Michelle Cohen Interviewed for Feature Profile by Emory Alumni Association
May 26, 2017
Describe your current position and one major lesson you have learned since assuming your role.
I am a member and chair of the E-Commerce practice at Ifrah PLLC, a Chambers-ranked boutique law firm specializing in litigation and governmental investigations in Washington, DC. I also serve as Vice President – Legal Affairs on the Board of the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, a non-profit originally founded as a political party by suffragist Alice Paul in furtherance of American suffrage.
Since assuming this particular role, I’ve learned how my legal education and skills can support a non-profit going through a transformation (the home of NWP recently became a national monument per President Obama’s proclamation on Equal Pay Day in April 2016). I assisted with the negotiations with the National Parks Service and the establishment of a public-private partnership to govern the relationship.What makes you most proud?
Personally, my family! Professionally, I’ve had amazing experiences practicing in DC. Most recently, I guided the National Woman’s Party through the general agreement that governs the relationship between the National Parks Service (which now runs the National Woman’s Party historic museum/house) and the National Woman’s Party (which retains ownership of the archives and intellectual property). A cooperative agreement now ensures that our suffrage banners, artifacts (such as Susan B. Anthony’s desk and jailhouse keys) will be available for educating generations to come.
Best career advice you’ve ever received?“You don’t get what you don’t ask for – make the ask.” This was actually advice from a wonderful male mentor. So many of us (especially women) don’t make the ask – for opportunities, referrals, or simply help. The worst that will happen is a no (which could change to a yes at a later time). At my law firm and at the National Woman’s Party Board – if there’s something that sounds like an opportunity of interest – I try to remember these words and “make the ask.” I find it usually leads to a “yes” and that people appreciate the ask as it shows initiative. One year ago I was invited to the Board and now I am a Vice President of the organization founded by Alice Paul. It’s been an amazing ride.
In closing, Cohen reflects, “I am so thankful for the wonderful education at Emory Law. No matter where I have worked – including 20 years in “Big Law” – I have always found I can go toe-to-toe with lawyers educated at any other law school. I appreciate the broad base of learning and the practical lessons – such as the trial advocacy program, as well as the scholarship on the Emory Law Journal.