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Karen L. Cohen

Karen Cohen

Karen L. CohenShareholder

Direct: (703) 479-3170

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Karen L. Cohen is a Shareholder with the law firm of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C (VF&N).  Her practice focuses on commercial real estate transactions, land use and zoning, and business transactions.  As an attorney with a prior career in architecture and a master’s degree in Real Estate Development, Karen’s legal knowledge is enhanced by her understanding of the business and financial aspects of real estate development.

Karen is chair of the Prince William Government Relations Subcommittee of NAIOP Northern Virginia, the real estate development trade association.  She also serves on the Board of Governors of the VSB Real Property Section, is Co-Chair of the Land Use and Environmental Subcommittee and was recently selected for the inaugural class of Influential Women of Law of 2019 by Virginia Lawyers Weekly and recognized by Virginia Business Magazine as “Legal Elite” in Commercial Real Estate.

Prior to joining VF&N, Karen was Of Counsel at The Coverage Law Firm and Counsel at Wilmer Hale.  She began her legal career as Clerk to the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.


  • Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly Influential Women of Law 2019
  • Virginia Business Magazine “Legal Elite” recognition in 2018 for Commercial Real Estate

Professional Activities

  • Board of Governors, Virginia State Bar Real Property Section
  • Co-Chair, VSB Land Use and Environmental Committee
  • Chair, NAIOP Government Relations Prince William Subcommittee
  • Member, Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA)
  • Founding Director, George Mason University School of Business Real Estate Development Industry Group (2016)
  • Member, Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Prince William Chapter
  • Board of Directors, Legal Services of Northern Virginia
  • Director-at-Large, George Mason University School of Business Alumni Chapter (2013-2017)
  • Zoning and Land Use: Representation of developers and landowners in connection with rezonings and special use permits in Prince William and Fairfax counties.


  • Reciprocal Easements: Represented regional shopping mall owner in connection with subdivision and sale of mall parcel and drafted and negotiated complex reciprocal easement and operating agreement in connection with sale.


  • Insurance Claims: Represented flex building owner in mediation involving claim against title insurance company regarding insurer’s failure to identify federal easement that restricted owner’s land use; conducted appraisal analysis and worked with an expert appraiser.


  • Historic Property: Representation of owner of farm winery in land use litigation brought by homeowners to prevent operation of winery on historic property not subject to covenants


  • Zoning Analysis: Provided zoning analysis in connection with various clients’ potential purchase of land for commercial and industrial uses.


  • Religious Institution: Represented religious institution client in connection with special permit amendment for “church with school” zoning classification in Fairfax County.


  • Municipal: Advised municipalities in connection with various zoning and land use matters including: Virginia’s new proffer legislation; sign ordinances after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert; the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), federal constitutional issues in connection with zoning ordinances pertaining to certain land uses; and preparation of performance and bonding agreements.


  • DPOR Hearing: Representation of contractor in DPOR hearing, avoiding licensure penalty and obtaining a substantial reduction in fines


  • Commercial Leases: Representation of landlords and tenants in shopping center, office and industrial leases, including medical building leases for non-profit integrated health system.

“We are grateful for Karen Cohen’s legal expertise in the commercial leasing of the Woodbridge ReStore. It was such a joy to work with her. She is smart, articulate, responsive, and her work impressed all of us. Because of her efforts, we are able to expand our services in the Prince William County community.”

– Traci DeGroat – President/CEO of Habitat for Humanity Prince William County

“Karen Cohen provided spot-on advice to help my business negotiate an important contract. She listened and made sure she understood my business so that the result was not only a well-crafted legal document, but one that reflected a unique business deal. Due to Karen’s legal experience and her willingness to understand my business needs, I was able to avoid the cost of litigation and instead build a positive business relationship with a solid legal document as a foundation.”

– Eric Winnings- Online Retailer

Featured Articles

Speaking Engagements

  • Invited Land Use Attorney Speaker, Virginia Association of Zoning Officials (topics included Virginia’s new proffer legislation, RLUIPA, and sign ordinances)
  • Co-Author and Moderator, Virginia’s Proffer Law (VFN Webinar)
  • Speaker, Prince William Chamber of Commerce, Powerful Partnerships

Recognized by Virginia Business Magazine  as “Legal Elite” in Commercial Real Estate

Recipient of the  “Influential Women of Law” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly

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Becky Spencer, Legal Assistant
(703) 479-3173



  • George Mason University, MS Real Estate Development, 2012
  • Georgetown University Law Center, Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, 1994
  • University of Virginia, BS in Architecture, 1987

Bar and Court Admissions

  • Virginia State Bar
    • Board of Governors, Real Property Section
    • Chair, Land Use & Environmental Committee, Real Property Section
  • District of Columbia
  • Admitted to practice in the following courts:
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
    • United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
    • Virginia (all state courts)
    • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Prince William County Bar Association, Member

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