Stephen G. Larson and Robert C. O’Brien, the founding partners of Larson O’Brien LLP, have collaborated professionally for over 20 years.
Each began their legal careers at two AmLaw 50 firms – Larson joining O’Melveny & Myers following his graduation from USC Law School in 1989, and O’Brien joining Skadden Arps after his graduation from Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley in 1991. Larson and O’Brien first worked together in 1995 at an international conference attended by senior legal officials from Russia hosted by Larson, who had by then left O’Melveny to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, and at which O’Brien, who would shortly depart Skadden to serve the U.N. Security Council (Compensation Commission) in Geneva and Kuwait, was a featured speaker. Their mutual interest in law, politics, and international relations – Larson had graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and O’Brien had graduated from UCLA with a major in political science – resulted in a long period of personal and professional collaboration which witnessed Larson appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in 2000 and, upon nomination by President George W. Bush in 2005 and subsequent U.S. Senate confirmation, as a U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California; and O’Brien create his own firm, O’Brien Zarian (later O’Brien Abeles) in 1999 and be appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations for the 2005-2006 term, during which he addressed the U.N. General Assembly. He subsequently was appointed by the President to serve on the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2011.
In 2007, O’Brien, who by then had merged his law firm with Washington DC-based Arent Fox LLP and became the founding managing partner of its Los Angeles office, was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the founding co-chair of the Private-Public Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. O’Brien’s first call was to Larson, then a District Judge, to join him as a member of the Partnership’s Executive Committee. Together, first under Secretary Rice and then under Secretary Hillary Clinton, O’Brien and Larson, together with their colleagues, conducted numerous rule of law training programs for Afghan judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in both the United States and Afghanistan and established an LLM program for young Afghan lawyers in partnership with various U.S. law schools that continues to this day. In addition, O’Brien and Larson travelled to Africa in support of justice reform efforts in Rwanda, and each has lectured and participated in rule of law training programs around the world.
In 2011, Larson, who had left the bench to return to private practice after 18 years of government service, joined O’Brien as a partner at Arent Fox. Together Larson and O’Brien spent the next five years working as the leading litigators and appellate attorneys in Arent Fox’s Los Angeles office, where O’Brien was now serving as the California Managing Partner (having opened the Arent Fox San Francisco office in June 2013), and where Larson served as the firm’s national Practice Group Leader for Complex Litigation. During their time at Arent Fox, O’Brien conducted arbitration and trials from Los Angeles to Singapore, and Larson led investigations as far away as London and Johannesburg and appeared before trial courts and courts of appeal in California and elsewhere, including both the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.
In 2016, deciding to create their own law firm focused exclusively on trials, appeals, and investigations, Larson and O’Brien departed Arent Fox to establish Larson O’Brien LLP in the heart of Los Angeles’ downtown business center. Joined by an extraordinary group of colleagues that includes former federal law clerks, former federal prosecutors, and former top AmLaw litigators, Larson O’Brien has quickly emerged as one of the top litigation, appellate, and white collar boutiques in California. In addition to new engagements with such long-standing clients as The Walt Disney Company, Korbel Champagne Cellars, and the Orange County Water District, since its founding the firm has also been engaged by the State of Arizona to represent its consumers in claims against Volkswagen, victims of the December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino in litigation between Apple and the FBI, and both national and international companies targeted in various investigations.