Steven J. Olson


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Steve Olson is global co-chair of O’Melveny’s White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations Practice and a member of the firm's management committee.

Steve is a trusted advisor to clients facing sensitive regulatory oversight and enforcement actions, and to boards investigating allegations of fraud and misconduct. A former federal prosecutor, he guides clients through complex inquiries with reputational ramifications, and prepares efficient and coordinated defense strategies for parallel government investigations, criminal and regulatory proceedings, and civil litigation.

Corporate and university boards and independent directors regularly turn to Steve for counsel on strategic initiatives and crisis management, and rely on his in-depth understanding of the nuanced responsibilities and liabilities of board leadership. Steve recently advised the boards of CenturyLink (now Lumen Technologies), Mattel, USC, and UCLA in high-profile investigations involving allegations of financial fraud and misconduct, and he represents UCLA, Stanford, and other universities in connection with athletic conference realignment matters that have reshaped the landscape of college sports.


Government Experience

  • Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, and Executive Director of SelectUSA, US Department of Commerce (2011-2013)
  • Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California (1999-2004)

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized by Chambers USA for White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (2017-2023)
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 US for Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense (2016-2023)
  • Named a “Local Litigation Star” for White-Collar Crime by Benchmark Litigation (2020-2023)
  • Named a “Top White Collar Lawyer” by the Daily Journal (2020, 2021)
  • Named to the "500 Leading Litigators in America" list for White Collar Defense & Corporate Investigations by Lawdragon (2022)
  • Named “One of the Most Influential People in Los Angeles” by the Los Angeles Business Journal
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers® in Criminal Defense: White Collar in Los Angeles, CA (2023-2024)
  • Named a “Super Lawyer” in surveys conducted by Law & Politics Media Inc. and published in Los Angeles Magazine


Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • US District Court, Central District of California
  • US Court of Appeals, Sixth and Ninth Circuits


  • University of Michigan, J.D., 1995: Contributing Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law 
  • Stanford University, B.A., 1990: with honors 

Professional Activities


  • Honorable Wm. Matthew Byrne, Jr., US District Court, Central District of California 


  • Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)
  • World Trade Center Los Angeles

Board Member

  • Public Policy Institute of California
  • Rose Bowl Legacy


  • Pomona College

Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, “Securities Enforcement in 2023: Discussion on Hot Topics and Enforcement Priorities,” Southern California Regional Subcommittee of the ABA White Collar Crime Committee (June 2023)
  • Panelist, “The Future of Investigations Part 2: Regulatory Oversight & Enforcement,” FTI Consulting (October 2020)

Strategic Advisory Experience

  • Served as interim general counsel and chief legal officer for Hyundai Motor North America and Genesis from March to October 2021.
  • Represent UCLA, Stanford, and other universities in connection with high-profile athletic conference realignment matters.
  • Represented BYD Motors, a global Chinese electric vehicle and battery company, on a range of regulatory, litigation, and business-operations matters in US before various local, state and federal government agencies.
  • Represented a leading Los Angeles-area independent school in connection with matters related to the college admissions bribery cases.
  • Provides ongoing regulatory advice to Honor Device Co. and several other non-US headquartered companies regarding national security issues.
  • Provides ongoing strategic advice to several public and private universities and high schools regarding corporate governance, internal controls, and reporting procedures.
  • Helps clients develop and plan responses to risk scenarios, manage strategy involving numerous investigatory agencies, prepare community town halls, and coordinate other crisis communications.

Board-Led and Internal Investigations

  • Represented the Audit Committee of Mattel’s Board of Directors in an internal investigation into allegations by an anonymous whistleblower of an accounting error that resulted in a misstatement of the toy maker’s income tax accounting.
  • Represented the Board of Trustees of the University of Southern California in multiple high-profile investigations and corporate-governance issues, including an internal investigation into the conduct of a former campus gynecologist and concerns about reporting issues at the University.
  • Represented the Board of CenturyLink (now Lumen Technologies) in a large-scale internal investigation of consumer sales and billing practices and allegations of sales of unwanted services, and in related regulatory, consumer, and shareholder litigation.
  • Represented the Regents of the University of California in an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct at UCLA medical facilities. The engagement included reviewing the university’s policies and procedures for preventing, identifying, and responding to complaints of sexual harassment or misconduct in its health centers, clinics, and hospitals, which together make up one of the world’s largest healthcare systems.
  • Represented the audit committee of a large, Newport Beach-based real estate investment company, in an internal investigation into allegations of fraud and embezzlement by a longtime senior executive.
  • Represented a US-based global semiconductor company in an internal FCPA investigation arising from a whistleblower complaint alleging improper payments to foreign government officials in Asia to influence government bid awards.
  • Represented the audit committee of an NYSE-listed pharmaceutical company in an internal investigation regarding revenue-recognition issues and the capitalization of certain payments.
  • Conducted an internal investigation on behalf of the audit committee of a California-based health system regarding allegations of conflicts of interest involving senior officers.

Government Investigations

  • Defending one of the largest global automakers in multi-year federal (DOJ and CDCA USAO-led) criminal grand jury investigation. Defended same company in earlier three-year federal (SDNY USAO-led) grand jury and NHTSA investigations about the scope and timing of certain recalls, persuading them to not bring charges.
  • Defending a global financial institution in regulatory investigations and a Delaware Chancery Court action concerning Elon Musk’s purchase of shares of Twitter and deal to acquire the company.
  • Representing a former executive in an SEC investigation into how the company handled employees’ allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace discrimination, and related disclosures.
  • Defended ExxonMobil in multi-year federal, state and local agency investigations following an incident concerning its downstream activities in California.
  • Defended a US-based semiconductor company in a lengthy grand jury investigation into export controls issues surrounding joint ventures in China. Persuaded DOJ Main Justice and the US Attorney’s Office in Austin to not bring charges.
  • Defended Bumble Bee Foods in a DOJ Antitrust Division grand jury investigation that spanned nearly two years and was resolved on favorable terms for the client.
  • Represented two former Banc of California executives in an SEC investigation involving allegations that the bank misled investors in its fight against a short seller.
  • Defended JPMorgan Chase in unfair competition and Fair Housing Act cases brought by Los Angeles City Attorney, achieving an early dismissal of all cases.
  • Represented independent directors of O’Reilly Autoparts (formerly CSK Auto) during a sensitive internal investigation regarding allegations of widespread accounting fraud and in subsequent SEC and DOJ cases.
  • Defended international real estate investment firm in SEC investigation concerning investor disclosures.
  • Defended employees of leading Wall Street bank in SEC and NY Federal Reserve FCPA investigation of its hiring practices in Asia.

In the News

The American Lawyer: Turmoil in the NCAA’s Power Five Means Business for Big Law

September 15, 2023

The Recorder: O’Melveny Hires Long-Serving SEC Regional Director in Los Angeles

August 21, 2023

Law360: O’Melveny Adds Former SEC Leader In Los Angeles

August 21, 2023

Sports Business Journal: SBJ College: How the Big 12 Commish Race Went Down

July 12, 2022

Public Policy Institute of California: Two California Leaders Join PPIC Board

March 2, 2022

Daily Journal: Steve Olson Named to Daily Journal’s 2021 “Top White Collar Lawyers” List

December 1, 2021

The American Lawyer: ‘Top Dollar for Top Judgment’: In Public and Behind Closed Doors, Big Law Investigations Practices Are Booming

November 10, 2021

Reuters: O’Melveny lands veteran prosecutor, FBI counsel in Washington

October 13, 2021

Bloomberg Law: O’Melveny Gets Former Justice Attorney for White Collar Practice

October 13, 2021

Press Releases

O’Melveny Advises Stanford on Move to Atlantic Coast Conference

September 1, 2023

O’Melveny Welcomes Former SEC Regional Director Michele Wein Layne to its Los Angeles Office

August 21, 2023

One Hundred O’Melveny Lawyers Recognized by Best Lawyers in America ® 2024

August 17, 2023

O’Melveny Earns Top Rankings in Chambers USA 2023

June 1, 2023

Eighty Five O’Melveny Lawyers Recognized by Best Lawyers in America ® 2023

August 24, 2022

O’Melveny Earns Top Rankings in Chambers USA 2022

June 8, 2022

O’Melveny Partner Steven J. Olson Appointed to the Public Policy Institute of California’s Board of Directors

March 4, 2022

Steve Olson Named to Daily Journal’s 2021 “Top White Collar Lawyers” List

December 3, 2021

David Harbach, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney and DOJ Prosecutor, to Join O’Melveny

October 13, 2021

Alerts and Publications