Crystal clear: Attorney found calling early on in life


 By Jeanine Matlow

Legal News
For some, the road to success is paved from the start. That was the case for Mark G. Cooper, a partner at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer, & Weiss in Southfield, who knew as a child that he wanted a professional, meaningful career that was respected and challenging.  
Though he considered other avenues, the law won out in the end. 
“Eventually being an attorney hit the right cord with me in terms of problem-solving, respectability, advancement, and overall job satisfaction,” says Cooper who practices commercial litigation, handling issues such as property disputes, business torts and contract disputes as well as construction-related and insurance-related issues.
Cooper graduated cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law (then known as the Detroit College of Law). Though he originally hails from St. Louis and had no intention of staying in town, he met his wife Jennifer on a blind date during his last semester of law school.
“She is a Detroit native and I got a good job offer, so more than 20 years later, I’m still here,” he says. 
Together they have three children: Isabelle, 14, Lily, 12 and William, 9.
Cooper reaches out to other kids with his involvement in the Winning Futures program that came to his attention through his partner, James Parks, who is a long-standing board member of the organization.  
Winning Futures was a great fit for Cooper because, as he explains, they were looking for professionals to attend a class at a charter school and serve as mentors to students who were being taught life skills through a business-education model.  
Similarly, the Street Law Program sponsored largely by Allstate Insurance and supported by his partner, Harold Pope, brought a group of young students to their firm for a day-long seminar and process where they engaged in a real-life legal issue and role played with help, even performing a mini trial at the end.  
“The concept of the organization is to teach young people early on about democracy, the law, and how to think about and approach problems,” says Cooper. “I enjoyed the hands-on experience of those projects and hope to keep doing things like that.” 
Cooper is a founding member of the Insurance and Indemnity Law Section and currently sits on its council as the immediate past chair.  
He is also involved with the State Bar, including some recent programs where he was asked to speak (most recently to an invited group brought together by the Michigan Supreme Court’s State Court Administrative Office, Office of Dispute Resolution). This deals with some issues directly pertinent to the new roll out of business courts in certain circuit courts. 
In his spare time, Cooper still enjoys riding mountain bikes on occasion, a hobby he adopted in college that gave him a great excuse to travel out west. 
“As I started getting older and as job and family stresses got larger, I found that mountain biking was the one hobby where while you are doing it, it is the only thing you can think about, so it provided a great escape,” he says.   
Somehow he manages to handle the pressures of his profession while making quite the impression on his colleagues and friends. Jim Parks, a partner in the firm who worked very closely with Cooper on a lengthy trial that involved a great deal of travel, says, “He is one of the finest trial lawyers I’ve ever met. He is so organized and totally unflappable and quick on his feet.”
When Parks approached Cooper to work with Winning Futures, he was up for the challenge. 
“He jumped at the chance and he was an excellent mentor for Winning Futures, helping to make a difference in children’s lives,” says Parks. 
“He is very generous with his time outside of work. He is involved in all kinds of charitable causes,” Parks adds. “It’s a big deal here. One of our missions is to make sure we give back.”  
They also find time to laugh. 
“He has a hell of a sense of humor. Most people don’t know that about him. He’s hysterical,” Parks says.