Friday, December 26, 2008

Still Thinking of You Bro’

Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of my oldest brother Jerry; he went too soon at the age of 70. I was thinking about him today and went to the web site of the Washington, D.C. law firm which still has his name first in the list of named partners. On their site, I found his biography which I am printing below in full. I'm sure his colleagues won't mind.

Jerry S. Cohen

Jerry S. Cohen was born on September 13, 1925 in Wayne County, Michigan. He died in December 1995. Jerry Cohen was one of the founding partners of the firm. In his seventy years, Mr. Cohen held a variety of jobs, filled a variety of roles and always had a story to tell.

Mr. Cohen served in the Marines and got both his B.A. and J.D. from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He began his career working for his father in Detroit and was fond of recounting his conversation with his dad explaining how he had managed to lose an uncontested divorce case.

Mr. Cohen went to work for the Michigan Attorney General as the assistant in charge of the Criminal Division. In 1961, he left Michigan for Washington, D.C. He worked at the Senate Antitrust & Monopoly Subcommittee and served as its chief counsel and staff director until 1969. Mr. Cohen always spoke with great admiration of Senator Phil Hart with whom he worked closely during those years. His interest in the small competitor and consumer grew during those years, which saw his work on the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act and the Truth in Labeling Act.

Mr. Cohen opened the D.C. branch of the Philadelphia law firm of Dilworth, Kalish, Cohn & Coleman. He was soon thereafter joined by Herbert E. Milstein and Michael D. Hausfeld. The firm's practice was originally concentrated in antitrust and securities class actions for plaintiffs and that plaintiff-side orientation has remained at the core of the firm's practice. Under Mr. Cohen's leadership, the Washington, D.C. office became an independent partnership in 1986.

Over the years, Mr. Cohen became involved in a variety of prominent cases. He brought the first successful sexual harassment case under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He was one of a team of lawyers litigating In re Corrugated Container Antitrust Litigation to a successful jury verdict in Texas. Mr. Cohen was also active in two massive environmental cases – the Union Carbide Bhopal, India gas leak in 1984 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill case in 1989. Mr. Cohen was chosen as one of two attorneys leading the combined cases to trial against Exxon on behalf of more than 34,000 plaintiffs including Alaskan fishermen, seafood processors, environmental groups, and coastal villages. For his work on the case, he shared the 1995 Trial Lawyer of the Year award presented by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

Mr. Cohen was the co-author of two New York Times best-selling books, both written with Morton Mintz, a Washington Post journalist. America Inc: Who Owns and Operates the United States came out in 1971 and Power Inc: Public and Private Rulers and How to Make Them Accountable came out in 1976.

Mr. Cohen was well respected by both plaintiff and defense lawyers. Whether or not you agreed with him, you knew that, if he said he would do something, he would keep his word. He had a fondness for good arguments and not-so-great cigars.

Jerry was quite a guy. I still miss you bro'.