Victoria S. Nugent is a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and co-chair of the firm’s public client practice group in Washington, D.C. She represents public clients on a range of matters involving deceptive trade practices and Medicaid fraud. Currently, Nugent is representing several states in investigations into Medicaid and consumer fraud by numerous for-profit nursing home chains. She has argued cases before the high courts of Georgia, Nebraska and D.C., as well as the federal D.C. Circuit court.
Prior to joining Cohen Milstein, Nugent worked for seven years at Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy organization. There, she worked on legislative and regulatory campaigns addressing issues ranging from automobile safety to international trade policy.
Following law school, Nugent was awarded a fellowship from the National Association for Public Interest Law to develop and prosecute impact litigation in the areas of mandatory arbitration and consumer credit at Public Justice. She has served on the D.C. Bar Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct since 2012.
Q: What's the most rewarding aspect of working as a plaintiffs attorney?
A: I’ve worked as a plaintiffs lawyer in several capacities: developing groundbreaking impact litigation, prosecuting class actions, and, most recently, representing “public clients” — working with state attorneys general and other public officials to enforce consumer and false claims statutes.
The most rewarding part of working with public clients is knowing that the work improves people’s lives on several meaningful levels: the individual, the collective and the systemic. For example, my firm worked on behalf of the state of Nevada to recover money from the investment banks that funded reckless residential mortgage lending in the early 2000s — and created the mortgage crisis that hit Nevada particularly hard. Working with the attorney general’s office, we recovered millions of dollars for the state, which the state then used to help distressed homeowners.
The work, which began with an esoteric legal theory, helped individuals who were struggling to pay their mortgages; it helped stabilize communities ravaged by foreclosures; and it addressed a profound injustice: the transfer of home equity from millions of homeowners to a small number of Wall Street traders and investors. Having an impact on those three levels is rewarding because it makes the results specific and personal as well as broad and lasting.
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