Whitey Bulger’s attorney joins Boston office of law firm Cooley


Cooley continues her hiring wave, adding former federal prosecutor and Department of Justice official Zachary Hafer to the firm as a partner in Boston.

Hafer is from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, where he was the head of the criminal division. He will focus his practice on complex litigation, white-collar defense and investigations, and trial work, the firm said.

During his 14 years as a federal prosecutor, Hafer handled some high-profile criminal cases, including the 2013 prosecution of James “Whitey” Bulger. The organized crime boss and FBI informant has been tried on 32 counts of racketeering, money laundering and other counts, including aiding and abetting 19 murders. He was then killed in prison.

“Zach served at the highest levels of the public service in one of the most respected US attorney’s offices in the country. He has led the investigation and prosecution of some of the most high-profile and complex cases in New England and the United States, ”said Michael Attanasio, chairman of Cooley’s global litigation department, in a statement.

Attanasio said Hafer’s experience “will further support Cooley’s strategic growth in Boston and on the East Coast more broadly.”

California-based Cooley has hired 30 new partners for its litigation group in offices across the country over the past three years, Luke Cardigan, the firm’s East Coast commercial litigation manager, said in an interview. The additions include prominent former prosecutors like Russell Capone, who joined the firm in July.

The firm has offices on the East Coast in New York, Boston, Washington and Reston and, also, in Chicago, in the Midwest.

Hafer has also overseen the investigation and prosecution of cases, including the ongoing Varsity Blues College admissions scandal and the 2019 healthcare fraud case against several Insys Therapeutics Inc. executives involved in the paying doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid pain reliever.

As the head of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office from early 2018, Hafer has overseen around 100 deputy U.S. prosecutors. He also oversaw all criminal investigations and indictment decisions.

Hafer served as a law clerk for a federal district court judge before joining Debevoise & Plimpton as a litigation partner. He then joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

“There is an energy, a momentum and an excitement,” Hafer said of why he joined Cooley. “I have been impressed with Cooley’s dedication to developing his litigation and white collar capacity on the East Coast and nationally,” he told Bloomberg Law.

“The company is identified with exciting companies in the fields of technology, biopharmacy and life sciences,” said Hafer, and has a “growing team of top practitioners, many of whom are from former prosecutors and senior government officials “.

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