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Exec Profile: David K. Cohn

David Cohn

David Cohn of Chain | Cohn | Stiles

About the company:

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is Kern County’s leading plaintiffs’ personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm. Our attorneys have represented clients from Kern County, San Joaquin Valley and throughout California for more than 80 years. We focus our efforts on protecting the rights of individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another.

What I do:

I handle a caseload of wrongful death, civil rights, motor vehicle accident and other personal injury cases, while also managing four associate attorneys with my three legal partners and more than 20 paralegals, legal assistants and other staff. I’ve been practicing law as an attorney for 41 years, all in Bakersfield.

Where I grew up:

Born and raised in Bakersfield.

Education:

• West High School, 1968

• USC, 1972

• Southwestern Law School, 1975

What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?

I learned valuable lessons in two of my first jobs.

My first job was working at Pizzaville in Bakersfield, making dough, making pizzas and cleaning the restaurant. I learned that no matter the job or task, it’s always important to do your best — even if means cleaning the bathrooms. That’s the surest way to get recognized as a conscientious employee.

Another early job I had was as a roustabout at an oil refinery on China Grade Loop. The first week of my job had me climbing into a tank in 100-degree weather, shoveling sludge from the bottom. The lesson I learned: Stay in school.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?

My uncle, Milt Younger, showed me the importance of always outworking the other guy, never giving up and being a strong advocate for those who aren’t able to defend themselves.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

Civility is the cornerstone of our legal profession. Whether it’s with clients, partners or legal adversaries, never forget the importance of being civil, honest and respectful.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Helping our clients understand the difficulties of the legal system when they’re at their most vulnerable and helping them appreciate that the legal system will ultimately do them justice. Also, it’s a challenge dealing with insurance companies who want to treat our clients as numbers and not as human beings.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Helping a client get his or her justice. It’s an amazing feeling to see a client or family compensated for their losses as a result of someone else’s negligence, and through that compensation, help them restore their dignity, and in some way, make up for their harms or losses.

What is the most memorable accomplishment of your career?

I helped a young woman who had been severely burned obtain a significant settlement that allowed her to be the first person in her family to go to college. She obtained a degree in nursing, which then allowed her to work in a hospital burn unit, helping those who had suffered injuries just like her own.

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