Cohen Milstein’s Public Client Practice is a litigation, investigation and counseling practice dedicated to meeting the needs of state and local governments. Given limited government budgets and a growing list of harms to the public, we provide assistance to public clients in select cases where the government entity is undertaking large-scale matters requiring specialized expertise and additional resources.  The Public Client Practice helps government enforcement agencies level the playing field against powerful corporate actors with expansive legal and lobbying budgets.  We support state Attorneys General and local government agencies in their mission to protect consumers, patients, workers and public funds from false claims and other deceptive practices. 

Our Practice

We have assisted public clients in litigating landmark consumer fraud cases against many of the largest financial services, health care and other companies in the United States. While many of our representations are confidential investigations, some of our cases are matters of public record.  We have represented multiple public clients in civil law enforcement investigations aimed at the fraudulent lending practices that led to the financial crisis in 2008. We were counsel to the state of Nevada in a consumer fraud lawsuit against Bank of America over the servicing of approximately one-half million mortgages, securing financial payments, commitments to mortgage modifications and other relief valued at nearly $1 billion. We served as counsel to a co-lead state in the landmark consumer fraud lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s over the misrepresentation of its business model responsible for rating mortgage-backed securities, which resulted in a $1.375 billion global settlement for 19 states, the District of Columbia and the United States Department of Justice. Most recently, we represented the co-lead state and another state in the $864 million settlement achieved by 22 states and the U.S. Department of Justice with Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investor Services, Inc. and Moody’s Analytics, Inc.  The Moody’s and S&P cases produced key industry reforms that guarantee greater transparency for consumers and divested the credit rating agencies of more than $2.2 billion for their conduct contributing to the national housing crisis and Great Recession.

Our People

Our attorneys understand firsthand the needs of public clients. Many have spent much of their careers in public service or in the not-for-profit sector:

  • The co-chairs of the practice bring decades of litigation, policy and negotiation experience from previous posts within federal and state governments and national public-interest advocacy organizations.
  • Our team’s prior government experience includes serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to a state attorney general, Counsel to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and as a Senior Trial Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Our lawyers have worked for national public interest groups, where they prosecuted high-profile constitutional, civil rights and impact litigation, and at consumer advocacy organizations responsible for developing legislative and regulatory campaigns on such issues as automobile safety and trade policy.
  • We offer substantial experience and a well-rounded perspective because members of our team have been successful litigators at several of the nation’s most prestigious defense firms, where they represented major corporations in complex matters.

Our Cases

Currently, our Practice represents public clients in the following high-profile matters:

  • Ratings Agency: Represented the co-lead state and another large state in the $864 million settlement achieved in January 2017 by 22 states and the U.S. Department of Justice with Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. and Moody’s Analytics, Inc. Together with the $1.375 billion-dollar settlement achieved with Standard & Poor’s in 2015, in which we also represented a co-lead state, these cases produced key industry reforms that guarantee greater transparency for consumers and divested the credit rating agencies of more than $2.2 billion for their conduct contributing to the national housing crisis and Great Recession.
  • Nursing Homes: Represent several attorneys general in litigation and investigations related to deceptive marketing and false claims by numerous for-profit nursing home chains that promised and billed for, but failed to provide, basic care to their elderly residents.
  • Energy Drink: Represent the state of Hawaii in its litigation against Living Essentials, Inc., the creator of 5-Hour ENERGY, for misrepresenting the benefits of drinking its so-called “liquid energy shot.”
  • Prescription Painkillers: Represent the City of Chicago and Santa Clara County Counsel in litigation relating to the deceptive marketing of highly addictive opioid prescription painkillers.