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Plaintiffs’ Firm Squares Off with Trump Administration

The Wall Street Journal

February 15, 2017

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a 90-lawyer plaintiffs’ firm known for suing big companies and banks, has positioned itself as an early courtroom foe of President Donald Trump.

Partner Joseph M. Sellers is now listed as one of the lead attorneys for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in its lawsuit against Mr. Trump, according to court records.

The watchdog group alleges Mr. Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by maintaining ownership of businesses that accept payments from foreign governments. Mr. Trump has said the lawsuit is “totally without merit.”

Cohen Milstein partners Kit A. Pierson and S. Douglas Bunch, meanwhile, have joined a legal team challenging the president’s temporary ban on refugees and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The Washington, D.C.-based firm, whose lawyers contributed about $57,000 to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election cycle, is taking on the work for free, Mr. Sellers said.

When asked whether the firm had broader aims with its lawsuits, Mr. Sellers laughed. “These are both, in our view, important matters that fall well within the scope of our commitment to do pro bono,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to characterize this as mounting a campaign against the Trump administration.”

In recent years, the Cohen Milstein has savaged banks with lawsuits alleging foul play that contributed to the financial crisis. The firm said its cases have resulted in more than $2 billion in mortgage-backed securities settlements.

More recently, the firm represented animators and visual effects workers who sued Walt Disney Co. and other Hollywood companies, alleging they entered into anti-poaching pacts that depressed pay. Disney agreed earlier this month to pay $100 million to settle the long-running lawsuit.

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