Michelle W. Cohen
"A client once told me that I am the most practical lawyer they've ever had -- a goal I strive to meet each day."
Michelle W. Cohen unfailing dedication to her clients is illustrated by this fact: her very first client – whom she represented over 25 years ago, as a first-year associate – remains an active client today. Throughout her career, she has established similarly strong, lasting client relationships by committing herself to understanding each client’s business goals, minimizing legal risk and delivering exceptional service.
At Ifrah Law, Michelle’s practice focuses on helping clients establish powerful and enduring relationships with their customers and prospects while remaining compliant with state and federal law governing privacy and advertising laws and regulations.
As Practice Group leader for the Firm’s Data Privacy & Cyber Security group, Michelle helps clients create compliant digital policies and practices for their online terms and conditions, sweepstakes and contests, social media, and customer communications through the use of various media, including telemarketing, texts and emails, and social media. She also handles state-level data regulations, including breach notifications, and assists clients with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance and notifications.
Michelle has extensive experience defending individual and class actions in the consumer protection context, including dozens of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) cases, beginning from when the TCPA was first implemented. Her litigation experience helps clients avoid enforcement actions and minimize civil litigation by proactively implementing policies and procedures that demonstrate good faith compliance efforts. Her counsel is critical when those clients face enforcement proceedings by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or state agencies. She draws on deep legal knowledge and a strong footing in the privacy community to resolve these issues expediently.
Some of Michelle’s representative matters include:
- Swiftly resolved a potential class action suit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 when discovery established that the superior compliance protocols Michelle instituted on her client’s behalf fit within the “fax broadcaster defense” that protects fax broadcasters from TCPA liability.
- Represented a financial services company in numerous matters involving alleged violations of the TCPA in connection with debt servicing calls, and consistently negotiated satisfactory resolutions through arbitration and litigation.
- Obtained a highly unusual rescission of an FCC citation in an FCC TCPA enforcement matter.
- Led a full-scale review of a global client’s customer communications to ensure federal and state compliance, with a special focus on the TCPA and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR); educated company leaders on TCPA requirements, wrote call center guidelines and controls, and helped the client launch a company-wide training program, well in advance of TCPA rule changes.
- Developed successful online promotions programs including a celebrity endorsement sweepstakes campaign for which she crafted sweepstakes rules and reviewed promotional materials to ensure compliance with state and federal sweepstakes laws, as well as social networks’ policies and requirements.
- Represented the seller in the acquisition of an affiliate marketing company by a publicly traded company in a deal valued at approximately $6.5 million.
- Resolved through settlement an FTC case against a corporate officer which involved personal privacy issues under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
- Defended an affiliate marketer in a lawsuit alleging unauthorized use of a celebrity’s image.
- As leader of Ifrah Law’s special GDPR Services, Michelle guides companies that collect, store, or utilize the personal data of European residents on compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In her role as Firm Personnel Partner and VP of Legal Affairs for a national non-profit, Michelle’s matters have also included:
- Handling internal investigations involving allegations of workplace harassment, violations of company codes of conduct, and invocations of whistleblower protections.
- Drafting codes of ethics and behavior, in addition to counseling companies of all sizes on how to maintain harassment-free workplaces for all of their employees.
- Creating employment and consulting agreements, as well as separation agreements.
- Overseeing corporate governance and compliance matters, including adherence to by-laws and legal mandates prescribed by court orders.
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Awards + Recognitions
- National Law Journal Elite Boutique Trailblazers, 2020
- The National Law Journal-The D.C. Area’s Top Rated Lawyers, 2022-2023
- Corporate Counsel and ALM – Washington DC’s Women Leaders in the Law, 2013, 2019-2023
- Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP-U.S.), International Association of Privacy Professionals, 2008-present
- Top Author, JD Supra Readers’ Choice Award, 2017
- National Law Journal, Top Rated Lawyer, 2017-2021
- Cablefax Top Rated Lawyer, 2017-2018
- National Law Journal, Top Rated Litigator, 2016
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, 2008-present
- J.D., Emory University School of Law, with distinction, Editor-in-Chief, Emory Law Journal, Fyr Scholar, 1992
- B.A., magna cum laude, with Highest Honors in French, with Honors in English, Brandeis University, 1989
Admitted to Practice
- District of Columbia
- New York
- Thompson Hine LLP, Partner
- Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, Associate/Counsel
- Vice President, Legal – Executive Committee, National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
- Board of Directors and Member, Governance Committee, Aspire! Afterschool Learning (non-profit focused on language and literacy for low-income elementary school children)
- Member, International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) – Publications Advisory Board
- Member, Emory Law Alumni Board
- Editorial Board Member, Digital Business Lawyer (formerly E-Commerce Law & Policy)
- Editorial Board Member, Payments & FinTech Lawyer (formerly E-finance & Payments Law & Policy)
- Women in Cable and Telecommunications Past Board Member Washington, D.C. – Baltimore Chapter
- Federal Communications Bar Association
- District of Columbia Bar
- New York State Bar Association
- Women’s Bar Association of DC
- Volunteer, Special Olympics
- Brandeis University Alumni Admissions Council
- Pro Bono Volunteer through the District of Columbia Bar
- Former Board member for the Law Firms Division of the United Way, National Capitol Area
Feb 23, 2024
When Gamers Become Plaintiffs – Arbitration Clauses for the Win
Jul 10, 2023
Got Endorsers? Federal Trade Commission Issues Updated Advertising Guides
Jun 23, 2023
INFORM Consumers Act – Is Your Company Ready for June 27 Compliance?
May 18, 2023
Appeals Court Tells Elon Musk –A Deal Is A Deal: SEC Consent Decree Sticks
Ifrah Law Represents Seller in Multi-Million Dollar Acquisition of Affiliate Marketing Company by Publicly Traded International iGaming Corporation
As the legislative climate for iGaming improves across the U.S., Ifrah Law frequently represents companies seeking to take advantage of the opportunities available in the profitable nexus between affiliate marketing and online gaming. Its lawyers’ in-depth knowledge of the industry as well as applicable gaming laws makes it the go-to firm for building profitable businesses in the affiliate marketing and iGaming industries, which are increasingly attractive to larger buyers.
Clients turn to the firm to create meaningful agreements, often in an accelerated time frame, which provide value to buyers while at the same time encouraging sellers to continue innovating.
As an example, Ifrah Law represented an affiliate marketing company in a $6.5 million acquisition by an international gaming company, a deal the buyer said confirmed its position as the number one player in U.S. iGaming lead generation.
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Ongoing Defense of TCPA Claims against Financial Services Company
Ifrah Law represents a financial services company in several matters involving claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) which allege violations in connection with debt servicing calls. We are currently litigating and arbitrating over 25 cases for this client in many jurisdictions across the United States.
The potential collective cost to the client is significant in TCPA cases, which allow for statutory damages of up to $500 per call, and $1500 per call if a violation is deemed willful.
Ifrah Law’s team has been consistently successful in negotiating satisfactory resolutions of many of these claims. We have also succeeded in attaining positive results for our client in arbitration proceedings. We have litigated or arbitrated these matters in states such as Florida, Maryland, Illinois, Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia.
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Swift Resolution of a Potential TCPA Class Action
A plaintiff alleged that Ifrah Law’s longtime client, a company that provides fax and voice broadcast services to Fortune 500 businesses, sent faxes to her cellular phone without consent and in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”). Claiming she represented a class who had also received these faxes, she sought statutory damages under consumer protection laws aimed at preventing unsolicited communications.
Years earlier, Ifrah Law had helped this client anticipate potential challenges under the TCPA, and helped mitigate its risk by ensuring its business model fit within the “fax broadcaster defense,” which protects innocent fax broadcasters from TCPA liability.
During discovery for this putative class action, it became apparent that our client had instituted superior compliance protocols, and the matter settled swiftly for a nominal amount.
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