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Top Judiciary panel aide to lead new team at Covington & Burling

Aaron Cooper, a top Senate Judiciary Committee aide who was instrumental in passage of a major patent reform bill, is joining the law and lobby firm Covington & Burling.

Cooper, who was the chief intellectual property counsel for Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy MORE (D-Vt.), will lead a new team focused on intellectual property issues.

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He will work alongside former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and former Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who both joined the firm after leaving Congress this year. 

Cooper left the Judiciary panel on Friday and will join Covington on Dec. 9. 

“I had a terrific time on the Hill and a terrific time working for Sen. Leahy, but it’s time for me to return to the private sector,” Cooper told The Hill. 

He will be returning to his roots: Cooper he got his start at the firm as an associate in 2001. 

He later worked for then-Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) before joining the Judiciary Committee, where he’s been for more than seven years.  

He said his proudest moment was the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. He was the lead staffer on the bill, which was the most significant overhaul of the nation’s patent system in decades. 

Cooper was on the losing end of the battle over legislation to crackdown on online piracy. Leahy pushed the Protect IP Act (PIPA), the Senate’s counterpart to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), but a massive online protest forced Congress to drop the bills in 2012.

Cooper said he helped usher the piracy bill through committee but that the protest derailed the bill before it could receive a floor vote.

“Different industries are going to respond differently to what they perceive as legislation that’s going to be harmful to their interests,” Cooper said, alluding to the protest by Google and other websites. “What Sen. Leahy has always tried to do, and has instilled in me, is to make sure that we are working to address as many issues as we possibly can while still trying to achieve the overall objective.” 

In a joint statement, Kyl and Berman said Cooper was “among the most knowledgeable Senate staffers on intellectual property, antitrust and other issues of importance to U.S. and international business.”

“He was widely respected on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol for his substantive expertise and his ability to get things done,” they said. “We are very pleased to be reunited with him at Covington, and look forward to working with him again now, on behalf of our clients.”