Biography of Justice Matthew F. Cooper

Justice CooperJustice Matthew F. Cooper has been on the bench since 2001. He is a graduate of Hobart College in Geneva, New York, where he received his B.A., cum laude, in 1974. Following two years as a VISTA volunteer with Bronx Legal Services, he attended Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., where he earned his J.D. in 1979.

Justice Cooper went on to practice in New York City for over 20 years, with his legal career focused on representing working people in union pre-paid legal services programs. Beginning as a staff attorney at District Counsel 37, he subsequently became a Supervisor of the Housing Unit, representing tenants in Housing Court. Justice Cooper left DC-37 to become Director and Chief Counsel of Teamsters Local-237 Legal Services Plan, where he oversaw attorneys representing city employees in a variety of civil matters. He also served as a volunteer Housing Court guardian ad litem with the New York City Bar Association.

In 2000, Justice Cooper was elected to the New York City Civil Court. He was initially assigned to Criminal Court for three years before returning to hear civil matters. In 2008, he was appointed an Acting Supreme Court Justice. Two years later he was elected to the New York State Supreme Court. Since 2009, Justice Cooper has presided over court parts that deal exclusively with divorce and custody cases. As of January of 2018, he is also serving as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Term, First Department, where he hears appeals from the Civil, Housing and Criminal Courts.

Justice Cooper is a member of the New York County Lawyers Association, where he is the Chair of the Committee on the Courts, the New York City Bar Association, and the New York State Bar Association, where he is a member of the Courts and the Family and Matrimonial Law Sections. He frequently lectures at CLEs and conferences, often focusing on children, child development and mental health issues. Recently, he spoke on panels such as Children Rights: An Interactive Discussion Relating to Communications With or By Children as part of an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers CLE and Extraordinary Issues for Extraordinary Kids: A Primer on the Issues Involved When Confronted with Special Needs Kids in Divorces. He has also lectured on the Child Support Standards Act at the “Divorce Anniversaries” seminar hosted by the NYSBA and on the SUNY Cap at the Judicial Institute. Cooper testified before the State Senate Judiciary Committee regarding statutory maintenance calculations on behalf of the NYSBA Family and Matrimonial Law Section.

In addition to regularly teaching lawyers and other judges, Justice Cooper has been an adjunct professor at New York Law School, teaching Anatomy of a Divorce, and at CUNY’s College for Worker Education, teaching introduction to the legal process, and he lectures annually on divorce law and trial advocacy to classes at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University schools of law.

Justice Cooper is the Chair of the Board of Justices of the Supreme Court, First Judicial District, and he serves on that court’s Gender Fairness Committee. He is also on the executive boards of the New York State and the New York City Associations of Supreme Court Justices.