Senior Counsel

Nahal Kazemi

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Appellate Litigation
  • White Collar Criminal Defense
  • International Law

Nahal Kazemi combines a strong background in broad, high-stakes litigation with extensive experience as a diplomat.

Since joining Keller/Anderle, Nahal has achieved outstanding results for her clients in major litigation matters, including successfully defending the City of Costa Mesa in federal litigation brought against it by sober living businesses.  Nahal and the Keller/Anderle team representing the City were honored with a “2019 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year” award for their victory in that case, which was also named one of the top defense verdicts of 2018 by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal.  Nahal worked closely with appellate counsel to defend this victory on appeal.  In September 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury’s verdict. Nahal was selected by Super Lawyers® as a Rising Star for Business Litigation in 2020.

On behalf of a plaintiff insurance agency, Nahal and the Keller/Anderle team obtained a highly-favorable settlement in a breach of good faith action.  The case was resolved after mediation following aggressive litigation in Orange County Superior Court.

In a breach of contract and bad faith case brought by a major fitness equipment company in Superior Court in Los Angeles County, Nahal and the Keller/Anderle team achieved a full victory on summary judgment.

Nahal drafted and successfully litigated the emergency temporary restraining order application on behalf of the City of Costa Mesa that led the state and federal governments to abandon their plan to use a dilapidated and unsuitable former assisted living facility as a coronavirus isolation site.  The case drew national media attention to the inadequate planning and lack of state and federal coordination with county and local authorities in addressing the coronavirus threat.

For five years, Nahal was an attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York, where she litigated against the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of her client, a major engineering firm, on allegations it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; successfully defended a “Big Four” accounting firm in an investigation into derivatives and hedge accounting issues, among others; and successfully represented a major European bank in litigation involving its acquisition of a U.S. Bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

In her pro bono work, Nahal has obtained political asylum for numerous applicants fleeing persecution and political oppression, assisted holocaust survivors in claiming reparations, represented victims of domestic violence in obtaining orders of protection, successfully defended indigent tenants in unlawful detainer actions, and taught the Columbia University Immigration Law Clinic. She sits on the Board of Directors of WisePlace, Orange County’s only homeless shelter for unaccompanied women.

Nahal also served as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Budapest, Hungary; Baghdad, Iraq; and Casablanca, Morocco.  During her years with the State Department she developed a deep expertise in consular, political, and political-military affairs, including crisis management, democratization, human rights, countering violent extremism, multilateral diplomacy, U.S. security cooperation programs, emerging security challenges, and civil-military relations.

Nahal received her J.D. in 2004 from Harvard Law School, cum laude, where she was Executive Editor of the Harvard International Law Journal.  She earned her A.B. in Government from Harvard College magna cum laude in 2001. As an undergraduate she won a John Harvard Scholarship for Academic Excellence and the Harvard College Scholarship for Academic Excellence.  Nahal also was a member of the Women’s Varsity Water Polo team.

She teaches civil practice foundations as an adjunct professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, speaks at conferences locally and nationally, and has authored several articles in business and legal publications.

Nahal speaks fluent Farsi, Arabic and Hungarian, and conversational Spanish and French.

  • Los Angeles Magazine, Southern California Super Lawyers® Rising Star for Business Litigation (2020)
  • California Lawyer Magazine CLAY Award (California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year), Litigation (2019)
  • The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals, “Top Defense Verdicts” (2018)
  • Fellow, National Defense University’s Program for Emerging Leaders
  • Naval War College 2016 Foreign Service Officers Association Prize for Outstanding Writing (2016), First Prize
  • Naval War College 2016 Admiral Richard G. Colbert Prize for Outstanding Writing
  • State Department Meritorious Honor Award, 2017, 2014
  • State Department Group Meritorious Honor Award, 2014
  • State Department Superior Honor Award, 2013, 2012
  • Achieved full defense verdict on all claims for the City of Costa Mesa in federal fair housing and disabilities law case brought by sober living businesses challenging the City’s right to set minimum health and safety standards for rehabilitation residences
  • Achieved full defense victory on summary judgment for major insurance company in bad faith litigation brought in California state court
  • Obtained emergency restraining order in federal court, preventing the state and federal governments from using a rundown building the state had declared unfit for human habitation as a coronavirus treatment facility
  • Defended a major international engineering firm in connection with Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations into allegations of corruption and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • Defended a “Big Four” accounting firm in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation regarding derivatives and hedge accounting, revenue recognition, and project accounting issues
  • Successfully represented a major European bank in litigation arising from the acquisition of a regional U.S. bank immediately following the 2008 financial crisis
  • Northern District Practice Panel, “Civil Justice and the ADA,” panel discussion with R. Grewal, R. Williford, and T. Lange (November 9, 2021)
  • Pacific Council on International Policy, “The Future of US-Israeli Relations,” moderator (June 12, 2020 webinar)
  • Orange County City Attorneys’ Association, “Reasonable Regulations of Sober Living Homes: The Costa Mesa Case Study,” panel with Michael Schachter (April 18, 2019, Costa Mesa, CA)
  • National Association of Women Lawyers, 15th General Counsel Institute, “Eliminating Bias and Leveraging Diversity: Lessons for Lawyers from War and Diplomacy,” panel with Jennifer Keller (November 7, 2019, New York, NY)
  • “The Non-Controversy Over Birthright Citizenship: Defending the Original Understanding of Jus Soli Citizenship,” Chapman Law Review (November 2020) (with M. Stock)
  • “Leveraging Diversity: Lessons from War and Diplomacy,” Nahal Kazemi (Orange County Business Journal, October 14, 2019)
  • “Illiberal Democracy’s Challenge to European Security Policy,” The Foreign Area Officer Association Journal of International Affairs, Volume XIX, Number 2, p. 54 (Fall 2016)
  • “Justifications for Universal Jurisdiction: Shocking the Conscience Is not Enough,” 49 Tulsa L. Rev. 1 (2013)
    “Lowering the Bar: The Unanticipated Consequences of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act for Search Engine Advertising,” J. of Internet L. (Nov. 2005) (with R. Skibell)
  • “Ill at Ease: The Precarious State of the Biological Weapons Convention’s Proposed Enforcement Regime,” 17 Florida J. of Int’l L. 137 (2005)
  • “Prospects for Justice and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone,” 44 Harvard Int’l L. J. 287 (2003) (with L. Hall)
  • Foreign and International Source Citations, The Bluebook: Uniform System of Citation (18th Ed) (with E. Sherwin)