Neil A. Cooper is Executive partner at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld (RCCB), a Philadelphia law firm. Comprised of a diverse group of entrepreneurially minded attorneys, RCCB is dedicated to providing innovative solutions to emerging growth and middle market organizations, as well as executives, investors and high net worth individuals and families, with an emphasis on business insight and real world results. Neil leads the firm alongside his three co-founders: John E. Royer, Jr., Barry L. Cohen, and Roger J. Braunfeld. Prior to starting RCCB, and its predecessors, Neil was General Counsel of a publicly traded software company. He started his career at Morgan Lewis, a leading international law firm.
Neil Cooper spoke with Jeff Mack, Executive Managing Director at Newmark Grubb Frank, for this interview.
JEFF MACK: Tell us about RCCB. What do you focus on at the firm?
NEIL COOPER: We work on business law and many other different types of law where we do litigation, private client services, trust and estate planning, tax, and employment law. We’re working with a lot of emerging growth and middle market companies on their deals, their mergers and acquisitions, their financings. We work with executives on their employment arrangements and their equity deals. We work with individuals who are both investors and also on their estate planning matters and their family matters. So, it’s a wide range of things, but we have a core offering for emerging growth, middle market companies, investors, and executives.
Q. How did the firm get its start?
A. The roots of the firm go back quite a while. We started in the early 2000s when I started my own firm, coming out of a large firm, and then I was a general counsel of a software company. While I was at the software company, I realized that there was what I viewed as a hole in the market for companies that need sophisticated advice by highly trained lawyers, but need them on a very fast basis and cost effectively. While there are a lot of good lawyers out there, it can be hard to find lawyers who are ready to respond very quickly to both large and small matters and do that cost effectively. I started a firm back in about 2003, working with a lot of emerging growth and middle market companies. That just grew over time, and in about 2008–2009, I merged with another partner who had a similar concept, who had been at a couple of different large firms and had also been a general counsel at a couple of different technology companies. He saw the market similarly, and we decided to merge together and grow something bigger. Over time the mix of different companies that we represent has changed a little bit, but that core fundamental focus on emerging growth companies and middle market companies has been there at all times.
Q. How did you and the other partners first get in touch?
A. I met my partners in a very organic way. The partner that I was telling you about a moment ago— we met while we were both general counsel of technology companies, and so we had very similar backgrounds and realized that we had a lot in common. We had very similar outlooks to approaching the market, and it was sort of an organic thing that happened over a number of years. One of the others partners I met in a philanthropic organization: we were doing charity work together and we clicked. He happened also to be a lawyer, and when I told him about what we were doing, he was very excited about it because he’d been searching for an entrepreneurial avenue to explore things that he wanted to accomplish in his career—things he felt like he had not been able to accomplish at that point—and he was very excited, and things happened over a little bit of time, and he decided to join us. It was very similar with our fourth partner as well. We met him over time, and when he heard about our concept, he knew that he wanted to do something that was different than what he’d been doing for quite a while. He had been at a large firm in Philadelphia.
Q. How do you divide roles among the partners? What differentiates what you do?
A. There’s the obvious answer to what we do differently: each one of us has a practice area that’s a little bit different. I do corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, financings. I work on employment matters. Another one of my partners is a litigator who will do commercial disputes and intellectual property disputes both in court and outside of court. Another one of my partners is a tax lawyer. Some of our other colleagues are real estate lawyers. So, there’s the practice area differences, and then we each have our own style and our own emphases on different areas of law and how we practice. Even in those areas where we have partners who overlap who do similar things, we do them a little bit differently.
Q. RCCB has grown quite a bit since it was founded. How large is the firm today?
A. When we started the firm, Jeff, it was about seven or eight lawyers. We always knew that we wanted to grow larger because we wanted to have more practice area breadth in different types of practice areas and we also wanted to have more depth in individual practice areas. In addition to that, we felt we wanted to have different geographic representations. Today, the firm is 20 lawyers and still growing. It depends on the day when I count—whether it’s 20, 21, 22—because we constantly have new lawyers joining us, which is very exciting and also challenging, but we continue to grow. We had started with one office in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, right outside of Philadelphia. We’re now in our brand new office here in Philadelphia, which we’re very excited about. We just moved in about a month ago. We’re in the process of recruiting some additional lawyers in Manhattan in New York City, and we hope to launch an effort in New York City pretty soon.