The 545-lawyer firm, which earlier this month brought on a four-lawyer international arbitration team in London, announced last week that Cooper had joined its Big Apple base, where she will continue to handle disputes in the real estate and hospitality sectors.
“I’ve been here seven business days, but I hit the ground running,” said Cooper, who officially started at Haynes and Boone on July 16.
A headhunter initially contacted Cooper about the opportunity and when she learned her hiring would fit into a strategy to help develop Haynes and Boone’s New York real estate litigation practice, she welcomed the chance to “build something,” Cooper said.
“Emilie is a very experienced and well respected real estate litigator,” said Brad Lavender, co-chair of Haynes and Boone’s real estate department, in a statement announcing her hire. “She is an excellent addition to the firm, and her practice will be a great complement to our national real estate practice.“
Cooper is bringing some of her clients from Kasowitz Benson with her, she said. But they won’t have any ties to the Trump administration, which her former firm has somewhat controversially represented on various matters since 2017.
Kasowitz Benson, which adopted its current name last year after former name partner David Friedman was tapped to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel, has long enjoyed a close relationship with some members of the current administration and the Trump Organization. Marc Kasowitz, co-founder of the firm that bears his name, has served as a mentor to Cooper since she started at Kasowitz Benson more than 11 years ago.
Cooper said she has not worked in the past on real estate matters for the president and his affiliated real estate companies, despite her expertise on such matters. There have been rumblings in the legal industry that some lawyers have left Kasowitz Benson within the past year as a result of differences of opinion over the firm’s work for Trump.
Many of those that have left Kasowitz Benson within the past year have preferred not to discuss its political leanings. Those individuals include Aaron Marks and Joshua Greenblatt, two veteran partners who decamped in September for Kirkland & Ellis. (The loss of Marks, a former member of Kasowitz Benson’s management committee, spurred a leadership shakeup at the firm.)
Others, including longtime restructuring partner Daniel Fliman, who left the firm in February for Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, claimed that Kasowitz Benson’s work for Trump played no role in their decision to leave the firm.
Kasowitz himself, no stranger to the spotlight, has continued to make news over his relationship with Trump. On Wednesday morning, the New York litigator’s name emerged in connection with stories about the ongoing fallout from special counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as a related federal probe into alleged ties between Trump, his businesses and the goings on of the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Multiple news outlets, including CNN, have reported on the contents of a pre-election taped conversation between Trump and Cohen in which they discuss, among other matters, that Kasowitz is helping the Trump campaign thwart attempts by The New York Times to unseal court papers detailing the president’s divorce with his first wife, Ivanka Trump.
According to a transcript of the recording published by The Washington Post, Cohen and Donald Trump discussed how Kasowitz should be able to prevent the divorce papers from becoming public. (The recording also made waves on social media and elsewhere for Trump’s recorded mid-conversation demand for a Coke.)
ProPublica reported in May that Kasowitz represented an investment firm with links to a conglomerate founded by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. That firm, Columbus Nova, reportedly made payments to Cohen between January and August 2017, a time period when the president’s former personal lawyer allegedly sought to advertise to clients his access to the halls of power.
A spokeswoman for Kasowitz Benson declined to comment for this story.
In the past three months, no other partners besides Cooper have either left or joined the firm. But six associates have left Kasowitz Benson during that timeframe, while 13 other associates have come aboard, according to a database maintained by ALM Intelligence.