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Dr. Ada Cooper

Dentist and lawyer Dr. Ada Cooper was born on October 19, 1960 in New York City to Dr. H.H. Cooper, Jr. and Edith Blue Cooper. Cooper graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1978, and earned her B.A. degree cum laude in political science at Amherst College in 1982. She was awarded the John Woodruff Simpson Fellowship in Law to attend Harvard Law School, graduating with her J.D. degree in 1985. Cooper completed her D.D.S. degree at New York University College of Dentistry in 2002.

Cooper began her legal career as a litigator at the law firm of Jenner & Block in 1985, and then worked as an associate in the litigation section of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in New York from 1986 to 1989. Cooper returned to Jenner & Block in 1989, and was later named a partner in 1992. After thirteen years in the legal profession, Cooper returned to school to study dentistry. Not long after graduating from the New York University College of Dentistry in 2002, Cooper was selected to be a national spokesperson and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association (ADA). Cooper appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, CNN, NBC Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. She was also quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Women’s Health magazine.

Cooper served as a member of the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section and Corporate Counsel Committee, as well as the United States District court, Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She also served as a member of the NIDCR “PEARL” Protocol Review Committee, the Greater New York Dental Meeting Seminar Committee, the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the New York State Dental Association. In addition, she served as a member of the New York County Dental Society Legislative Committee and the New York State Dental Society Benefits Committee. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Boys Club of New York, and serves on the board of directors of the New York County Dental Society. Cooper also received many awards and honors, including the American College of Dentists’ Outstanding Achievement Award, the New York University Key Pin Award for Outstanding Achievement, and induction into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honor Dental Society.

Dr. Ada Cooper was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 23, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.028

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/23/2016

Last Name

Cooper

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Sheryl

Occupation
Schools

P.S. 20 Clinton Hill School

J.H.S. 104 Simon Baruch

Amherst College

Harvard Law School

New York University College of Dentistry

Stuyvesant High School

First Name

Ada

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

COO12

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/19/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Dentist and lawyer Dr. Ada Cooper (1960 - ) began her career as a litigator for Jenner & Block, before returning to school to become a dentist. She then represented the American Dental Association as a national spokesperson and consumer advisor.

Employment

Ada S. Cooper D.D.S.

H.H. Cooper Jr. D.D.S

American Dental Association

Mt Sinai Hospital Dental Clinic

Jenner & Block LLP

Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue

Favorite Color

Fall Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Ada Cooper's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Ada Cooper lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her maternal family reunions

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes how her maternal great-great-grandparents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her maternal grandfather's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her paternal great-grandfather's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her paternal grandfather's education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her paternal family's interest in medicine

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her paternal family's legacy in dentistry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her father's early career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Ada Cooper recalls her father's entrepreneurship in Nigeria

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her earliest childhood memories, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her earliest childhood memories, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers moving to the Upper East Side of Manhattan

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her community on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her community on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers her father's rules

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers her mother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Ada Cooper recalls her decision to attend Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her and her siblings' education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Ada Cooper recalls joining the law firm of Jenner and Block in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her career at Jenner and Block

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers defending a homeless client, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers defending a homeless client, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers her mentors at Jenner and Block

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes the advantages of workplace diversity

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Ada Cooper recalls her decision to pursue a career in dentistry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers her father's support for her career change

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Ada Cooper recalls graduating from the New York University College of Dentistry

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Ada Cooper remembers practicing dentistry with her father

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about the birth of her children

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Ada Cooper recalls becoming the national spokeswoman for the American Dental Association

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her father's innovations in dentistry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her dental practice

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Ada Cooper reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Ada Cooper describes her advice to aspiring lawyers and dentists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Ada Cooper reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Ada Cooper talks about her children

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Dr. Ada Cooper describes her career at Jenner and Block
Dr. Ada Cooper recalls her decision to pursue a career in dentistry
Transcript
I remember--you know, I remember small things and acts of real genuine appreciation. I worked in a group that was headed by a man named Jerold Solovy who died a few years ago and I remember being a first or second year associate and I was at the office really late working on a memo that I was writing for something, and Jerry and a number of the other partners were on trial, and they were out of town and they called. It must've been one or two o'clock in the morning. I don't know why I was there, but I was there. And he called and he talked to the operator because he was looking desperately for an associate to research a particular question, okay.$$At one or two o'clock in the morning?$$And he searched around and they searched around and I was there. From that moment on, he was one of my absolute ardent supporters. I think that what he appreciated was not the fact that I was there at one or two o'clock in the morning alone, wasn't necessarily the fact that, you know, I got the right answer or whatever it was, I think that what he really valued was commitment, was commitment, and, and the hard work that comes with that. And since that's something that had been instilled in me from the time that I was five, it sort of came naturally (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) You have to work hard.$$--and easily to me, you know, came easily to me and that's something that I could do. That's something that I could do easily. So, I was very happy. I was very happy. There were some cases that I think were more gratifying than others. Some of the cases that I found most gratifying were the habeas corpus cases where I knew that the work that I put in had, you know, a direct effect of having somebody who had been accused of a crime represented with, you know, skill and success. There were others that were disappointing, disappointing not because of the way that the firm [Jenner and Block] handled it by any means, but because I became acutely aware of the fact that your hard work, your diligence in the legal system doesn't always pay off. And some of the instances in which my hard work didn't pay off and resulted in a bad decision were very difficult, were very, very difficult, and I found it difficult to become the kind of lawyer that could see practicing law just as a sport, you make your good argument, the joy and the thrill comes from the argument itself and not from the result. I was much more I think psychologically tied to the result and losing became really defeating, honestly. And I have to say there weren't many losses and there were some cases that I thought, we probably should lose, honestly, and in those instances, you give your client what they deserve, which is the best conceivable representation. But there were some instances where I really thought that we should have won.$And so I'm wondering, as, as you were making up your mind that it's time for you to make a different choice, did you have any feelings of guilt about the possibility of leaving and, and you being one of those people who, oh, they invested in me and, and--$$It's funny. No--well, I think that when I left, there were lots of mixed feelings among the people that I worked with. A lot of people thought that it was sort of wasted talent. I think that Jerry Solovy who was a--just a really amazing mentor to me thought that I would be back, thought that I would be back. And, and I, frankly, wasn't certain that I wouldn't be back. I always held out the possibility in my mind that I could always go back to practicing law. And so when I first decided to change careers, I had to do all the premed things that I didn't do my freshman year in college [Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts], and I started to do those in Chicago [Illinois] while I was still a partner [at Jenner and Block].$$Did you tell anybody you were doing this (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No.$$So, how in the world--$$No.$$--did you find time if you're still sometimes being at the office at one o'clock in the morning?$$Here's the thing that I found, that the things that I did in--that, that I did in college and high school [Stuyvesant High School, New York, New York] were a lot easier at that point because I was a lot more mature, I was a lot more focused, I was a lot more organized, and because I had been practicing law for so long, I was able to cut through the nonsense and identify really quickly what mattered in various subjects, and that made the work a lot--a lot easier and a lot less time-consuming.$$Well, and people have said that preparation to be a lawyer really can prepare you for anything.$$Oh, yeah, yeah. And, and, and, and preparation to be a lawyer and taking the bar required learning volumes and volumes and volumes of material and sitting through, you know, two or three day exams, and with--even as you're practicing law, each case that you have requires you on some level to become an expert in whatever the subject matter of the case is, and you learn to become an expert really, really quickly. And so the training that I got in practicing law and becoming a lawyer and passing the bar and then practicing law made it a lot easier for me to take those, you know, college courses, and, and devote, you know, whatever time I had to it, at night while I was still practicing.$$Where did you study?$$I started taking courses at Loyola University [Loyola University Chicago] in Chicago and after doing that for about a year, I resigned from the partnership, told people what I was doing, resigned from the partnership and moved to New York [New York] where my father's [Henry Cooper, Jr.] practice was at the time, and took courses at NYU [New York University College of Dentistry, New York, New York] and Hunter [Hunter College, New York, New York].