Donald S. Cohen, Partner
  • Early in his career, Don became a part of legal history when he served as counsel at the trial and appellate levels in the famous “snail darter” case (Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 [1978]), litigated under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The litigation resulted in a successful review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to practicing law in Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, Don has also taught law and served in senior administrative positions at the University of Puget Sound, University of Michigan, and University of Tennessee law schools.

    Since joining GTH in 1982, Don’s practice has focused on telecommunications, energy, and other utility law, state and municipal law, and business litigation, including complex litigation. He serves as General Counsel to public utilities and consortiums of public utilities engaged in telecommunication and energy, including rural area broadband projects and renewable energy.

    For the past 30 years, Don has been actively involved in a number of community boards and civic activities promoting the quality of life in the City of Mercer Island, Washington, where he was named Citizen of the Year in 2000.

  • Education

    • J.D., Northwestern University School of Law, 1970, cum laude
    • Board of Editors, Northwestern University Law Review
    • Order of the Coif
    • B.A. Psychology, Washington University, St. Louis, 1967
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • Omicron Delta Kappa

    Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice

    • Washington State Courts
    • U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
    • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Federal Claims

    Professional & Bar Association Memberships

    • Washington State Bar Association

      • 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

      • Public Utility, Communications and Transportation and Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Sections
    • Federal Bar Association for the Western District of Washinton

    • 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

    Honors & Awards

    • Selected for the 2015-2019 Washington Super Lawyer lists
    • Recognized by Peers as the "Lawyer of the Year" in the practice area of Municipal Law in Seattle, 2016
    • Best Lawyers - Seattle, 2015 Municipal Law
    • Best Lawyers in America, 2015-2018 Municipal Law
    • AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale Hubbell
    • Named Gordon Thomas Honeywell 2015 “Partner of the Year”
    • City of Mercer Island Citizen of the Year, 2000

    Community Activities

    • Mercer Island Parks & Recreation Commission (2019-present)

    • 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)

    • Mercer Island Parks Levy Stakeholders Committee (Chair, 2007-2008)

    • Mercer Island Planning Commission (1991-2001; Chair, 1996-2001)

    • Mercer Island Citizen of the Year (2000)

    • Seattle University School of Law Board of Visitors (1997-2001)

  • Representative Matters

      • Serves as General Counsel to public utilities and consortiums of public utilities engaged in telecommunications and energy activities, including rural area broadband projects and renewable energy.
      • Successfully represented plaintiff in trial court (two trials), Court of Appeals (two appeals), and Washington Supreme Court (multiple motions and petitions for review) in Public Utility District No. 2 of Pacific County v. Comcast, Charter, and CenturyLink, 8 Wn. App. 2d 418 (2019), a complex lawsuit commenced in December 2007 that upheld the legality of the utility’s rates and other terms and conditions under which the three companies attach their telecommunications equipment to the utility’s electric poles.
      • 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), a complex utility property tax class-action lawsuit.
      • Represented defendant at trial and on appeal in Maleng v. King County Corrections Guild, 150 Wn.2d 325 (2003), which upheld the constitutionality and charter compliance of a voter initiative to reduce the size of the County Council.
      • 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.
      • 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.
  • Reflection pond by the Tacoma Glass Museum
  • Duwamish Waterway and brown field cleanup
  • Pioneer Square
  • Fireboats on the Seattle Waterfront
  • Tacoma Arches at the History Museum
Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP


1201 Pacific Ave, #2100
Tacoma, WA 98402

Telephone: 253.620.6500
Fax: 253.620.6565


One Union Square
600 University St, #2100
Seattle, WA 98101

Telephone: 206.676.7500
Fax: 206.676.7575

Visit the Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs Web Site


1201 Pacific Ave, #2100, Tacoma, WA 98402
Telephone: 253.620.6500  Fax: 253.620.6565


One Union Square, 600 University St, #2100, Seattle, WA 98101
Telephone: 206.676.7500  Fax: 206.676.7575