David R. Cooper

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Legal Adviser to the Commander

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Jan. 14, 2020

David R. Cooper is the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, serving as the chief legal advisor to the Commander of the Corps of Engineers and other senior civilian and military leaders within USACE.  Mr. Cooper is responsible for leading the Corps’ entire legal services system, which is comprised of more than 600 professionals in 63 offices worldwide.  David oversees the provision of all legal guidance and support concerning the Corps’ multi-billion dollar water resources development, military construction, disaster relief assistance, environmental restoration, real property, and international/interagency support activities.


Prior to his selection as Chief Counsel in 2015, Mr. Cooper served as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Corps from 2013 to 2015, where he assisted the Chief Counsel in providing legal services across the full spectrum of USACE missions, and in developing and implementing policies and procedures governing legal activities throughout the Corps to achieve and maintain uniformity in the application of legal principles within the Army.


Before his appointment to the Senior Executive Service and position of Deputy Chief Counsel, Mr. Cooper worked for the Corps for more than five years, serving in numerous roles, including Division Counsel for the Transatlantic Division, District Counsel for the Baltimore District, and Assistant Center Counsel in the Transatlantic Programs Center.  In each of these roles, Mr. Cooper earned accolades.  At the Transatlantic Program Center, he earned the Army’s Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.  At the Baltimore District, he received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.  When he deployed to the Afghanistan Engineer District-South, he was recognized with the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.  Finally, when he served at the Transatlantic Division, he earned the distinction of the Army’s Superior Civilian Service Award.  In 2021, Mr. Cooper received a prestigious Presidential Rank Award.


From 1993 until 2007, when he joined the Corps, Mr. Cooper led a successful consulting practice.  As the firm’s Principal, he was responsible for analyzing, interpreting, and explaining complex U.S. and foreign legal issues for diverse constituencies, and monitoring and reporting on current U.S. and foreign legislative and regulatory developments for a broad range of clients.  Prior to that, from 1991 to 1993, Mr. Cooper served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lodz, Poland.


Mr. Cooper earned a B.A. with Distinction from University of Nebraska in 1980, his J.D. from Northwestern University in 1985, and his Master of Science from the London School Economics and Political Science in 1986.  Mr. Cooper is currently an active member of the District of Columbia Bar and the New Mexico Bar.