In high-stakes commercial trials and white-collar criminal defense, Priya Sopori’s legal savvy and deep courtroom experience—both as a veteran federal prosecutor and in substantial private practice—enable her to provide clients the skilled representation they need.
“Litigators are not necessarily trial lawyers and vice versa,” says Priya. “It takes significant experience in the courtroom to feel comfortable there, and to know what you're doing. There's a big difference between making an argument to a judge and communicating with a jury of twelve laypersons. A good trial lawyer is not only competent but conveys compassion, because the jury is going to make a judgment in the very beginning, ‘Can I trust this person?’”
A trusted advocate
Priya’s track record suggests that juries believe her when people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. In private practice she has won numerous defense verdicts, including a multimillion-dollar employment discrimination suit against a major insurer, and in suits against a successful developer, a noted Hollywood studio, and other high-profile clients. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California she indicted some 45 cases, tried numerous multi-week jury trials, and successfully prosecuted federal drug, white collar, fraud, and immigration crimes, obtaining convictions. It was a job she took to heart, determined to serve her country after the 9/11 attacks.
The daughter of Indian immigrants and at that time in private practice, she vowed to give back to the country that had welcomed her family and nurtured her. “It became a priority for me, as it did for a lot of people,” says Priya. “As much as I might like to be a warrior, I saw that I could best serve my country by representing it. As a federal prosecutor I served at the pleasure of the President and the Attorney General, and I took that obligation very seriously.”
Unbiased, analytical focus on client issues
Juries trust Priya, and so do her clients. It’s critical to the client-attorney relationship, she says. “Clients deserve counsel that is completely trustworthy, who's always going to be looking out for them and advocating for their best interests. I'm not the kind of attorney who sugarcoats things for my clients. I think that's a disservice. I will always tell it the way it is, even if it's something they might not want to hear.”
While being a straight shooter with her clients, Priya also strives to maintain a clear, unbiased, analytical focus on their issues.
“I don't like to make decisions based on emotion or any sort of personal preference. Instead, clients tell me what the scenario is and I weigh their options for them. The better I assess risks for them, the better I'm doing my job. Ultimately the client has to make a business decision, and I respect that decision,” says Priya.
That analytical approach, as well as her comfort in the courtroom, derives in part from her love of and early experience in formal debate. She participated on debate teams in middle school, high school, and college—experience that drove her toward the law. “It was the need to put all of that advocacy training to use in my profession,” says Priya. “Becoming a lawyer seemed like the best combination of what I enjoyed and what I do well.”
A new generation attorney
In addition, her success as a trial lawyer has come, in part, she says, because the legal profession has changed. She represents a new generation of attorneys with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and perspectives that can help their clients prevail at trial.
“I tell my clients that the face of America is changing, the face of corporate America is changing, the face of consumers is changing, and the face of jurors is changing. Companies must consider the benefits of hiring lawyers who reflect that change, who reflect the jury pool. One of my clients actually said to me, ‘You're the face of what I would like people to think of my company.’”
Her extensive business litigation experience includes matters involving intellectual property, copyright and trade-secret protection, licensing agreements for music and internet/television rights, international film financing and distribution, employer discrimination and sexual harassment, securities litigation, entertainment litigation, wrongful death, and white-collar crime.