Alyssa represents clients in high-stakes criminal and civil proceedings, appeals, and investigations. She is a noted appellate practitioner, frequently engaged by individuals and companies to pursue justice in state and federal courts of appeal. Her Ninth Circuit experience is especially extensive, including regular arguments before the court and over 100 appearances as counsel of record. When a client's livelihood is on the line, Alyssa leverages her background as a former federal public defender in the Appellate Unit to restore their reputation and preserve their interests.
A thoughtful and determined advocate, Alyssa has achieved hard-won victories in criminal litigation involving extradition, financial fraud, RICO conspiracy, narcotics offenses, and Fourth and Fifth amendment challenges to government overreach. On the civil side, she has handled post-trial motions and appeals for a variety of clients, including startups and financial entities. In particular, she excels at litigating groundbreaking issues of statutory construction, including novel interpretations of the federal bribery and honest services fraud statutes, First Amendment issues critical to the separation of church and state, and novel theories under California's Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
Alyssa's success at all stages of litigation lies in her ability to articulate compelling arguments, both on paper and in court. She writes clearly, creatively, and meticulously, with one eye on the finer details and the other on her client's strategic position. At trial, Alyssa is careful to modulate her arguments to match the needs of her audience, from highly learned appellate judges to layperson juries. Whether addressing novel legal issues or explaining reasonable doubt, she combines a command of the record with an engaging oratory style to secure critical wins.
While Alyssa thrives in the courtroom, her primary focus is keeping clients out of it. Drawing on her years of government experience, she negotiates with prosecutors to resolve cases as quickly as possible by obtaining pre-indictment dispositions. When clients are faced with the decision to plead or seek trial, she helps them reconcile their goals with the facts of the case, leading them toward a solution that mitigates public scrutiny.
In addition to her criminal and civil work, Alyssa represents students implicated in Title IX and other disciplinary proceedings. Often retained in the earliest stages of the process, she works with students and their families to determine the best path forward, then helps them navigate complex procedures while coordinating with university stakeholders. From investigations to hearings and appeals, Alyssa employs assertive defense strategies to protect students from potentially life-altering consequences.
Prior to joining Cohen Williams, Alyssa held two positions at the Office of the Federal Public Defender: first as a trial deputy, then in the Appellate Unit, where she appeared numerous times before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She also served as the office's impact litigation coordinator, spearheading a strategy to challenge corrupt police practices in a high-profile series of cases that were recognized by the L.A.Times.
Currently, Alyssa serves on the Women in White Collar Criminal Defense Association's Diversity Committee and is a member of the Ninth Circuit indigent defense panel.
During law school, Alyssa was a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar and the recipient of three graduation prizes recognizing her academic achievement and legal scholarship. She was awarded first place in the venerated UVA Journal of International Law and Human Rights writing competition and published in the NYU Review of Law and Social Change, where she also served as Senior Articles Editor.