Cynthia Larsen



Cynthia Larsen, a Sacramento litigation partner, has more than 25 years of experience in business and governmental litigation and appeals. She focuses on the representation of public agency and private clients in complex disputes involving public agency and governmental law, insurance and insurance insolvency, government contracts and procurement, business torts, health care, environmental and employment law.

She has handled appellate matters in the U.S. Supreme Court, various federal appellate courts and in the California Supreme Court and appellate courts. She is a veteran trial attorney and has applied her experience as a former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney to serving corporate and governmental clients. She recently served for five years as the partner-in-charge of Orrick’s Sacramento office. She also served for several years as head of Orrick’s Litigation Training Program and as vice-chair of the firm’s Litigation Division.

Before joining Orrick, Cynthia was an attorney at Condon & Forsyth in Washington, D.C. from 1982 to 1985. Prior to that, she was a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., where she served in the Honors Program and specialized in civil trial work. Representative cases handled by Cynthia on behalf of the United States include: Sweet v. United States, 528 F.Supp. 1068 (D.S.D. 1081), aff’d, 687 F.2d 246 (8th Cir. 1982) (trial counsel); Pike v. United States, 652 F.2d 31 (9th Cir. 1981) (trial and appellate counsel); Gaspard v. United States, 544 F.Supp. 55 (E.D.La. 1982); Marek v. United States, 639 F.2d 1164 (5th Cir. 1981) (trial counsel).

Cynthia frequently writes and lectures on litigation topics. She serves as a pro tem settlement conference judge for the Sacramento Superior Court and as a federal court mediator.

In addition to being admitted in California, Cynthia is also admitted in Idaho (inactive) and the District of Columbia (inactive).

  • Cynthia's more notable engagements include the following matters:

    • Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court. Cynthia served as lead counsel on behalf of the UC Regents and Governor of California in a challenge to the UC Regents’ decision involving affirmative action, obtaining a ground-breaking decision in their favor in the California Supreme Court limiting remedies available to Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act plaintiffs.
    • Garamendi v. Golden Eagle Insurance Company. Cynthia served as lead appellate counsel for the Insurance Commissioner, obtaining a favorable decision in the Court of Appeal in a case of first impression establishing the scope of review of claims against an insolvent insurer.
    • Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia v. Hall. Cynthia petitioned for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court obtaining a landmark decision in favor of a Colombian corporation involving the standard for establishing “general jurisdiction” over a foreign defendant based on contacts with the United States.
    • California Department of Health Services. Cynthia served as lead counsel for California Department of Health Services in litigation filed against the United States in both the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the transfer of property in California designated for use as a low-level radioactive waste disposal site.
    • In re Superior National Insurance Companies in rehabilitation and liquidation. Cynthia has represented the California Insurance Commissioner in the conservation, rehabilitation and liquidation of the five insurance company subsidiaries of the Superior National Insurance Group. Collectively, the Superior National Insurance Companies constituted the largest private writer of workers’ compensation insurance in the State of California.
    • In re Golden Eagle Insurance Company in rehabilitation and liquidation. Cynthia is representing California Insurance Commissioner in the conservation and rehabilitation of Golden Eagle Insurance Company of San Diego. This matter is notable in that the rehabilitation of this troubled insurer has been the fastest and most successful rehabilitation of a property and casualty insurer in history and was successfully completed notwithstanding protracted and intense litigation by a number of opponents.
    • In re First Capital Life Insurance Company in rehabilitation and liquidation. Cynthia served as lead counsel representing the Insurance Commissioner as Conservator of First Capital Life Insurance Company of San Diego, a $3.5 billion in assets life insurer conserved by the Commissioner in May of 1991 and in the subsequent proceedings involving the rehabilitation of the insurer.
    • Vision Service Plan (VSP). Cynthia has represented VSP, the nation’s largest vision care provider, as the lead counsel in a series of procurements and ensuing litigation involving the State of California vision care contract. Cynthia also represented VSP in a dispute with the California Department of Corporations regarding licensing of laser vision correction plans.
    • Solix, Inc. Cynthia represented Solix, Inc., in successful administrative proceedings to obtain the award of a multi-million dollar public utility contract after the contract had been awarded to another bidder.
    • Blue Cross of California. Cynthia has represented Blue Cross in multi-county procurement processes and ensuing litigation arising out of the nation’s largest Medi-Cal managed procurement.
    • California Transportation Commission (CTC). Cynthia successfully represented the CTC in appellate litigation involving multi-million dollar seismic retrofit projects.
    • People of the State of California v. Sonora Mining Corp. Cynthia represented a landowner client in major environmental litigation involving the Jamestown Mine site in California which resulted in a favorable settlement prior to trial.
    • State of Idaho. Cynthia represented the State of Idaho in Endangered Species Act litigation filed by it in the District of Columbia to prevent the re-introduction of grizzlies in Idaho by the Department of Interior.