Manatt grows Boston outpost with former Mass. federal prosecutor

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  • Karin Bell adds to firm's white collar, civil litigation practices
  • Manatt launched Boston office in mid-2019

Sept 14 - Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has brought on former assistant U.S. attorney Karin Bell as a partner as it continues to expand in Boston, the Los Angeles-founded firm said Tuesday.

Bell, who served as a lead prosecutor in the "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal, which saw its first trial begin this week, heads to Manatt from the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts. She served most recently as chief of the criminal division there.

Bell said her official last day in the U.S. attorney's office, where she worked for 14 years, was Aug. 10. She started at Manatt last week.

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Manatt launched in Boston in June 2019 with the hire of Scott Lashway, who heads the office. He joined from Holland & Knight to co-lead Manatt's privacy and data security practice alongside Donna Wilson, who also serves as the 450-professional firm's CEO and managing partner.

The Boston outpost now has nearly 15 legal and consulting professionals, according to Wilson, who described it as "an incredibly busy office."

Bell shared several reasons why she chose to join Manatt, including the draw of its growing white collar practice. She will counsel Manatt clients on international investigations, criminal and regulatory enforcement actions and civil litigation, focusing on securities, national security, anti-money laundering, and financial, cyber and health care fraud, the firm said.

Manatt recently added another partner to that practice when it hired Naeun Rim away from Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow in June.

Bell and Wilson both highlighted the firm's interest in expanding in Boston and the East Coast more broadly, and a commitment to diversity. Bell noted Manatt is run by a "really strong, dynamic woman," referring to Wilson.

Wilson said the firm's litigation practice has a robust pipeline of young and diverse professionals – but she wanted to "put that on steroids." To accelerate the trend, the firm brought on Rim, and Bell is the next piece, she said, adding that the firm wants its junior professionals "to have these role models for what a trial lawyer can and should be."

Bell also cited Manatt's "hybridized approach to client services." The firm has increasingly branded itself as a professional services firm with integrated teams of lawyers and consultants.

Other recent additions to the firm this year include Bryan Schneider, a former associate director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and professionals across various practice areas including health and digital.

Other firms have also been luring federal prosecutors in Boston. Former Massachusetts U.S. attorney Andrew Lelling joined Jones Day in March. Last week, former assistant U.S. attorney Glenn MacKinlay headed to McCarter & English.

Read more:

Manatt deepens California bench with rising trial pro

Manatt recruits two for health practice as hybrid service model gains steam

Manatt grows digital team as 'hybridized' model emphasizes professional services

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Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at