Carol Alexis Chen is a partner in Winston & Strawn’s Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm’s White Collar, Regulatory Defense, and Investigations Practice. She represents public and private companies, corporate officers, and other individuals in all aspects of white collar criminal and regulatory matters, both before charges have been filed and at trial. In addition to responding to government investigations, 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, and export control 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. Carol's practice cuts across various sectors, including Financial Services and Banking; Health Care and Life Sciences; and Technology, New Media, and Telecommunications. Carol has particular expertise on Fintech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency, and has spoken on regulatory and litigation issues in these areas at conferences and on webinars, and to the media.
Prior to joining Winston & Strawn, 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)). Under her leadership, the section expanded the use of federal drug trafficking, money laundering, financial, tax, forfeiture, racketeering, and fraud laws to combat 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 created and chaired significant initiatives, task forces, and working groups, and led outreach to law enforcement and underrepresented communities on behalf of the Department. Carol’s other supervisor positions included Acting Deputy Chief and Acting Chief of the General Crimes Section where she trained the newest prosecutors and oversaw the charging, prosecution, and trials of smaller wire, bank, and health care fraud, and bulk cash smuggling matters.
Carol is the rare former federal prosecutor who served in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions of CDCA USAO, amassing 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, evaluated thousands of investigations for federal prosecution, and trained law enforcement personnel and prosecutors including on building complex, large-scale investigations and courtroom and trial advocacy on the criminal side and defended significant torts, Title VII discrimination, and civil rights cases in the civil realm. Carol has been consistently recognized and lauded for her trial prowess including by federal judges before whom she has tried 13 criminal and civil cases; these cases include five complex, multi-week criminal jury trials involving money laundering and racketeering gang cases, a significant excessive force/Bivens civil rights jury trial, and the successful defense of a $50 million tort case after a bench trial.
Carol 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; nominations for the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2020 and 2017 and for the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney in 2018 and 2017; and commendations from various federal and local law enforcement agencies and community organizations.
Carol is active in women’s rights, children’s rights, and efforts on behalf of Asian American Pacific Islander communities and animal welfare. She sits on the Board of Governors of Women Lawyers of Los Angeles Association (WLALA), serving as liaison to the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) and the Co-Chair of the WLALA-LACBA Joint Task Force on Retention and Promotion of Women. She is an appointed member of the LACBA President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession, serving on both the Promoting Women to Lead and Gender Bias/Civility Subcommittees, the latter for which she is a moderator of an recorded Oral History/Interview series. She is also an appointed member of LACBA's Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee and was previously a member of the Delegation to the Conference of Delegates Committee. Carol is a member of various other bar associations and organizations including the American Bar Association (Criminal Justice and Litigation Sections), Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCALA), the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance (APAWLA) (for which she serves on the Civic Engagement Committee), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), the National Asian Pacific Women's Forum (NAPWF), the Organization of Chinese Americans – The Greater Los Angeles Chapter (OCA-LA), and the private invite-only network for senior women leaders, Chief, and is a graduate of Leadership California CIT 2021 and Supermajority Education Fund's 2021 Majority Leaders Program.
Carol currently sits on two non-profit advisory boards, Nerdy Girl Success, Inc., and Create Cures Foundation, and was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for Five Acres - The Boys and Girls Aid Society of Los Angeles for an initial three-year term. She also serves as a mentor for Yale Law Women, the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Alliance, Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, and the Mentorship Boardroom.
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 B.A. in political science, summa cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a J.D. 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.