10 Questions with Emily Cooper

2011-10Q
1. During your career, you’ve worked at a large law firm, in-house, for a legal aid organization, and now you own a law firm. How did these different experiences help you develop skills you use today?

When I first graduated from law school, I did not know what I wanted to do and had no practical experience. The different environments that I worked in allowed me to understand myself, how to apply my legal training and skills and who I wanted to serve. It has allowed me to be more mission-driven and to have a bigger picture view of the impact I want to make with my legal training.

2. Your law firm offers a low bono, sliding fee structure; can you discuss how that came about?
After experiencing people of all different walks of life and having to hire attorneys for my own legal needs, I realized that the cost of an attorney is something the majority of households cannot afford. Looking at the statistics of how many people are handling their own cases pro se reflects a growing need for affordable legal representation. With that in mind, I set out to create a law firm that is driven by the clients we encounter to meet them where they are. We craft our fees to reflect the client’s financial situation by offering sliding scale fees.

3. If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
I think I have hit the point where I am what I am. I don’t consider myself a “lawyer” but more of an entrepreneur, so I am exactly what I want to be.

4. Your firm has an office dog, Rufus. What’s his story?
Rufus was a gift from a good friend to help me when I was battling cancer in 2019. He is now my daily walking companion, leftover cleaner upper, and constant spirit lifter. Rufus comes to the office with me daily and he cheers up the staff (he especially loves lunch time). We also help people who are applying for social security disability benefits and he has been well-received by people, especially those with anxiety, when they come to the office. There is nothing like having a big, lovable dog trying to get a scratch on the head from you. Rufus is actually quite popular in our office building and frequently has visitors bringing him treats.

5. You served on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Committee for Equality and Justice. What do you see as your role in promoting its mission?
I am a huge supporter of leveling the playing field for everyone within the court system. Justice should not be based on a person’s color or socioeconomic status. The mission of my law firm in providing affordable legal services is one way that I strive to carry out the goals of access to justice.

6. You majored in international studies at Macalester. What is your favorite country to visit?
My favorite places that I have visited to date are Italy and Austria but I’m hoping that Spain tops them when I get a chance to go there.

7. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
If not for the pandemic, I would say traveling. Since I am stuck at home, I enjoy gardening, walking, exploring places with my son, and I love a good nap.

8. What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 (Please note, I am not at all religious.) I saw this quote while watching the series “Unbelievable” on Netflix and it summed up much of what I feel about what I want to accomplish before I go.

9. If you were asked to deliver a TED talk of your choice,
what would the title be?
Happiness is a Choice

10. What advice would you give to a new law school
graduate?

• Pick up the phone.
• Say yes, even if it is scary.
• Every “mistake” I have ever made has produced
an opportunity that was unexpected.