A little more than three years ago, Charles Cooper and Michael Carvin, both former Reagan administration Justice Department officials then at D.C.’s Shaw Pittman, took the always risky step of breaking away from the mother firm and opening a litigation boutique. Today, Cooper Carvin & Rosenthal has found a niche on the D.C. law scene, pursuing a wide variety of high-stakes cases. In an era in which consolidation and the megafirm are the buzzwords, that wasn’t necessarily a predictable outcome. Jonathan Groner, the editor of Legaltimes.com, recently interviewed Cooper via e-mail and asked him about his start-up firm. The following is a transcript of their conversation.

Legaltimes.com: When you left Shaw Pittman and founded your new firm, what were the biggest day-to-day problems that you faced in the first 90 days or so? How were these problems resolved?