (2012)
  • The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals, “The Top 100 Lawyers in California,” (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2007, Editors’ Pick 2001)
  • The National Law Journal, Annual “Winning” Edition (2012)
  • The National Trial Lawyers, “The Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California” (2008-2014)
  • The Best Lawyers In America®, S. Naifeh & G. Smith (2004-2022 eds.); Orange County Lawyer of the Year – Criminal Defense (2013); Orange County Lawyer of the Year – White Collar Criminal Defense (2017 and 2022); bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, and white collar criminal defense
  • Los Angeles Magazine, “Southern California Super Lawyers”: Ranked #1 Super Lawyers Southern California (2020-2021); Ranked either #1 or #2 Super Lawyers Southern California (2019-2022); Top 10 Southern California Super Lawyers (2018-2022), Top 100 Southern California Super Lawyers (2016-2022), “Top 50 Orange County Super Lawyers” (15 times), “Top 50 Southern California Women Super Lawyers” (13 times); “Super Lawyers in Business Litigation, Intellectual Property, Criminal Defense and White Collar Criminal Defense” (2006-2022)
  • The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals, “California’s Top Women Lawyers” (2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2007, 2002)
  • Member, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Orange Coast Magazine, “The Best Lawyers in Orange County,” (2004-2014)
  • OC Metro Magazine, “Orange County’s Top Attorneys” (2008-2012)
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, Business Litigation Trial Lawyer of the Year (2010)
  • Orange County Women Lawyers, Attorney of the Year (2003)
  • Anti-Defamation League of Orange County & Long Beach, Jurisprudence Award (2001)
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer of the Year (2000)
  • Public Law Center of Orange County, Attorney of the Year (1996)
  • The Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County, Lawyer of the Year (1983)
  • State Bar of California, Wiley Manuel Award for Pro Bono Service (1998)
  • Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rated since 1983. Listed, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers

Professional Activities

  • Orange County Bar Association: President (1996); Officer (1993-1997); Board of Directors (1991-93), Member (present)
  • Governor Gavin Newsom’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee for Orange County
  • Trustee, UC Hastings College of the Law Foundation (2012-2017)
  • OC Chapter of Federal Bar Association
  • Orange County Asian American Bar Association
  • UC Hastings College of the Law Alumni Association, Board of Governors (2010-2012)
  • Chapman University School of Law, Dean’s Board of Advisors (1995-2013)
  • Chancery Club of Los Angeles, member (invitation only) (2015-present)
  • State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, Commissioner (2002-2005)
  • State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Advisory Commission Chair (1993-94), Vice-Chair (1992-93) and Commissioner (1990-92)
  • Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, Lawyer Representative (1996-99)
  • Public Law Center of Orange County, Board of Directors (1995-2000)
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Board of Governors (1992-93)
  • Master Bencher, American Inns of Court, William P. Gray Legion Lex Inn
  • Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, State Bar of California Department of Legal Specialization (9-13-85)
  • Senior Research Attorney, Justice Edward Wallin, Calif. Court of Appeal, 4th District, Div. 2 (1989-92)

Community Involvement

  • Chapman University, Board of Trustees (2012-2022)
  • Anti-Defamation League of OC & Long Beach, Regional Board Member (2008-present)
  • Democratic Foundation of Orange County, Board of Directors (2000-present)
  • The California State Polytechnic University Humboldt Foundation, Board of Directors (2019-present)
  • Southern California chapter of the International Women’s Forum, Board of Directors (2014-2017)
  • Distinguished Fellow, University of California, Irvine, Center for Psychology & Law (2014-2016)
  • Life Member, The Sierra Club

Representative Matters

  • In 2011, as lead counsel for MGA, Jennifer won the retrial of Mattel v. MGA (aka “Barbie v. Bratz”), a billion-dollar “bet the company” copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation case. MGA had lost a previous trial, been ordered to pay Mattel $100 million in damages, and was forced to surrender the Bratz brand to Mattel. In the retrial, which Jennifer entered just 12 days before trial began, the jury found that MGA owned the entire Bratz brand and rejected all of Mattel’s claims.  Additionally, Mattel was ordered to pay MGA $85 million for theft of MGA’s trade secrets, plus $85 million in punitive damages and over $139 million in attorneys’ fees. (Although the damages award to MGA was reversed on appeal, the judgment awarding $139 million in attorneys’ fees stands.)  Mattel v. MGA Entertainment et al, USDC Central District of California.
  • In 2009, Jennifer was lead counsel for the plaintiff in a five-month business fraud jury trial in Los Angeles. The jury awarded $300 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. The case settled in bankruptcy court for $120 million.  Auerbach Acquisition Associates v. Daily, LASC.
  • In 2019 Jennifer and her team settled Broadwood Investments v. The United States, in which her client, Broadcom co-founder Henry Nicholas, sued for relief from an IRS denial of his attempted deduction for distressed Chinese debt.  Shortly before trial, the Government settled and allowed a deduction of $40 million plus significant interest.  It was a nationwide first for such a deduction to be allowed.
  • In 2018, Jennifer won a jury verdict for MassMutual Life Insurance Co. in a bellwether class action jury trial in Los Angeles.  The class claimed it had been unfairly deprived of dividends.  The jury found it had not, which led to the collapse of a nationwide class.  The trial was covered live on CVN, which named it one of the Top Defense Verdicts of the year, as did the Daily Journal.
  • Also in 2018, Jennifer successfully defended the City of Costa Mesa on Yellowstone Women’s First Step House et al v. Costa Mesa, in which a network of sober living home operators contended the City had violated the FHA and ADA by passing an ordinance regulating them.  A unanimous federal court jury disagreed. For this verdict Jennifer won her third CLAY Award (California Lawyer Magazine Attorneys of the Year) in Municipal Law.  It was also featured as one of the Daily Journals’s Top Defense Verdicts of the year.
  • In a 2013 Los Angeles County Superior Court trial, Jennifer and Kay Anderle as co-counsel for the plaintiff in a breach of contract, fraud and conversion jury trial won $4,841,326.75 for their client, including $1.4 million in punitive damages.  Larian v. Talassazan, LASC-Santa Monica.
  • Jennifer won a defense jury verdict for a law firm accused of wrongfully terminating the plaintiff, the head of its billing department, due to her alleged “whistleblowing” on billing fraud.
  • Represented the county CAO in the groundbreaking Orange County bankruptcy litigation, civil and criminal, and before the Securities and Exchange Commission; he was never indicted or fined.
  • Defense verdict for university in a multi-million-dollar, six-month fraud and misrepresentation jury trial; plaintiffs were students in its inaugural law school class. The jury awarded them zero damages.
  • Represented on civil or administrative matters, several judges, the Orange County District Attorney and the Sheriff.
  • Represented, through jury verdict, a lawyer charged with engineering the largest insurance fraud case in the history of California; a massive RICO prosecution over an alleged $200 million dollars’ worth of over-billing insurance carriers for legal fees.
  • Represented Standard & Poors in United States v. McGraw-Hill Companies, the government’s lawsuit alleging that S&P inflated the ratings of certain mortgage-backed securities.  After years of hard-fought litigation, the case settled for $1 billion — less than one-fifth of what the government had initially demanded.
  • Represented CashCall Inc. as plaintiff in landmark legal malpractice suit against an AmLaw 100 law firm, one of the largest such cases ever seen in the country.  Achieved settlement after four years of hard-fought litigation (settled in 2021 on eve of trial).

Speaking Engagements

  • The Rutter Group/California Judges’ Association, “Examining Trial Issues from A to Z: The Masters’ Perspective,” Professional Witnesses Take the Stand: Admissibility Issues After Sargon and Sanchez, panel with Justice Halim Dhanidina, Dana Alden Fox and Judge Michelle Williams Court (February 2020)
  • National Association of Women Lawyers, 15th General Counsel Institute, “Eliminating Bias and Leveraging Diversity: Lessons for Lawyers from War and Diplomacy,” panel with Nahal Kazemi (November 7, 2019, New York, NY)
  • California Lawyers Association, annual meeting, “Being Human in Trial: Establishing a Relationship with Your Jurors,” “Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame” series (October 10, 2019, Monterey, CA)
  • National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms’ (NAMWOLF), Annual Meeting & Law Firm Expo, “Shark Tank: Sink or Swim at Trial ,” (September 24, 2019, Los Angeles, CA)
  • Association of Corporate Counsel, Primer for Successful Litigation Management: “10 Ways Experienced Trial Counsel Can Help Your Company Obtain an Optimal and Efficient Settlement Without Going to Trial,” panel with Cheryl Diaz, Samuel N. Shapiro and Maureen Watson (May 16, 2019, Denver, CO)
  • Federal Bar Association of Orange County, Annual Civil Practice Seminar, “Trials and Error: Keys to Success and Avoiding Pitfalls at Trial,” panelist with Judge Josephine Staton, Chris Arledge and Kenneth Parker (May 14, 2019, Santa Ana, CA)
  • Banyard Inn of Court, “The Colonies Corruption Trial,” Costa Mesa, CA (03/28/2018)
  • The Rutter Group/California Judges’ Association, “Annual Advanced Civil Procedure Seminar,” e-discovery panel with Magistrate Judge Steve Kim, Orange County Superior Court Judge Glenda Sanders and attorney Bart Williams, Los Angeles, CA (02/10/2018)
  • Orange County Business Litigation Section, “Santa Claus on Trial,” Ms. Keller successfully defended Santa against claims of fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespassing brought by a disgruntled child and his mother after the child did not receive the gift he claimed Santa had promised him, and the mother claimed damage to her roof from Santa’s sled.  The plaintiffs were represented by attorney Daniel Callahan.  Newport Beach, CA (12/02/2016)
  • Consumer Attorneys of the Inland Empire and the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, “Masters Panel” on damages, featuring Jennifer Keller, Mark Robinson, Wylie Aitken and Tom Girardi.  Ms. Keller’s topic was “Damages In The Plaintiff Business Case – “Humanizing” Your Company.” Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA (5/21/2016).
  • Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, 21st Annual Litigators Forum, “If I Could Pass Along One Important Lesson …” panel with Patti Glaser and Sharla Frost (4/21/2016)
  • California Judges Association/Rutter Group Advanced Civil Litigation Seminar, “A Conversation with the Trial Masters,” featuring Jennifer Keller, Tom Girardi and Tom Nolan (1/31/2015)
  • Practising Law Institute’s California Trial Advocacy 2014, “Jury Selection,” San Francisco, CA (7/31/2014)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Los Angeles Chapter, “Impeachment,” panelist, Los Angeles, CA (4/23/2014)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, San Diego Chapter, “Cross-examination demonstration taken verbatim from the  Mattel v. MGA trial,”  San Diego, CA (2/04/2014)
  • National Trial Lawyers, Trial Summit on Prosecutorial Misconduct, “Tricks, Traps and Travesties: Keep Your Guard Up to Avoid,”  Miami, FL (1/21/2014)
  • Practising Law Institute’s California Trial Advocacy 2013, “Jury Selection,” San Francisco, CA (8/07/2013)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Annual Trial Seminar, “Dealing with cross-cultural issues during jury selection,” San Francisco, CA (7/26/2013)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, West Coast White Collar Seminar, Lake Tahoe, CA (6/6-7/2013)
  • Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, “Business Development,” Culver City, CA (4/30/2013)
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Mock Trial Closing Argument in a Class Action Invasion of Privacy Case, Annual Hawaii Seminar (Kauai, October 2011);  “Barbie versus Bratz:  Inside the Dollywood Trial” (Orange County) November 2011, (Los Angeles) December 2011
  • Los Angeles Daily Journal and JAMS, “Top Verdicts of 2011 Roundtable” (broadcast live and recorded, Los Angeles, CA  5/16/2012)
  • Consumer Attorneys Association of California, Inland Empire, 2012 Palm  Springs Seminar, “Handling Media in the High-Exposure, Complex Case (Rancho Mirage, 4/28/2012)
  • “Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, 2012 Las Vegas Seminar,” “Notable Closing Arguments from The Masters” (Las Vegas, 9/7/2012)
  • State Bar of California, Intellectual Property Section, “Strategies for Trying the Trade Secret Case,” (6/18/2012 Webinar)
  • American Inns of Court, “Barbie vs. Bratz: The Epic Doll Battle” Robert P. Banyard Inn (Costa Mesa 1/25/2012) Warren J. Ferguson Inn (Newport Beach 5/10/2012) William P. Gray Inn (Costa Mesa, 1/9/2013)
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, Closing Argument Panel (2/2012)
  • Broadcom Corporation, “Perils of Attorney-Client Privilege with In-House Counsel,” In-House Counsel Group (2/14/2012), Irvine, CA, live and by webinar; International HR Conference (3/22/2012)
  • Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyers’ Honorary Society, Keynote Speaker, Annual Meeting (Yountville, CA) Fall 2008
  • California Public Defenders Association, Homicide Seminar, 3/86 (OC); Sentencing Seminar, 12/89 (Sacramento); Faculty: Trial Skills Institute, 7/90 (San Diego); Advanced Trial Skills Institute 1/92 (Squaw Valley), 1/96 (Oxnard), 1/97 (Squaw Valley), 1/99 (Lake Tahoe), 2/02, 2/03 (Palm Springs); Annual Seminar, 4/92 (San Diego); “Establishing Trial Themes 4/04 (San Diego).
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Prop. 115 Seminars, “Preliminary Hearings,” 6/90 (LA), 7/90 (SF, SD), 12/90 (SF). Faculty, Advanced Trial Advocacy Workshop,, 8/92 (Asilomar); Faculty, Trial & Appellate Advocacy Workshop, 7/93, 8/99 (Asilomar); Faculty, “Three Strikes Seminar,” 4/94 (Anaheim, Santa Monica); Faculty, Fall Seminar Appellate Program, “Oral Argument Demonstration,” 12/94 (San Francisco); “Voir Dire,” San Diego, 5/2001; “Cross-Examination of Experts”, Las Vegas (2004); Cross-Examination of Law Enforcement Witnesses, Annual Meeting, 12/09 (San Francisco).
  • Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), “Expert Witnesses in Criminal Cases” (LA, Orange County) 6/96
  • 360 Advocacy, “Cross-Examination of Law Enforcement Officers” (Las Vegas) 4/10
  • The Rutter Group, Criminal Law for Civil Practitioners (Irvine) 1/99
  • California State Bar Convention, White Collar Crime (Anaheim) 9/94
  • OCBA Lecturer or Panelist, “Advocacy in the Modern Trial,”(6/2001);  “When the FBI Calls” (1/2001, 1/2002);  “Over the Line:  White Collar Crime” (1/99);  “The Last 60 Days: Preparing Your Witnesses for Trial” (9/10/98); Winner, “Top Gun” Closing Argument Competition (5/19/98); “Closing Argument in Civil Cases,” (6/2005). “Making Rain in A Dry Season,”(10/09); “Ethical Issues in Mattel v. MGA,” OCBA Corporate Counsel Section (1/2012)

Publications

Media