Hailyn J. Chen

Hailyn J. Chen

Hailyn Chen is a Munger, Tolles & Olson litigation partner and Co-Managing Partner of the firm.

She focuses her practice on complex business litigation, white collar criminal defense and government investigations. Ms. Chen frequently represents higher education institutions in a range of litigation matters and investigations.

In 2021, Ms. Chen was listed among California’s “Top Women Lawyers” by the Daily Journal for the fourth consecutive year and, in 2020, she was named “Managing Partner of the Year” by Corporate Counsel. Ms. Chen serves by appointment of the California Supreme Court on the State Bar of California’s Board of Trustees.

Ms. Chen earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University, where she was one of the first female coxswains to lead the Yale varsity men’s crew and was awarded the MVP award in 1996.


Complex Civil Litigation

Ms. Chen has significant experience in preparing complex commercial litigation and class actions for trial, representing companies in various sectors including energy, financial services, entertainment and technology. Ms. Chen’s representative matters include:

  • Airbnb in obtaining dismissal under the Communications Decency Act of a lawsuit brought by Apartment Investment and Management Co. (Aimco) alleging short-term renters damaged corporate apartments and disturbed residents.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in litigation stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
  • Shea Homes, Inc. in obtaining a denial of class certification in a lawsuit brought by homeowners alleging the company misrepresented the construction quality of its homes in violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.
  • Western Asset Management in obtaining a favorable settlement in a lawsuit asserting breach of fiduciary duty in managing a client’s account during the financial crisis.
  • LG Display, a manufacturer of TFT-LCD flat panels, in one of the nation’s largest antitrust class actions of indirect purchasers.
  • Recorded music labels within Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, EMI and Sony in obtaining a permanent injunction against the notorious pirated music service LimeWire, and the ensuing damages trial that led to a $105 million settlement on behalf of the labels.
  • Universal Music Group in a lawsuit asserting antitrust violations and tortious interference with business relations arising out of disputed right to license Bob Marley tracks. The case was successfully resolved on summary judgment.
  • A defendant company and its chief executive in obtaining summary judgment in a dispute involving claims of tens of millions of dollars.

Higher Education Law

Ms. Chen has counseled higher education clients in internal and government investigations, crisis management, criminal prosecutions and ongoing compliance issues related to government claims and federal grants. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and has developed a broad understanding of the unique management, operational and regulatory challenges universities face.

Ms. Chen’s noteworthy higher education matters include:

  • Represented the University of California in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of all students across all ten UC campuses who were disciplined by the University for sexual assault or sexual harassment in the past five years. The lawsuit alleged that the University denied these students due process. The case was dismissed with prejudice at the pleading stage. The Court held there was no reasonable possibility a class could be certified, not even for a facial challenge to the University’s policies and procedures. This was a significant ruling for not just the University of California but also for other colleges and universities across the country facing an increasing number of these lawsuits, which threaten to upend college disciplinary processes.
  • Obtaining an emergency restraining order and preliminary injunction shutting down a multi-million dollar healthcare fraud scheme perpetrated against the University of California and its UC Student Health Insurance Plan. The fraud scheme posed a significant threat to the financial well-being of the health insurance plan and affected more than 500 students across multiple campuses.
  • Numerous internal investigations regarding potential Title IX liability.
  • Guidance to the University of California Board of Regents regarding a State Auditor whistleblower investigation of the Office of the President, including recommendations for comprehensive board policy changes.
  • Defending the University of California in a criminal investigation and complaint filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney arising out of a UCLA chemistry lab accident that resulted in the death of an undergraduate student.
  • Guidance regarding Clery Act compliance and responding to a Department of Education Clery Program Review.
  • Internal investigations raising issues related to the use of federal research grant funds and Medicare billing.
  • An internal investigation into conflicts of interest and technology transfer issues related to faculty start-ups.
  • Advising a university in a Cal-OSHA investigation into a workplace accident, in which our attorneys successfully negotiated a settlement with Cal-OSHA and avoided the most serious penalties.
  • Defending against a felony prosecution for a lab accident that resulted in a student’s death; successfully negotiated a prosecution enforcement agreement and obtained a dismissal with prejudice.
  • Represented UC Berkeley in a months-long investigation into allegations of discrimination against and abusive and bullying conduct toward student-athletes by longtime Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving program Head Coach Teri McKeever.  The investigation culminated in a publicly-disclosed, lengthy investigation report.

Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Litigation

Ms. Chen also has extensive experience representing universities in their handling of sexual misconduct matters, including in administrative writ proceedings and Title IX suits for monetary damages. She counsels clients on compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act and FERPA and recommends changes, where appropriate, to policies and procedures for investigating and resolving sexual misconduct allegations. Ms. Chen guides clients through crisis management and helps them develop internal and external communication strategies with respect to these challenging issues.

Internal Investigations and White Collar Defense

Ms. Chen has significant experience in leading internal investigations, representing the company itself in some instances or the independent, special and/or audit committee in others. These investigations have covered a wide range of issues, including alleged financial misconduct, alleged misuse of government grants and university resources, and alleged conflict of interest, nonprofit tax law, and False Claims Act violations. Ms. Chen’s representative matters include:

  • A cattle ranch in state felony prosecution and federal and state civil investigations for recklessly starting a fire that resulted in one of the largest wildland fires in California history. Obtained dismissal of all criminal counts. Obtained favorable settlement with federal and state governments for pennies on the dollar.
  • The Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust in an internal investigation related to expenditures of Getty Trust funds, corporate governance issues and the provenance of objects in its antiquities collection. The representation resulted in the successful settlement of claims with the governments of Italy and Greece. A parallel investigation by the California Attorney General was resolved as well.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in a government investigation into alleged homeless patient dumping. The investigation was resolved with a favorable settlement and without any lawsuit being filed by the government.
  • A Fortune 100 company in conducting an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by a C-level executive.
  • A major private company in conducting an internal investigation into allegations of corruption in vendor contracting by a C-level executive.
  • A celebrity entrepreneur accused of criminal tax evasion.
  • Officers of a NASDAQ-listed company in an internal investigation of alleged accounting improprieties.
  • Universities in internal investigations related to various topics including workplace safety, student conduct, conflicts of interest and research misconduct.