Notice & Comment

ABA AdLaw Section Member Spotlight Series: John Cooney, by Linda Jellum

We thought you might like to learn more about members in the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section, so we have restarted our Section Member Spotlight Series. Prior posts in this series can be found here, on the Section’s legacy Notice and Comment blog that merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation‘s blog in 2015.

The third profile in our member spotlight series is John Cooney. John is a recently retired appellate and administrative law litigator. He was a partner at Venable LLP. Formerly, he served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as Deputy General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan Administration. We asked John to provide some background information from which we could learn a little more about him. I hope you will enjoy learning about John.

Q: What is your past position within the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section?

I served on the Council and then became part of leadership, serving as Chair of the Section in 2017-18.

Q: How has membership in the ABA Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice Section furthered your career?

I had a chance to work with leading academics, great litigators from private practice, and federal officials who were the backbone of their agencies’ compliance with administrative laws. I formed personal and professional relationships with these colleagues who were at the cutting edge of legal developments. They were always willing and able to steer me to precedents that substantially enhanced the power and persuasiveness of my written submissions. They taught me the power of a cohort group and how by working together we would further all our careers. In retirement, their advice is proving invaluable in helping me write a book on the 230 yearlong battle between Congress and the President for control of the administrative state.

Q: What was your favorite part of your job as an administrative litigator?

Working as an administrative litigator means that you have to stay on top of policy developments in many different regulatory schemes in the Congress, the administrative agencies, the White House and federal courts. For lawyers who want to devote their careers to helping formulate public policy and furthering the public interest, there is no better way to immerse yourself in the policy process. In preparing the pleadings, you also learn an enormous amount of information about the different business models of entities that operate in a regulatory field and about the development of new technologies and new approaches that agencies are called upon to regulate.

Q:  What was the best advice you got along the way?

Honesty is the best policy, in the fully loaded sense of the term “policy.”  Find and occupy the moral high ground in your case.

Q:  What was the most exciting event of your career that involves administrative law?

For four years, I represented the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Ministry of Finance in a case with civil, criminal, and administrative law implications that arose out of the former Glass-Steagall Act and involved federal regulation of a large French bank’s operations in the United States. I worked with senior career officials inside the French agencies and had a once in a lifetime opportunity to help coordinate agencies inside a foreign government. They operated in a manner that bore a strong resemblance to the functioning of their counterpart administrative agencies in the federal government, which I had learned how to coordinate while at OMB.

Want to join the section? Visit and choose “Join the Section.” Or contact the ABA customer service department at 1-800-285-2221 to join. Questions? Email

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