Press Release

Cooley Adds Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chief Counsel to Growing Congressional Investigations Practice

April 18, 2024

Washington, DC – April 18, 2024 – Cooley has welcomed another Capitol Hill veteran to its recently launched congressional investigations practice with the addition of Heather Sawyer in the firm’s Washington, DC, office. Sawyer spent more than a dozen years in senior leadership positions in the US House and Senate, including most recently serving as chief counsel and staff director to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sawyer arrives from American Oversight, a nonpartisan, nonprofit government accountability organization, where she served as executive director. As special counsel at Cooley, Sawyer will focus on advising the firm’s clients as they navigate high-stakes investigations launched by Congress and federal and state agencies, focusing on matters involving significant reputational issues and media scrutiny.

“Heather brings a unique combination of talent and extensive firsthand experience managing high-profile investigations across both chambers of Congress, which will be particularly beneficial to our innovative client base as they look to Cooley to navigate increasing scrutiny from Congress and federal and state agencies,” said Michael Attanasio, chair of Cooley’s global litigation department. “We have already seen an increased demand following the formal launch of our congressional investigations practice earlier this year, and Heather’s capabilities perfectly complement the global team of elite, next-generation litigators we have added in recent years.”

“Having worked alongside Heather on the Hill, there is no doubt that her inside perspective and experience will be tremendously valuable to our cutting-edge clients facing high-stakes congressional inquiries under the glare of public scrutiny,” said Susanne Sachsman Grooms, leader of Cooley’s congressional investigations practice. “She brings an unparalleled understanding of how congressional committees operate and of our current political and media environment. We are thrilled to welcome her to this growing practice.”

During her years in leadership positions on Capitol Hill, Sawyer managed a wide range of congressional investigations and held numerous senior-level roles in the House and Senate. Most recently, while serving as chief counsel and staff director to the Senate Judiciary Committee, she oversaw strategy for legislative and oversight hearings and closed-door sessions, including the plan to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sawyer also is recognized for her work as a civil rights attorney, most notably for her work fighting for protections for the LGBTQ+ community and those living with HIV.

“It is clear that Congress is focused on innovative, cutting-edge technology, social media and generative AI companies – all areas where Cooley’s clients are leading the way,” said Sawyer. “During this time of heightened congressional scrutiny, I am excited to work with Cooley’s dynamic clients as part of this elite congressional investigations practice and the talented and diverse team of attorneys across the firm’s global litigation department.”

Cooley’s congressional investigations practice guides clients through high-profile, high-stakes investigations and mitigates the associated legal, business and reputational risks. The team has deep familiarity and direct experience with the investigative committees in both chambers of Congress. More broadly, Cooley counsels clients across all aspects of white collar and regulatory defense, including complex government and internal investigations, regulatory enforcement actions and prosecutions. The Cooley team includes fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers and 20+ former assistant US attorneys and Department of Justice lawyers ensuring the firm is protecting clients’ interests and delivering meaningful results. 

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