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Ex Popeyes Legal Chief Headed to Taylor English as Partner

Aug. 13, 2020, 9:07 PM

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s former general counsel, Harold “Sonny” Cohen, has joined Taylor English Duma as a partner, adding to the Atlanta-based law firm’s long roster of former in-house attorneys.

Cohen officially assumed his new role in late June, though he was already familiar with the firm. Popeyes, based in Miami, was one of Taylor English’s very first clients around 15 years ago.

“I was a big fan as a client. I thought they did a great job of doing things a little differently than the traditional large firms,” Cohen said in an interview with Bloomberg Law following the official announcement of his hire Wednesday. “They’re more flexible and entrepreneurial in everything, from the way they analyze cases to their rate structures.”

Taylor English was founded in 2005 and comprises roughly 175 attorneys, at least 20 of which are former in-house lawyers, Cohen said. He will be joining the firm’s corporate practice.

“It’s kind of like a fraternity or sorority,” he said, adding that he and his former in-house colleagues have monthly meetings. “That brings a unique perspective. We start with the desire to help the company—that’s just the way we’re wired as the general counsel of a company—and then you work back the legal strategy from there.”

Cohen joined holding company AFC Enterprises, now Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc., in 2005 and stayed through multiple company milestones before leaving in 2017.

Cohen was the lead in-house lawyer for AFC’s initial public offering in 2001 and was present when the company changed its corporate name to Popeyes after selling its other restaurant brands, which included Cinnabon. He later played a part in the $1.8 billion sale of the company to holding group Restaurant Brands International Inc. in 2017 before leaving as the new owners restructured. RBI also owns and operates Burger King and Tim Hortons.

Cohen started a consulting firm providing services to restaurants, franchises, and private equity owned companies after exiting Popeyes.

The fast food chain scored a coup late last year with its now famous spicy chicken sandwich, which sparked competition among different chains, and even led to violence when one location ran out.

“We had essentially something very close to that chicken sandwich for years, but we couldn’t get the marketing to go with that sandwich, and they caught lightning in a bottle,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s return to private practice comes nearly 25 years after he first went in-house with AFC. He began his career as an associate at King & Spalding.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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