Michael Cohen is a partner with the Antitrust and International Competition Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Areas of Practice

Michael began his career as an Assistant Special Prosecutor, investigating and prosecuting organized crime involvement with the failure of local financial institutions in the early 1990s. After his government service, Michael joined the historic Washington, D.C. antitrust firm Howrey & Simon, where in 1996, he became one of the youngest partners in that unique firm’s history. In 2003, Michael joined Heller Ehrman as a partner in Washington, D.C., where he helped develop and grow the firm’s federal government antitrust merger defense practice. When Heller Ehrman ceased operations in 2008, Michael joined Paul Hastings as a partner in its Washington, D.C. office, where he founded, built and chaired that highly regarded firm’s international competition practice group for seven years.

In 2015, Michael joined Sheppard Mullin’s storied antitrust practice with a goal of putting his 25 years experience to work to complement the firm’s longstanding antitrust litigation group, helping to bridge government antitrust enforcement in Washington, D.C. to the firm’s strengths in Brussels, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Over his legal career now spanning more than 30 years, Michael practices all dimensions of competition law, defending multinational clients without borders across continents in business conduct and merger clearance investigations throughout the world's global markets. He is among a short list of lawyers who have successfully defended multiple mergers through trial and appeal in the U.S., including serving as co-lead counsel to Western Refining in its $1.4 billion acquisition of Giant Industries, which proceeded from complaint through trial in 21 days and through appeal in less than 14 days. Michael was also a core partner on the trial team that successfully defended the H.J. Heinz Company’s acquisition of BeechNut’s baby food business in the federal trial court, until reversed on appeal – a case and decision that has been widely assessed and discussed since.

Michael's practice includes concentrated representation of clients in the high tech, software, computer system, oil and gas, heavy manufacturing, food processing, beverage, broadcast, digital media, transportation and healthcare industries. In addition, he has pioneered a novel trade regulation practice area bridging environmental organizations and stakeholders with industry in sustainability joint ventures. Chambers USA noted that Michael “is well known for trying high-stakes merger cases as well as other civil and criminal antitrust litigation. His client base is strong and varied and includes publishing, technology and healthcare companies. Clients describe him as ‘a wonderful partner.’"

From 2015-2017, Michael hosted the VoiceAmerica network International Crossroads segment of On the Law, a syndicated radio broadcast reaching more than 1,100 stations across the world (including more than 300 across the U.S.). Listeners can stream, download or subscribe to Michael’s International Crossroads show here.

Michael currently hosts the Sheppard Mullin podcast Nota Bene, a weekly series covering the cutting-edge and ever-changing legal issues affecting multinationals doing business without borders. Listeners can subscribe, download and listen to all podcasts here. He previously hosted the Sheppard Mullin monthly Breakfast with Europe webcast, which can be found here.

In addition, Michael currently serves as an adjunct professor to Washington & Lee University School of Law, teaching International Comparative Competition Law. He also serves on the faculty to the Monterey College of Law, where he has taught Constitutional Law, Business Organizations and the Heisler Advocacy Clinic.

Michael’s Twitter handle is @mpacohen.



Representative Matters

  • Defending Reynolds and Reynolds Company in connection with federal antitrust multi-district litigation, In Re: Dealer Management Systems Antitrust Litigation, MDL 2817 (N.D. Ill.).
  • Represented the largest independent publisher of yellow pages phone directories in California, as plaintiff in below cost pricing, loss leader and secret rebate action under California’s Unfair Practices Act, favorably settling for a confidential amount. AGI Publishing, Inc. v. YP Western Directory, Fresno Superior Court, No.14 CE CG 00656.
  • Obtained merger clearance for WellStar Health System’s $575 million acquisition of five metro Atlanta hospitals from Texas-based Tenet Healthcare. The merger stands among the largest hospital transactions for 2016 in the U.S. by number of facilities.
  • Defending the chief executive of a major consumer facing branded manufacturer in a U.S. Department of Justice criminal price fixing investigation.
  • Sole counsel to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, a multi-continental joint venture among the tuna processing industry, marine scientists and environmental non-governmental organizations. The foundation establishes science-based conservation measures for tuna species across the world’s oceans, supporting UN Convention organizations that reach scientific consensus but often fail to achieve international consensus among their constituent governments. Industry participants that choose to follow the measures span continents from Africa, Europe, North and South America and Asia, and include the bulk of tuna processing worldwide. The organization has achieved landmark status pioneering a bridge between environmental groups, industry and science, and serves an example of working within multinational legal regimes for environmental sustainability goals.
  • Defended Twin America against the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and New York Attorney General federal district court lawsuit to unwind the Twin America transportation merger. After three years of intense litigation, the DOJ and New York AG reached a settlement with Coach USA Inc., City Sights LLC and their joint venture, Twin America LLC, to remedy competitive concerns in the New York City hop-on, hop-off bus tour market.
  • Obtained merger clearance for Gannett’s $2.2 billion acquisition of Belo Corporation’s multi-state radio and television broadcast media stations.
  • Successfully defended Western Refining’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Giant Industries against a landmark Federal Trade Commission challenge to the transaction in a federal case that went through trial and appeal in less than 45 days.
  • Defended the H.J. Heinz Company’s acquisition of BeechNut’s baby food business successfully through trial, reversed on appeal in a decision widely discussed and analyzed contemporaneously and since.
  • Successfully defended the StarKist Dolphin Safe Policy in federal district court jury trial of Mexican tuna fleet commercial breach and interference claims.
  • Regular antitrust counsel to industries and companies across a wide spectrum of business on competitive acquisition strategies and conduct, including pricing, distribution, supply and collaborations.



Recognized for Antitrust Law, Best Lawyers, 2021

Leading Lawyer, Antitrust and Competition, Chambers USA, 2011-2019

Antitrust and Competition, Legal 500, 2016-2020

Leading Lawyer, Antitrust and Competition, Global Competition Review

Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers, 2017-2020


Speaking Engagements

  • "SCOTUS: Criminal Law Decisions We All Need to Know from the 2016 Term," LawLine webinar, September 13, 2017
  • Co-host with M. Winick and S. Wagner, "Distinguishing between Legal and Political Issues Amidst the Chaos inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway," VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion on the distinction between "political" and "legal" issues amidst the legislative chaos and presidential tweeting going on in Washington, D.C., August 3, 2017
  • Guest Co-Host, "2017 Supreme Court Update," VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion on the final session of the 2017 June session of the U.S. Supreme Court, July 13, 2017
  • Co-Host, "Seismic Changes in the World Order: US Withdraws from International Policy Leadership," VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion about the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific partnership and the president’s threatened termination of NAFTA in the Americas, June 29, 2017
  • Co-Host, "Blockchain Technology May Replace Banks and Stock Exchanges: Will the Law be Ready?" VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion about the future of global trade, banking and finance in a new digital world, May 25, 2017
  • Co-Host, "U.S. International Trade in the Trump Administration Era" VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion about whether the sudden withdrawal of the U.S. from its longstanding role in the international trade arena stand to cede a new economic world order, leaving America in the rear view, April 27, 2017
  • "European Competition Law in the Nationalist Era: What You Need to Know at the Dawn of Divergence," Silicon Valley Association of General Counsel, April 21, 2017
  • Co-Host, "U.S. Trade Policy," VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Review of the recent release of the Trump administration's 2017 U.S. Trade Policy Agenda. Hosts discussed the international business community's reaction to these and other Trump administration trade policies, March 23, 2017
  • Co-Host, "The Legal Authority of Presidential Executive Orders," VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion about the constitutional and legal authority of Presidential Executive Orders. The most recent orders issued by President Trump have raised constitutional questions regarding the separation of powers between federal and state governments, February 9, 2017
  • Co-Host, "The Tenth Supreme Court Justice, Who is the U.S. Solicitor General?" VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion about the unique role of the U.S. Solicitor General. Historically described as the "Tenth Supreme Court Justice," this influential government lawyer is one of the least known, and little understood, positions in the American justice system. What roles do the different government lawyers play in our federal, state, county, and local legal systems?, December 29, 2016
  • Guest Co-Host, "New Term, New Cases, Same Old Issues: Review of the New Supreme Court Term," VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion on the 2016 October U.S. Supreme Court Term. Cohen, a Constitutional Law Professor and International Law Attorney previews the major cases coming before the Court, including returning issues such as the death penalty, equal rights and First Amendment Rights. Winick and Cohen also discuss the likely impact of the Court sitting with only eight Justices and the U.S. Senate's refusal to hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland, October 13, 2016
  • Host, "Legal Challenges for In-House Corporate Counsel," International Crossroads segment of VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Interview with Ross Veltman, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Association of General Counsel to discuss the in-house legal role, and the current issues America’s leading chief legal officers in California face across the vast national and multinational landscape, August 11, 2016
  • Host, "Encore: Legal Drones, Illegal Fireworks, and Medical Research - No, not together!" International Crossroads segment of VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Interview with Nancy Koch, General Counsel to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, one of the largest private funders of basic research, June 30, 2016
  • Host, "International Human Rights Survivors and the Global Mental Health Gap," International Crossroads segment of VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Michael interviewed co-founders of Partnerships for Trauma Recovery - Monika Parikh and Annika Sridharan. Partnerships for Trauma Recovery was launched in response to the tremendous need to address the psychological impacts of human rights abuses among international survivors of human rights abuses, June 6, 2016
  • Guest Co-Host, "Law of the Sea'food,'" VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Discussion on the long-term sustainability of global tuna fisheries. Special program guest is Susan S. Jackson, President and member of the Board of Directors of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Under Jackson’s leadership, ISSF has grown from a small association of eight global tuna processors into the world’s premier organization uniting industry leaders, the environmental community and leading scientists in the creation, advocacy and adoption of science-based best practices that advance the long-term sustainability of global tuna fisheries. Through her unwavering focus on collaboration, Jackson has created successful partnerships with constructive NGOs, scientists, governments and has led efforts to make ISSF an effective advocate for positive change in the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs), the governing bodies responsible for managing tuna resources worldwide, June 2, 2016
  • Co-Host, "Law of the Sea'food,'" International Crossroads segment of VoiceAmerica's On the Law radio program, Michael discusses the long-term sustainability of global tuna fisheries with Susan Jackson, President and member of International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, which has grown from a small association of eight global tuna processors into the world’s premier organization advocating long-term sustainability of global tuna fisheries, May 19, 2016

Digital Media

Digital Media


J.D., Washington and Lee University - School of Law, 1990, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, Lead Articles Editor, Washington & Lee Law Review

B.A., Virginia Tech, 1987


  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
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