FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
Rachel  Cotton

Rachel Cotton

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP

Washington, DC, USA


A dedicated litigator, Rachel F. Cotton represents individuals and corporations in government investigations, criminal prosecutions, and complex civil disputes.

Rachel also helps attorneys carefully navigate the professional responsibility challenges that confront them. She advises both lawyers and law firms on professional ethics, legal malpractice and disciplinary investigations.

Prior to joining Zuckerman Spaeder, Rachel was a litigation associate at Covington & Burling LLP, where she represented corporate clients in internal and government investigations and defended state government clients in litigation related to the administration of Medicaid.

Before attending law school, Ms. Cotton was the deputy press secretary to a U.S. senator. She also served as a press assistant for the 2004 presidential campaign.


  • Represent the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of a trust in an internal investigation into allegations of insider trading and compliance issues.
  • Represented a professional athlete in a civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault.
  • Convinced the Washington DC Board of Ethics and Government Accountability that it had no jurisdiction to impose discipline against a city councilmember in a highly publicized controversy arising out of the award of a contract by the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
  • Led the successful representation of a large law firm in arbitration of claims made by a departed partner of the firm. The matter involved partnership and ethics issues, age discrimination, and the right of the law firm to arbitrate the claims of the departed partner.
  • Settled claims against a newspaper publisher and former CEO accused of misappropriating company funds for personal expenses.
  • Represented a large shareholder in a public company in a grand jury investigation regarding the possible short sales or insider transactions involving loans to executives. The government declined to seek an indictment.



  • Ethics Issues for Immigration AttorneysNonimmigrant Visa Practice ManualDistrict of Columbia Bar, 2014
  • ABA Formal Opinion 464 and Nonlawyer Partners: If You Can’t Have One, Can You Work With a Firm ‎That Does?‎ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional ConductDecember 18, 2013
  • Ethics Issues for Immigration AttorneysFamily-Based Immigration Law: A Lawyer's GuideDistrict of Columbia Bar, 2013


  • Fees: All About Getting Paid EthicallyDC Bar CLE OfficeJune 13, 2016
  • Money Matters: Ethics in Fees and BillingApril 5, 2016
  • What You Don't Know Can Hurt You (And Your Managing Partner Too): Mistakes That You Don't Know You're MakingZuckerman Spaeder LLPMay 6, 2015
  • Procrastinators Rejoice! Ethics Seminar for Virginia CLEZuckerman Spaeder LLPOctober 31, 2014
  • Procrastinators Rejoice! Ethics Seminar Series for Virginia CLEZuckerman Spaeder LLPOctober 31, 2013
  • Contacts with Represented and Unrepresented PersonsArent Fox LLP‎February 26, 2013


Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • New York

 Professional Affiliations

  • Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court, 2013 - present

Practice Focus

  • Congressional Investigations
  • Criminal Defense
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
  • Internal Investigations
  • Legal Profession & Ethics
  • Public Integrity & Ethics
  • Securities Litigation


  • Hon. Diana Gribbon Motz, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • Hon. Henry H. Kennedy Jr., U.S. District Court, District of Columbia


Yale Law School, J.D., 2009

  • Charles G. Albom Prize
  • Projects Editor, The Yale Law Journal
  • Notes Editor, Yale Law and Policy Review
  • Student Director, San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project

Brown University, B.A., magna cum laude, 2004

Commencement Speaker



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