For many at Squire Patton Boggs, the nature of Michael Cohen’s presence in the firm’s New York office was a mystery.
Cohen, who was given an office on the firm’s 23rd floor at Rockefeller Center as part of a “strategic alliance” with his practice, kept a lock on his door. He didn’t appear to work on client matters with firm attorneys in New York, and whatever benefit he provided to the firm wasn’t apparent to his office colleagues.
Some inside the firm also had concerns about the alliance, even before Cohen’s legal troubles devolved to the point of FBI agents raiding his office.
Sources who spoke to New York Law Journal on Tuesday said Cohen, a longtime aide to President Donald Trump and his private attorney, kept to himself and didn’t frequently interact with New York personnel at Squire.
Federal agents swept into Squire’s office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Monday morning to seize records—a highly unusual event for any law office. “I’m surprised any time FBI agents show up at an office to collect documents,” said one attorney tied to the firm when asked for a reaction.
On the same day as the raid, Squire announced that the partnership with Cohen had been called off. “The firm’s arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” the firm said in a statement Monday. “We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation.”
Squire’s alliance with Cohen, lasting roughly a year, was first announced in April 2017. A press release by the firm said it would partner with Michael D. Cohen & Associates to “advance the interests” of its clients.
The National Law Journal reported at the time that a statement from Squire’s chairman and global CEO Mark Ruehlmann—now removed from the firm’s website—said the arrangement would benefit clients by bringing together Cohen and the firm’s lobbyists. “Clients worldwide increasingly confront challenges and look to seize business opportunities that intersect with governments worldwide,” Ruehlman said in a statement at the time.
A spokesman for the firm on Tuesday described the arrangement as a type of referral relationship between Cohen and Squire.
But what exactly Squire or Cohen gained from the “strategic alliance” in the end is unclear. Two attorneys who asked not to be named said the firm kept them in the dark about any client interests Cohen was advancing for the firm, and said they did not observe his work on any firm matter. Some inside Squire were also ”concerned” about him being at the firm office and having his connection, one source said.
Still, the attorneys said Cohen was not disruptive and was a discreet presence, his door sometimes seen closed. He spoke with other lawyers only in passing to say hello in the elevator or hallway. He didn’t go to office meetings, lunches or social events, one source said.
The firm gave him a partner-size office with stock furniture, but he wasn’t connected to the firm’s equipment and he didn’t have secretarial support, sources said.
“He was a tenant,” said one source, describing the relationship. “He had space he was given.”
“I had no idea what he was working on,” the source added.
News reports on Tuesday said investigators were searching for documents about payments to women who claim they had affairs with Trump.
A spokesman for the firm said he had “nothing further to add” beyond the firm’s comment. Stephen Ryan, Cohen’s attorney and a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, did not respond to an email message seeking comment.