Pro Bono Net mourns the loss of our dear friend and founding Board Chair, Michael Cooper, on Monday, November 16, 2020.

Mike’s deep understanding of the justice gap, unmatched personal credibility and openness to new ideas were critical during Pro Bono Net’s early years.  “Mike was so generous to agree to be our first Board Chair when we were just starting out as an organization,” said Michael Hertz, the co-founder of Pro Bono Net.  “He cared so deeply about access to justice and the need for innovative solutions that he took a bet on us.  His tremendous judgment guided us through many challenges as a new organization.”

Mike served on our board for more than 18 years, retiring in 2017, and we are thankful for his outstanding leadership, wisdom and friendship,” said Pro Bono Net Board Chair Dave Heiner. “Mike was a great mentor to me when I was a young lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and mentored me again years later when I took on the Pro Bono Net Board Chair role.  All of us at Pro Bono Net will greatly miss Mike.

Mike joined Sullivan & Cromwell in 1961, after graduating from Harvard Law School, and served as managing partner of the Litigation Group from 1978 to 1985.  Mike’s dedication extended well beyond the firm’s clients: helped to found the firm’s pro bono practice, he served as President of the City Bar from 1998 to 2000 and he held top leadership roles in numerous organizations including The Legal Aid Society, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Volunteers of Legal Services.  Among the many pro bono matters he handled during his career, he took particular pride in his representation of Guantánamo detainee Adel El Ouerghi in 2005.

Mike was a strong advocate for Pro Bono Net from the beginning and helped to shape the organization’s work and build a strong board to support its mission. Mike’s reflections on our 15th anniversary can be found here.

Mike will be greatly missed by the Pro Bono Net family, the legal community, and the many organizations where he generously volunteered his time. We extend our condolences to his wife Nan, his family and colleagues at Sullivan & Cromwell.

Mark O’Brien
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Pro Bono Net