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James W. Cooper represents companies and individuals in white collar criminal defense and internal investigations, crisis management involving government enforcement, and complex litigation. He is regularly called upon to defend clients in high-stakes matters across a wide array of areas, including alleged violations of the antitrust cartel prohibitions, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), export control laws, the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements, government contracting and procurement fraud, environmental crime prohibitions, federal food and drug laws, among others.

Peers identify James as "someone you always want on your defense team - a brilliant attorney and great trial lawyer with impeccable judgment." He draws upon his experience acting in high-level DOJ positions to represent corporate and individual clients in investigations by regulatory bodies and criminal trials.

James brings a unique perspective to his practice, having served as a senior Justice Department attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, where he was the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and Acting Chief of the National Security Section. In those positions, he supervised all federal criminal investigations and prosecutions in the Office, including all matters involving fraud, public corruption, terrorist finance, anti-money laundering enforcement, export control violations, intellectual property theft, environmental crimes, and asset forfeiture. In addition, James has personally tried more than 40 criminal cases and has handled myriad sensitive or high-profile criminal cases.


  • Financial institution in DOJ and OCC investigation of lending practices and BSA/AML program.
  • S-OIL Corporation in criminal antitrust prosecution and False Claims Act (FCA) investigation involving sale of fuel to the United States Forces Korea.
  • Companies in criminal antitrust investigations of alleged agreements not to compete for employees.
  • Financial institution in BSA/AML investigation conducted by DOJ, OCC, and FinCEN.
  • Financial institution in DOJ investigation into alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
  • Hudson City Savings Bank in joint DOJ/CFPB fair lending investigation.
  • Major international oil and gas company in nationwide litigation regarding climate change.
  • Nonprofit and several of its branches in a successful challenge to the state of North Carolina’s new voter ID law.
  • Aurora Loan Services, a mortgage servicing company, in federal False Claims Act litigation alleging fraud in mortgage origination and foreclosure activities; all charges dismissed.
  • CommunityOne Bank, in Bank Secrecy Act investigation and negotiation of deferred prosecution agreement, United States v. CommunityOne Bank, N.A.(W.D.N.C. 2011).
  • Financial institution in various government enforcement matters, including investigations into mortgage servicing and origination activities.
  • SLM Corporation (commonly referred to as Sallie Mae) in United States ex rel. Batiste v. SLM Corp., 740 F. Supp. 2d 98 (D.D.C. 2010), a FCA matter alleging submission of false claims in connection with the federal student loan program. Obtained dismissal with prejudice on jurisdictional grounds; affirmed in United States ex rel. Batiste v. SLM Corp.(D.C. Cir. 2011).
  • Merck in FCA litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Southern District of Texas.
  • Academic research institution targeted in criminal export control investigation. No charges were brought.
  • Academic research institution in criminal and administrative investigation into alleged violations select agent and toxin regulations. No charges were brought.
  • Yamashita Rubber, a Japanese auto parts manufacturer, in antitrust cartel investigation, United States v. Yamashita Rubber Co., Ltd. (N.D. Ohio, October 2013).


Chambers USA
Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations — Washington, D.C. (2012-2023)
Benchmark Litigation
Litigation Star – Commercial; Competition/Antitrust; Energy; Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA); Insurance; International Arbitration; Professional Liability; Securities (2024)
National Practice Area Star – Commercial; Competition/Antitrust; Energy; Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA); Insurance; International Arbitration; Professional Liability; Securities (2024)
Best Lawyers
Criminal Defense: White Collar — Washington, D.C. (2022-2024)



  • J.D., Emory University School of Law, 1989, with distinction
  • B.A., University of South Carolina, 1986


  • District of Columbia

Government & Military Service

  • Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
  • Acting Chief of the National Security Section, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

  • Trial Attorney, Public Integrity Section, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Counsel to then-Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary


  • President, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Association of the District of Columbia, 2012-2013

  • Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court

  • Fellow, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, Litigation Counsel of America

  • Editorial Board, Emory Law Journal

  • Faculty, Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop

  • Board, DC Circuit Historical Society

  • Dean’s Advisory Board, Emory University School of Law