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.

For five years Ms. Kazemi 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; successfully represented a major European bank in litigation involving its acquisition of a U.S. Bank in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis; represented political asylum candidates pro bono, and taught the Columbia University Immigration Law Clinic.

Ms. Kazemi 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 democratization, human rights, countering violent extremism, multilateral diplomacy, U.S. security cooperation programs, emerging security challenges, and civil-military relations.

She gained extensive crisis management experience as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador at Embassy Baghdad and as a Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Center; supported the White House, cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, and other senior executive and legislative branch officials in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy; and served as a speechwriter for several ambassadors and other high ranking diplomats.

Ms. Kazemi also worked with a broad range of interagency partners in handling challenging foreign policy problems including combatting Ebola, building the counter-ISIL coalition, and managing the transition from military to civilian leadership in Iraq.

Nahal was honored with a “2019 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year” award for her role as a critical member of the trial team in Yellowstone Women’s First Step House, Inc., et al. v. City of Costa Mesa.

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 is an author of several articles in business and legal publications.

Ms. Kazemi speaks fluent Farsi, Arabic and Hungarian, and conversational Spanish and French.

  • 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
  • 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
  • Represented political asylum applicants pro bono in Federal Immigration Court, and taught the Columbia Law School Immigration Law Clinic
  • 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)
  • “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)