Patrick appoints Cowan chief legal counsel

Issue December 2009

Boston attorney William "Mo" Cowan was recently named Gov. Deval Patrick's chief legal counsel, leaving his partnership at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.

Cowan worked in Mintz Levin's Litigation Section, where he chaired the Anti-Money Laundering Compliance and Counseling practice group. He formerly chaired Mintz Levin's Hiring Committee and served on the firm's Diversity Committee.

Cowan served as a special assistant district attorney with the Middlesex District Attorney's Office in 2000 and is a former president of both the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and the Northeastern University School of Law Alumni Association. He currently serves as a member of the Northeastern University Corp. (the university's governing body).

He has also served as a director and/or trustee of several nonprofit organizations, including the Discovering Justice Foundation, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, Project STEP, Boston Bar Association, Boston Bar Foundation, Boston Lawyers Group, Victim Rights Law Center, Volunteer Lawyers Project and the New England Minority Purchasing Council Inc. He is a graduate of Duke University and Northeastern University School of Law.

"I am thrilled that Mo Cowan is coming on board," Patrick said. "Mo is an accomplished attorney, trusted advisor and committed civic leader. He will be an excellent addition to our team."

Cowan follows former Chief Legal Counsel Ben Clements and Deputy Chief Counsel Michael Pineault, who resigned to return to private practice and jointly launch a new law firm.

Carmen M. Ortiz confirmed as U.S. attorney

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Carmen Milagros Ortiz as the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts. She was nominated by President Barack Obama on Sept. 17.

Prior to her confirmation, Ortiz was an assistant U.S. attorney for 12 years, most recently in the Economic Crimes Unit. Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Ortiz was a senior trial attorney at Morisi & Associates PC from 1995 through 1997, working on civil, criminal and governmental agency litigation.

Ortiz recalled speaking with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy about public service when he called to tell her that he and Sen. John F. Kerry had forwarded her name to Obama.

"I continue to be inspired by his commitment to this great nation and the citizens of Massachusetts, including his efforts to ensure that all citizens, including those less fortunate, have a voice in our public institutions," she said. "I told Sen. Kennedy that if confirmed, I would make him proud - and I intend to honor his legacy. I will work tirelessly on behalf of the Department of Justice to serve with fervor, passion and integrity, answering what I consider to be the greatest calling - public service."

Ortiz was an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, where she was director of district courts. She was also a member of the "October Surprise" team for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 1992, investigating allegations that the Reagan/Bush campaign of 1980 sought to delay the release of the hostages in Iran to affect that year's election.

At Harvard Law School's Center for Criminal Justice from 1989 through 1991, she worked on the Harvard/Guatemala Criminal Justice Project, which helped the Guatemala judiciary implement criminal justice reforms in that country.

In 1991, on behalf of the National Football League, Ortiz investigated sexual harassment allegations made by a sportswriter against the New England Patriots. Ortiz started her legal career as a trial attorney in the Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division. She is a graduate of George Washington University Law School and has been practicing law since 1981.