Bloomberg Law
May 9, 2023, 9:30 AM

They’ve Got Next: Government Contracts Fresh Face Umer Chaudhry

Josh Axelrod
Josh Axelrod

Umer Chaudhry remembers watching his father with awe as he would put on a suit and tie and go down to the courthouse in Lahore, Pakistan to advocate for his clients.

But as religious discrimination mounted against his family’s specific sect of Islam, Chaudhry said a chain of events began that would eventually lead him to follow in his father’s footsteps—and become a promising attorney in Washington, D.C.

His father “recognized that the future of the family was not looking very bright,” Chaudhry said. “Pakistan had already become a very complex society to navigate, intolerant in some ways, and so he decided that moving the family was the right decision. And he gave up his law practice, gave up basically everything.”

Chaudhry immigrated with his family at age 10 to Maryland. Some 20 years later, he’s now an associate at Cooley where he steers massive transactions to completion, helping clients navigate complex global regulations with his expertise in technology and national security.

In 2022, he helped IonQ negotiate its first major quantum computing contract with the US Air Force. The startup, which went public in 2021, was the world’s first pure-play quantum computing company to do so, according to Nasdaq, thanks in part to work done by Chaudhry’s firm.

Chaudhry also played a pivotal role in 2022’s largest health-care deal, where Amgen purchased Horizon Therapeutics for $28 billion. He provided practical advice on Horizon’s government contracts portfolio with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs as it moved through the sale.

The deal was also the third-largest all-cash transaction in the pharmaceutical sector’s history, according to Cooley.

Chaudhry, who joined Cooley in 2022, tackles his work through a data lens, as his first job was as a business analyst at the Federal Procurement Data System, where government agencies funnel their contracting data.

After FPDS, he moved to Bloomberg Government where his team built the company’s Contract Intelligence Tool, furthering an expertise in procurement data, he said. At the same time, Chaudhry attended George Washington Law School part-time as part of the government procurement law program. (Bloomberg Government and Bloomberg Law, are both part of Bloomberg Industry Group, publisher of this article.)

Between data, law, and government procurement, Chaudhry saw a unique cross-section of his interests and technological know-how.

He joined Jenner & Block in 2016 and continued carving out his legal niche, which is diving deep into overlapping regulations, flagging transaction risks, and looking under the hood of clients’ tech.

Cooley partner David Fletcher called Chaudhry an “embodiment of what we’re trying to do” as a contracting practice, facilitating deals between the government and the most cutting-edge tech and life sciences companies.

Chaudhry credits his parents’ sacrifice, uprooting their family from Pakistan to Maryland, as the fuel for his entire career.

In the 1970s, Pakistan passed a law determining Ahmadiyya Muslims, the sect Chaudhry’s family belongs to, were non-Muslims.

“That fundamentally marginalized our community,” Chaudhry said, describing the lack of safety and ability to practice his faith openly. But coming to America was challenging for its own reasons.

“Once you convert your rupees into dollars, your lifelong savings just disappear,” he said.

Knowing how hard it is to break into Big Law, Chaudhry attempts to pay it forward to legal students from diverse communities. He wants the economic mobility that comes with professional success for the next generation of lawyers who are less represented in the field.

He also understands intimately how any transaction or client work is only ever enhanced by having a legal team that represents the broader population.

“There might be people that have no clue what government contracts law is,” he added. “But it’s exposure to the practice area that then can hopefully spark interest.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Josh Axelrod in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: MP McQueen at; Lisa Helem at

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