Quinn emanuel trial lawyers

Nix-Hines, Crystal

Crystal Nix-Hines

Partner *
*Admitted in NY and DC but not yet admitted to The State Bar of California


Crystal Nix-Hines joined the firm in 2008 as Of Counsel and left the firm in 2014 after President Obama appointed her to serve as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France.  Ambassador Nix-Hines (Ret.) rejoined the firm in 2017 as a Partner in the Los Angeles Office, where she will help launch the firm’s newly formed Crisis Law & Strategy Practice Group.  She has an accomplished record in the governmental, legal and media sectors, including a stint with U.S. Department of State; a job as both a lawyer and television script writer at Disney; and as a reporter for The New York Times.

As an ambassador to UNESCO, Ambassador Nix-Hines established a proactive, entrepreneurial and constructive mandate for the U.S. Mission that highlighted American leadership and improved organizational governance and effectiveness.  She successfully led United States’ efforts in Paris to secure reelection to UNESCO’s Executive Board – the key decision-making body – despite the U.S. being then $330 million in arrears.  She also launched a series of innovative initiatives, including two global public-private partnerships – “TeachHer,” encouraging 21st century skill development to reduce the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design and Math (STEAM) careers, and “PeaceWorx” to prevent youth radicalization to violent extremism through education.  Numerous UNESCO Ambassadors and officials have acclaimed the initiatives, noting that they have never seen a delegation achieve so much in such a short time.

During her legal career, she has worked as a senior litigator in numerous trial and appellate cases, including three successful cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ambassador Nix-Hines began her  legal career as a law clerk to the late Judge William Norris of the Ninth Circuit and to former Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Ambassador Nix-Hines earned a B.A. from Princeton University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she graduated with honors and served as Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review. During her nine-year tenure as a Trustee of Princeton University, she advised the University on a range of governance issues, and served on its Executive and Nominating Committees, and chaired its Student Life Committee.

  Representative Clients

  • AIG Inc.
  • Allstate Insurance
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Home Depot
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Mattel Inc.
  • Nextel Communications, Inc. (Sprint)
  • Shell Oil Company
  • The California Endowment
  • The State of North Carolina


  Notable Representations

  • Helped secure an 8-1 win for Shell Oil Company in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding "arranger" liability for the disposal of hazardous wastes under CERCLA . Wrote and edited significant portions of the brief and prepared lead attorney for oral argument.
  • Successfully defended the State of North Carolina's redistricting plan before the U.S. Supreme Court against claims of racial gerrymandering, resulting in a unanimous victory. Principal brief writer and editor and prepared lead attorney for oral argument.
  • Represented AIG in its successful lawsuit against Bank of America, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch for their alleged roles in a massive fraud in marketing and selling mortgage backed securities, resulting in a nine figure settlement for AIG. Drafted and edited key motions and briefs; helped strategize and prepare for oral arguments.
  • Successfully defended a Fortune 100 company in connection with a statewide investigation conducted by the Attorney General and District Attorneys' offices regarding the company's statewide hazardous waste and materials practices. Principal brief writer and editor of briefs, motions and settlement presentations. Resulted in a favorable settlement for the company.
  • Represented Mattel with respect to two trials and appeal arising out of claims of infringement and trade secret misappropriation of Bratz dolls. Wrote and edited key motions and briefs.
  • Wrote significant sections of an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, defending key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the Court.


  • Harvard Law School
  • (J.D., cum laude, 1990)
    • Harvard Law Review:
      • Supervising Editor and Managing Board Member
    • Member, Black Law Students Association
  • Princeton University
  • (B.A., 1985)


The State Bar of New York; The District of Columbia Bar; The United States Supreme Court

  Prior Associations

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
    • United States Ambassador, 2014-2017 
  • Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP:
    • Of Counsel, 2008-2014
  • Fairbanks & Vincent:
    • Special Counsel, 2006-2008
  • Disney/Touchstone Productions/Fox/independent:
    • Writer/Producer, 2001-2012
  • O’Melveny & Myers, LLP:
    • Special Counsel, Litigation Department, 1997-2000
  • United States State Department:
    • Counselor to Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor; Member, Policy Planning Staff, 1995-1997
    • Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser, 1993-1995
  • Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. (now Disney/ABC, Inc.):
    • Assistant to the General Counsel – Senior Vice President, 1992-1993
  • Law clerk to the Hon. Justice Thurgood Marshall and Hon. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:
    • United States Supreme Court, 1991-1992
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. William A. Norris:
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1990-1991 
  • The New York Times:
    • Reporter, 1985-1987


  • Princeton University's Association of Black Princeton Alumni Service Award, 2013
  • United States Department of State Superior Honor Award, 1995
  • The New York Times Publisher’s Award, 1985
  • New York Press Club, Cub Reporter of the Year Award, 1986
  • Princeton University Frederick Douglass Award, 1985
  • Princeton Student Achievement Award,  1984
  • United States News & World Report, Lawrence Scholar, 1983 and 1984

Professional Activities

  • National Finance Committee, Obama for America – 2008-2013
  • California Delegate-At-Large, Democratic National Convention – 2012
  • California Delegate, Rules Committee, Democratic National Convention - 2008
  • California Finance Committee, Obama for America, 2007
  • Princeton University Board of Trustees, 1999-2003; 2009-2014
  • Member, American Bar Association:
    • International Litigation Committee, Co-Chair, 1998-2000
    • Central & Eastern European Law Initiative, Advisory Committee Member, 1997-1999
  • Member, International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights Group),
    •  Executive Committee, Board Member, 1997-2000
  • Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs,
    • Advisory Council Member, 1986-2000
  • Council on Foreign Relations, Term Member, 1993-1998