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Hilary Potashner

Hilary Potashner is a partner at Larson O’Brien LLP. She is a skilled courtroom advocate with a wealth of experience and expertise. Ms. Potashner has tried dozens of cases to verdict and has argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. With over 25 years of experience, Ms. Potashner has successfully defended individuals facing charges in both state and federal court in a wide range of matters, including conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, healthcare fraud, bankruptcy fraud and other white collar cases. Ms. Potashner has also represented clients in the other high-profile, high-stakes litigation, including homicides, sexual assaults, racketeering, and federal drug offenses.
Ms. Potashner joined Larson O’Brien LLP after years of service as the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California. After her selection as the Acting Federal Public Defender in 2014, Ms. Potashner was twice appointed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as the Federal Public Defender for our district, first in 2015 and then again in 2019. During her tenure, Ms. Potashner represented many clients charged in serious and complex cases, including the person dubbed the LAX Shooter. Paul Ciancia faced the federal death penalty for the killing of a TSA agent at the Los Angeles International Airport. Ms. Potashner and her trial team were ultimately able to secure a life disposition for Mr. Ciancia, saving him from execution.
As the Federal Public Defender, Ms. Potashner was responsible for leading an office of more than 200 employees with an annual budget of nearly $40 million.  She oversaw the representation of literally thousands of individuals annually facing federal charges in magistrate and district court.  Additionally, Ms. Potashner was instrumental in the creation of one of the first federal diversionary courts in the country, the Central District’s CASA program.  This program successfully launched due in part to her effective collaboration with the Central District Court, the United States Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.  Many individuals charged in federal court are now able to obtain dismissals of their cases by successfully enrolling in and completing the CASA program.
Ms. Potashner is highly regarded by the bench and bar alike.  “Hilary has been a strong and effective leader of one of the largest defenders’ offices in the country,” said Circuit Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, who chairs the Ninth Circuit’s Standing Committee on Federal Public Defenders.  “Throughout her time as a defender, she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to high-quality, client-centered representation.  As the Federal Public Defender, Hilary has led by personal example, maintaining high morale within the office during the government shutdown, creating a non-capital habeas unit, working effectively with our courts and other stakeholders, and contributing on a national level. She has set a very high bar for anyone to follow.”
Prior to her nearly two decades of litigation in federal court, Ms. Potashner represented scores of individuals charged in criminal proceedings in state court during her six years as a deputy public defender for the County of San Diego.
Ms. Potashner is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a board member (and past President) of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and a member of the Litigation Section Executive Committee for the Los Angeles County Bar Association.  Ms. Potashner is an invited member of the Ninth Circuit’s Jury Improvement Committee, and she has served as a Lawyer Representative to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.    
Ms. Potashner is committed to training other litigators.  She regularly presents to educational and professional organizations throughout the country, and she serves as an instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.   Ms. Potashner received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and obtained her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.