Jamie Cooper’s Career Is Happy ‘Accident’ 9/16/15 09/16/15 9:34:57 AM
Printer Friendly Version
Jamie Cooper works long hours doing what she loves as a young solo practitioner of law.
Jamie Cooper’s Career Is Happy ‘Accident’
By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
Jamie Cooper became a lawyer “by accident,” and yet she couldn’t be happier with the direction her life has taken.
Born in Lincoln, she moved to Omaha after high school to attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I didn’t want to become a doctor … I am horrible at science.” A friend told her that if she majored in Spanish, she could study abroad.
“That’s when I got the travel itch,” she added. “I spent a summer abroad in Mexico.”
Just before graduation, she took the LSAT. Wanting to move out of Omaha, she began looking into law schools in larger cities. She was accepted at Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago.
“I interviewed at the school and loved it. It was only after I was accepted that I found out it was a really good school,” she said. “While at Northwestern, I became interested in juvenile justice. I interned at the Children & Family Justice Center at Northwestern’s Bluhm Legal Clinic.
“I was involved in two murder cases and one attempted murder case. They really opened my eyes as to what was going on in our communities. The kids involved were not bad kids, not criminals. Some committed crimes because of the environment they were in, others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
She spent her last semester of law school in Puerto Rico. “I clerked for Magistrate Judge Marcos Lopez at the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, while completing a project on the juvenile detention facilities on the island,” she said. “I try to go back there often. I have lifetime friends there.”
Employment brought her back to Omaha after law school. While the economy had collapsed, she said, “I was fortunate enough to have a job after graduation.” She practiced in the field of employment litigation for three years at a law firm before starting her own practice.
“Everyone thought I was crazy to leave the firm life,” she said. But she had friends who had started their own practices and she decided to follow suit.
“I met Tracy Hightower at an Omaha Bar Association event my first year out of law school. She had left the corporate route and started her own practice. We stayed in touch and, when I began thinking about hanging out my own shingle, she was supportive and took me under her wing. Tracy, and my good friend Ross Pesek – whom I had met during a summer internship program years earlier – helped me to get started. They introduced me to other attorneys, judges and bailiffs, and taught me different areas of law. I thought it would be much more competitive being a solo practitioner.”
It wasn’t, she was surprised to find. “Attorneys are much friendlier outside of large firms,” she found.
Three years ago this month, she started Cooper Law. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I love it,” she said. “The practice is doing very well, and business has been mostly by word of mouth. I do some criminal work, about 20 percent; divorce, custody and child support, about 40 percent; and juvenile justice about 40 percent. I’m doing trials, and I’m in court a lot, sometimes five times a day. I work long hours, but it’s worth it.”
Cooper may have chosen her career by “accident,” but she maintains that it has been her strong faith that has made the difference.
“It has all worked out,” she said. “I feel blessed. The first few years [before she found her niche] I hated being a lawyer, but now I’m happy that I can make a living doing what I like. My clients often come to see me during the worst moments of their lives. I like making them feel comfortable, knowing they will receive great representation. I’m very honest, and I work hard to get them the best outcome.”
As busy as she is, Cooper still finds time to take leadership positions in her community. “There is a lot of work to be done in Omaha,” she said. “A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to help her revamp the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to social and economic empowerment of Nebraska’s disenfranchised communities. She started as its vice president and, this year, became its president.
“I also participated in the Omaha Chamber’s Leadership Omaha Class 36, [where] I made a ton of lifelong friends. I was voted most outgoing in the class,” she disclosed.
Although her legal practice keeps her busy, Cooper’s love for Spanish and travel persists. She is a world traveler, having spent time on many Caribbean islands and in Africa. She wants to tackle South America next.
“My goal is to travel to every South American country before I die,” she said. “I like Spanish culture, and the beach and ocean. I like that people are very laid back, like to have fun, and are family oriented.”
For more information about Cooper Law, please go to: www.cooperlawomaha.com or call (402) 932-9133. Her office is located at 1904 Farnam St., Suite 620, in downtown Omaha.