Carol Alexis Chen
Carol Alexis Chen, a former award-winning career federal prosecutor and trial lawyer in the United States Department of Justice, is a partner and trial lawyer in Winston & Strawn LLP’s Los Angeles office. She represents public and private companies, corporate officers, and other individuals in white collar criminal and regulatory matters, both before and after charges have been filed and is often hired for the purpose of taking a case to trial. With respect to investigations, in addition to responding to government inquiries, she conducts sensitive internal investigations for her corporate and individual clients and counsels them on the development, implementation, and enhancement of compliance and remediation programs, including with respect to the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering, trade, export control, and health care laws and regulations, and the False Claims Act and related qui tam provisions. In the civil realm, Carol represents clients on a wide range of complex commercial litigation issues, including business torts, fraud, and RICO. Based on her over twenty years of legal experience, Carol’s practice covers all aspects of investigations, regulatory and compliance work, litigation, and trials, and cuts across many different sectors such as Financial and Banking; Health Care and Life Science; Disruptive Technology, New Media, and Telecommunications including matters involving cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and encrypted communications; and Complex Commercial Litigation.
Prior to joining Winston & Strawn in 2021, Carol served as an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in Los Angeles (“CDCA USAO”) for over 15 years, most recently as the first female Chief in office history of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF” Section)) which targeted international and significant domestic narcotics trafficking and money laundering organizations; racketeering enterprises such as the Mexican Mafia prison gang and criminal street gangs; traditional and emerging transnational organized criminal enterprises, including those which utilize the dark net and cryptocurrency; and companies and individuals which manufacture and distribute opioids. Carol led numerous significant, high-profile initiatives, task forces, and working groups, including those combating trade-based fraud; money laundering; unlicensed money remitting businesses; customs and export control violations; fraud and financial crime offenses committed through the use of casinos and card rooms, the dark net/cryptocurrency and/or encrypted communications; and Bank Secrecy Act violations, and oversaw the nationally modeled opioids enforcement program.
As the rare former federal prosecutor who served in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions of CDCA USAO, Carol is armed with extensive criminal and civil casework and first-chair trial experience. Carol directed federal and local law enforcement in hundreds of large-scale, complex federal criminal grand jury and wiretap investigations, specializing in cases targeting transnational money laundering organizations, international drug cartels, and violent racketeering enterprises, evaluated thousands of investigations for federal prosecution, trained countless law enforcement agents and prosecutors including on building complex, large-scale investigations and courtroom and trial advocacy, and helped to lead law enforcement and community outreach efforts. Carol handled some of the most significant investigations and cases of the Department, many of them novel and ground-breaking, and has been consistently recognized for her trial prowess; her trials include five complex, multi-week criminal jury trials involving money laundering and racketeering gang cases which Carol tried in a 15-month span (of which three included multiple defendants and one was a rare federal murder trial), a significant excessive force/Bivens civil rights jury trial for which she obtained across the board defense verdicts, and the successful defense of a $50 million tort case after a bench trial. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section’s 2019 Prosecutor of the Year Award and the OCDETF Director’s 2018 National Award for Outstanding Transnational Money Laundering Investigation of the Year; and commendations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the United States Marshals Service, National Aeronautical and Space Administration, Office of Inspector General, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, to name just a few.
In addition to serving on the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles’s Board of Governors, Carol is an appointed member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (“LACBA”) President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession, serving on both the Promoting Women to Lead (for which she is a moderator of its oral history interview series) and Gender Bias/Civility Subcommittees and LACBA’s Judicial Evaluations Committee. She previously was appointed to LACBA’s Delegation to the Conference of Delegates Committee. She is also a member of the Criminal Justice and Litigation Sections of the American Bar Association (serving on several committees and subcommittees, including Women in Criminal Justice, Women in White Collar Crime, Commercial and Business Litigation Committee, Criminal Litigation, and Trial Practice), the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance (for which she serves on the Civic Engagement Committee), the National Association of Women Lawyers, the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum, the Women’s White Collar Defense Association – Los Angeles Chapter, and the Organization of Chinese Americans – Greater Los Angeles Chapter. She has been a selected participant of Leadership California, CIT Class of 2021 and is a graduate of Supermajority Education Fund’s Majority Leaders 2021 Program, and a current member of Chief, a private membership network for senior women leaders. Carol serves as a mentor for Yale Law Women, Asian Pacific Women Lawyers Alliance, and The Mentorship Boardroom, and sits on two non-profit boards: she is Vice-Chair of the Board of Advisors for Create Cures Foundation and is on the Board of Advisors for Nerdy Girl Success, Inc. Carol previously served as a mentor to underrepresented young adults through Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization and also taught fifth-graders about the criminal justice system and conflict resolution for several years as a Facilitator for Project Lead.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Carol was a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of a global law firm for approximately three years, specializing in complex commercial, employment, and securities litigation and counseling. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science, summa cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School. Upon graduation, she clerked for the (Late) Honorable Pamela Ann Rymer on the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California, and for the (Retired) Honorable Lourdes G. Baird, then a District Judge for the Central District of California.