Professional Biography

Barak Cohen Partner

Firmwide Chair, Cannabis Industry Group; Litigation Lead, Washington, D.C.



Barak Cohen is a partner in Perkins’s Coie’s White Collar & Investigations practice, lead for commercial litigation in the firm's Washington, D.C., office, and chair of Perkins Coie’s Cannabis industry group, which he helped establish. As a former prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice, Barak led numerous white collar investigations in jurisdictions throughout the U.S. His background informs his representation of companies and individuals in international and U.S.-based internal investigations and high-stakes government investigations involving the Department of Justice, Congress, state legislative committees, and federal agency inspectors general. Barak also represents clients in the parallel civil litigation that often accompanies government investigations. His government background gives him particular experience in providing compliance advice and drafting policies that help companies anticipate and avoid government scrutiny.

Barak’s white collar defense and investigations experience has most recently focused on matters involving the healthcare and consumer finance industries; public corruption, conflicts-of-interest, and ethics investigations involving senior public officials; international investigations relating to foreign corruption and bid-rigging in diverse locations such as Latin America, Asia, Russia and Europe; and election crimes. Barak is co-chair of the Public Corruption Subcommittee of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Committee.

Additionally, Barak has significant internal investigation and compliance experience helping national and international companies involved in the cannabis industry (including marijuana, CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol), and hemp products and services), such as food-and-beverage companies, investment banks, financial payment processors, and dispensaries, among others. Barak identified the growth potential in the cannabis industry at an early stage, and has become a go-to attorney for companies in the industry. Barak is a member of the National Cannabis Industry’s Policy Council, and is the editor of the American Bar Association’s forthcoming treatise on cannabis law, a first-of-its-kind publication.

Barak previously served as a prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, where he investigated, prosecuted and tried sensitive white-collar criminal offenses involving public corruption on a national level. In jurisdictions throughout the country, he tried numerous cases to verdict before juries, argued and drafted appeals and complex motions, and managed sensitive grand-jury investigations that necessitated coordinating multiple law-enforcement agencies and government regulators. These matters often concerned high-profile figures, such as presidential appointees, senior defense officials, government contractors, judges, legislators, lobbyists and political aides.

Before serving in the Public Integrity Section, Barak prosecuted cybercrimes. In that role, he was detailed to the FBI’s Cyber Division, instructed prosecutors and law-enforcement agents regarding privacy law and the search-and-seizure of internet and computer evidence, and gained experience examining and cross-examining internet and computer forensic experts at trial. He also gained significant experience presenting evidence and making arguments related to complex technologies to judges and juries.

Before becoming an attorney, Barak served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Barak established Perkins Coie’s firmwide Veterans’ Affinity Group to help promote veterans’ issues.

National news media regularly call on Barak to provide commentary and insight regarding current legal issues.

Professional Recognition

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2020: Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Listed in Expert Guides (Euromoney Institutional Investor’s Legal Media Group), "Rising Stars," 2015 - 2016
  • Listed in Washington D.C. Super Lawyers, White Collar Crimes, 2015 - 2020
  • Recognized with three U.S. Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards, 2009 - 2013

Professional Leadership

  • National Cannabis Industry Association Policy Council, Member
  • Public Corruption Subcommittee of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Committee, Co-Chair
  • Edward Bennett Williams American Inn of Court, Member
  • American Bar Association, Member 
  • District of Columbia Bar Association, Member
  • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Executive Leadership Program

Community Involvement

  • The Barristers
  • West Point Society of the District of Columbia, Member
  • Wounded Warrior Mentor Program, Volunteer

Related Employment

  • U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Washington, D.C., Trial Attorney, 2008 - 2014
  • Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, 2006 - 2008
  • Kirkland & Ellis LLP, 2003 - 2006


  • Hon. Loren Smith, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 2002 - 2003





Bar and Court Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • California
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims


  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., Dean's List, 2002
  • Georgetown University, M.A., National Security Studies, 1997
  • United States Military Academy, West Point, B.S., Literature / Systems Engineering, 1992