Josh A. Cohen

Josh Cohen specializes in the representation of individuals in complex criminal matters.  His clients include grand jury witnesses, targets of pending investigations, and defendants facing criminal charges in federal and state courts nationwide.  He also represents clients in collateral civil and enforcement proceedings, including matters before the Securities and Exchange Commission and a variety of licensing agencies, as well as in class action and shareholder derivative suits.  Josh is adept at managing the competing demands of parallel criminal and civil proceedings, and at working with his clients to decipher and find advantage in a confusing and often lopsided system of criminal justice.


Josh has handled cases involving virtually every crime on the books, from fish-and-game violations to securities fraud to homicide.   Since joining the firm as a name partner in February 2011, Josh has successfully defended clients against charges of insider trading, bank and mortgage fraud, health care fraud, embezzlement, controlled substance offenses, and a variety of general crimes.  Although the vast majority of Josh’s cases are resolved out of court, Josh has taken more than a dozen cases to trial in federal and state courts throughout California.  


After graduating from Williams College in 1996, Josh worked as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company in Chicago.  He then attended Yale Law School.  Josh spent his first year in legal practice at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., then moved to San Francisco to clerk for the Honorable Charles R. Breyer on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.


After his clerkship, Josh became an Assistant Federal Public Defender in San Francisco.  During four years in the defender's office, Josh represented hundreds of clients facing federal criminal charges before every judge in the district.  He tried several cases to verdict and briefed and argued appeals before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He also served briefly as the lone public defender at the one-room federal courthouse in Yosemite National Park.


Josh returned to the private sector in 2007, joining the white collar practice group at Quinn Emanuel in San Francisco.  Over the next three years, Josh concentrated on the representation of corporations and executives in a range of criminal matters, including stock-option backdating, revenue recognition fraud, environmental crimes, commercial bribery, and off-label marketing of pharmaceutical drugs.


Having devoted his career to criminal defense, Josh believes strongly in the right to vigorous representation throughout the criminal process.  He is Co-Chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers White Collar Crime Committee and accepts court appointments to represent indigent defendants in federal criminal cases.  He recently completed a term as Co-Chair of the Lawyer Representatives  to the Judicial Conference of the Northern District of California.  He has taught trial advocacy to law students and has lectured on topics ranging from electronic courtroom presentation to wiretaps to federal sentencing law.  


Josh lives in San Francisco with his wife and two daughters.


Representative Matters


  Federal Securities Fraud Investigation.  Josh secured a non-prosecution agreement for a manager of a $700 million investment fund in a joint DOJ/SEC securities-fraud investigation.
  People v. Truck Driver.  Josh secured an acquittal at trial for a corporate employee charged with manslaughter based on a traffic accident that occurred on the job.
  United States v. Physician.  Josh was lead trial counsel for a medical doctor charged with federal drug crimes and money laundering based on the issuance of prescriptions for an online pharmacy. 
  United States v. Consular Employee.  Josh obtained a misdemeanor plea agreement for a consular employee charged with a serious federal crime relating to the hiring of a domestic worker.
  People v. CFO of Nonprofit Organization.  Josh obtained a probationary disposition for the Chief Financial Officer of a nonprofit organization charged with embezzlement based on irregularities in the payment of employees’ retirement fund contributions.
  Federal Off-Label Investigation.  Josh represented former employees of a major biotechnology company in connection with a federal investigation into promotional practices relating to a cancer drug.
  Federal Online Pharmacy Investigation.  Josh represented current and former employees of a Fortune 100 corporation under investigation for its role in allegedly facilitating the operations of an online pharmacy.
  Federal Insider Trading Investigation.   Josh represented an individual under investigation for transmitting insider information concerning a technology company.
  United States v. Mortgage Broker.  Josh was lead trial counsel for a mortgage broker charged with federal wire fraud based on the submission of allegedly false or incomplete mortgage applications to lenders.
  United States v. Alleged Gang Member.  Josh was court-appointed counsel to an alleged gang member charged with aiding and abetting the shooting death of a suspected rival.  After persuading the government not to seek the death penalty, Josh achieved a favorable settlement on the client’s behalf three weeks into trial.



T:  415.749.1800




J.D., Yale Law School (2001)


B.A., Williams College (1996)




Assistant Federal Public Defender, N.D. Cal. (2003-07)


Clerk to the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, N.D. Cal. (2002-03)




"Is Title III Dead? The Future of Wiretap Challenges in the Wake of Rajaratnam," The Champion Magazine (Sept./Oct. 2013)