Each client has a story to tell. Bob works closely with clients to tell their story in a way that is clear, concise, and compelling. He also advises trial teams on winning strategies and arguments, either to avoid the need for an appeal or to lay the groundwork for one.
Before joining Tonkon Torp, Bob served for ten years in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. He served for five years as a Senior Attorney in the Division’s Appellate Section, where he briefed and argued civil and criminal appeals, as well as drafted memoranda for Department leadership on high-profile legal matters. For example, Bob wrote a first draft of the Department’s amicus brief advocating for nationwide marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, and developed the legal analysis behind the Department’s challenge to North Carolina’s H.B. 2 bathroom bill.
Bob also served for five years as an Honors Attorney in the Division’s Special Litigation Section. There, he led litigation teams vindicating the rights of individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities. He also negotiated settlement agreements with the states of Oregon, Georgia, and Texas to improve their community-based mental health services.
In addition, Bob served on a detail to the Office of White House Counsel under President Barack Obama. In that role, he vetted candidates for Executive and Judicial Branch nominations and drafted memoranda to the President.
Following his graduation from law school, Bob clerked for Judge Susan P. Graber of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Portland. Bob graduated from the University of Michigan Law School magna cum laude and Order of the Coif. At Michigan, he served as Editor in Chief of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform and finished third in the Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition.
Get To Know
Featured Representative Matters
The Ramos Project
In April 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down non-unanimous jury convictions in criminal cases in Ramos v. Louisiana. A shameful carryover from the Jim Crow era, Louisiana and Oregon were the last two states that allowed non-unanimous criminal convictions when as many as two jurors believed a defendant was innocent. Overnight, more than 260 cases in Oregon became eligible to seek post-conviction relief for unconstitutional non-unanimous convictions. Housed in the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) at Lewis & Clark Law School, the Ramos Project is a statewide pro-bono initiative providing legal assistance to those seeking redress.
Tonkon Torp Helps to Clear Path for Building Mosque, Other Religious Facilities
Tonkon Torp appellate attorney Bob Koch recently won a favorable ruling from the Oregon Court of Appeals that allows for Masjid Ibrahim, a local mosque, to be built in the Bethany area of Multnomah County. The court’s ruling is also an important victory for all proposed places of worship throughout Oregon.
Robert Koch Wins Pro Bono Appeal at Oregon Supreme Court
Tonkon Torp attorney Robert Koch, Chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group, won a family law appeal in the Oregon Supreme Court involving a child custody dispute for his client.
Tonkon Torp Wins Appellate Victory in Auto Insurer Case
Tonkon Torp recently achieved a complete appellate win on behalf of its client, Leif Hansen, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2018, Tonkon Torp attorneys Steve Olson, Paul Conable, and Meg Houlihan represented Hansen individually and in a proposed class action against his auto insurer, GEICO, for refusing to pay for digital scans of his truck as part of the truck’s repair following a collision. Hansen sued for breach of contract under his insurance policy and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The federal district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. That dismissal prompted an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which was led by Bob Koch and Meg Houlihan.
Community Involvement & Activities
Oregon State Bar – Constitutional Law Section
Executive Committee, Chair-Elect (2021-Present)
Executive Committee, Member-at-Large (2020-Present)
CLE Subcommittee, Chair (2021-Present)
Oregon State Bar – Appellate Practice Section
Executive Committee, Member-at-Large (2020-Present)
Oregon State Bar – Procedure & Practice Committee
Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative – District of Oregon
At-Large Representative (2020-Present)
District Co-Chair (2019-2020)
Pioneer Courthouse Historical Society
Membership Director (2019-Present)
Classroom Law Project
We the People Coach, Franklin High School (2018-Present)
Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court
Barrister Member (2018-Present)
Camp Kesem – Oregon Chapter
Advisory Board Member (2018-Present)
U.S. Department of Justice – DOJ Pride
Vice President (2017)
Capital Tennis Association
Social Chair (2010-2012)
Federal Bar Association
LGBT Bar Association of Oregon
Multnomah Bar Association
Oregon State Bar, Appellate and Constitutional Law Sections
Oregon Women Lawyers
Awards & Recognition
National LGBT Bar Association
U.S. Department of Justice
2010 & 2016, Civil Rights Division’s Special Commendation Award
2012 & 2015, Civil Rights Division’s Special Achievement Award
2011, Civil Rights Division’s Distinguished Service Award
Robert Koch Elected Chair-Elect of OSB Constitutional Law Section
Tonkon Torp Litigators Share Expertise in Oregon Civil Pleading and Litigation Publication
Bob Koch Moderates Annual U.S. Supreme Court Review/Preview for OSB
Bob Koch and Sadie Concepción Share Pro Bono Opportunities on MBA Panel
Robert Koch Represents the District of Oregon to the Ninth Circuit Conference of Chief District Judges
Robert Koch Appointed to Two OSB Section Executive Committees
Robert Koch Joins Board of Pioneer Courthouse Historical Society
Robert Koch Named District of Oregon Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative
Bob Koch Appointed to OSB Procedure and Practice Committee
Tonkon Torp Proud to Make a Strike for Diversity
Publications & Presentations
"U.S. Supreme Court Review/Preview with Professor Pamela Karlan," OSB Constitutional Law Section, November 2020
"Appellate Considerations for Trial Counsel," Litigation Journal, Fall 2020
“Appellate Considerations for Trial Counsel,” Oregon Civil Pleading and Litigation (2020 ed.)
Panelist, “Sharpening Your Skills Through Pro Bono Practice,” Multnomah Bar Association, June 2020