Picture of Donald S. Cohen

Donald S. Cohen

Primary Areas of PracticeEnergy and Utility Law, Municipal Law, Business Litigation, including Complex Litigation.

J.D., Northwestern University School of Law, 1970
cum laude

B.A., Psychology, Washington University, St. Louis, 1967
Phi Beta Kappa
Order of the Coif
Omicron Delta Kappa

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice Washington State Courts
Illinois State Courts
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
Professional & Bar Association Memberships

Washington State Bar
Law School Liaison Committee, 1979-80, 1986-88 (Chair, 1987-88)
Washington Supreme Court Task Force on Education for the Judiciary, 1980

American Bar Association
Sections on Litigation and Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

Federal Bar Association
Western District of Washington

King County Bar Association

Professional History
  • Joined Firm, 1982
  • University of Puget Sound School of Law, Acting Dean, 1980, Associate Dean, 1979 and 1981, Associate Professor, 1978-82
  • University of Michigan Law School, Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Studies, 1976-78
  • University of Tennessee College of Law, Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor, 1974-76
  • Private business, 1972-74
  • Attorney, Jenner & Block, Chicago, 1970-72
Representative Cases/Transactions

Mr. Cohen’s practice focuses on complex litigation, and on energy, telecommunications, and state and municipal government law, both litigation and non-litigation.

  • Serves as General Counsel to public utilities and consortiums of public utilities engaged in energy and telecommunication activities, including renewable energy and rural area broadband projects. Representation includes transactional matters, open public meeting and public records act compliance, municipal bond financing, litigation, administrative agency matters, and legislative work.
  • Successfully represented defendant in trial court and Court of Appeals in Shoulberg v. Public Utility District No. 1 of Jefferson County, 169 Wn. App. 173 (2012), which upheld the constitutional and statutory authority of the utility district to levy and collect property taxes from all district residents, including those receiving water utility service from a city utility.
  • Represented defendant at trial and on appeal in Maleng v. King County Corrections Guild, 150 Wn.2d 325 (2003), which involved the constitutionality and charter compliance of a voter initiative to reduce the size of the county council. Successfully sought direct emergency review of adverse trial court decision, which the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously reversed.
  • Successfully represented city in the SeaTac Airport “third runway expansion” litigation, 113 Wn.App. 375 (2002), in State of Washington Growth Management Hearings Board proceedings and appeals to Superior Court and Court of Appeals.
  • Represented public utilities and board and council members in Washington Public Power Supply System Securities Litigation, which involved a multi-billion dollar municipal bond default, in lawsuits before various Washington state courts and federal trial and appellate courts, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Settled three months into federal court trial.
  • Counsel at trial and appellate levels in Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978) – the “snail darter” case – seminal litigation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, resulting in successful review by U.S. Supreme Court enjoining completion of major dam project.
Community Activities
  • Mercer Island Town Center Stakeholder Group (2015)
  • Mercer Island Sustainability Policy Task Force (Chair, 2012)
  • Board of Trustees, Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust (2004 - 2012) (Chair, 2008-2010; Vice Chair, 2006-2008)
  • Mercer Island Parks Levy Stakeholders Committee (Chair, 2007-2008)
  • City of Mercer Island Planning Commission (1991-2001) (Chair, 1996-2001)
  • City of Mercer Island Citizen of the Year (2000)
  • Seattle University School of Law Board of Visitors (1997-2001)
Honors, Publications & Presentations
  • Best Lawyers® - Seattle, Municipal Law
  • Named to the 2015 Washington Super Lawyers list
  • Named a “Best Lawyer” in Best Lawyers in America
  • AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale Hubbell
  • Board of Editors, Northwestern University Law Review
  • Named Gordon Thomas Honeywell 2015 “Partner of the Year
  • City of Mercer Island Citizen of the Year (2000)