- Joanna Hendon is representing President Donald Trump in the case against his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
- This came as a surprise to some who know her.
- But they say she’s up to the task.
It came as a surprise to some who know or have worked with Joanna Hendon that she would represent President Donald Trump in the case against his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
But Hendon, whom they described as “fantastic” and “highly competent,” is up to the task, they said.
“I was surprised, because I wouldn’t have known she had any contact with Trump,” a former colleague of Hendon’s from the US attorney’s office, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the case, told Business Insider, adding: “She’s very smart. She’s good. She knows the office. And she knows Kimba Wood – she’s familiar with the judge.”
Hendon first emerged on the scene last week when she argued before the US Southern District Court of New York on behalf of the president, seeking to have her client win the ability to review the documents seized in the FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room and determine what fell under attorney-client privilege.
A former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Hendon is a partner at Spears & Imes, a boutique firm focusing on white-collar criminal defence and civil litigation that has a staff of just 14 attorneys, according to its website.
The firm is highly regarded, being recognised by JD Journal as one of the top boutique firms in New York City.
“It would be a lot harder for Trump to have a lawyer representing him from a big firm, because most big firms, most large firms are not going to want to potentially alienate their client base by representing someone as controversial as Trump,” the former colleague of Hendon’s said.
Mitchell Epner, a former assistant US attorney for the District of New Jersey and an attorney at Rottenberg Lipman Rich, told Business Insider the firm was “a brand name” among white-collar boutiques.
“There are a few brand names – they are one of them,” he said.
Hendon’s partners, David Spears and Linda Imes, are former federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York as well. Last May, following Trump’s surprise firing of James Comey as FBI director, the two were among 180 former prosecutors from the district who signed a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein calling for the appointment of a special counsel. Rosenstein would soon appoint Robert Mueller to that role, and it was a referral from Mueller to the US attorney’s office that led to the Cohen raids earlier this month.
Hendon was not a signatory of the letter.
‘Make sure you get your money up front from him’
David Koenigsberg, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York who previously practiced with Spears and who knows Imes, said he was “somewhat surprised” to see Hendon representing Trump.
“But I think she’s obviously a very, very good lawyer,” said Koenigsberg, who is a partner at Menz Bonner Komar & Koenigsberg. “I was obviously thinking, ‘Why in this environment would you want to take on Trump as your client?’ But when you do criminal law, your clients obviously are not always going to be the most popular people in the world. I admire her professionalism, and there is an argument to be made from the civil-liberties side that maybe the government is overstepping and he’s entitled like anybody to a vigorous defence.”
Former colleagues made mention of her “strong reputation” and her respected status among alumni of the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
Steven Feldman, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York who is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s White Collar Committee, which Hendon cochairs, called Hendon a “fantastic pick” for Trump who is “an all-around superstar” in the “upper echelon” of white-collar defence attorneys in the city.
Others joked that Hendon needed to make sure she was paid in advance by Trump, who has been accused of stiffing contractors.
“Obviously, you read the papers,” Koenigsberg said. “Make sure you get your money up front from him.”
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