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Famous: The Extraordinary Career of
David L. Cohen L’81
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“The Federal Courthouse, the trials, were what you pictured in law school,” he says about his clerkship on District Court. “Patent law cases, maritime cases. It was a higher plain of law.” Thinking that he wanted to be a trial attorney he joined the Philadelphia Defender’s Association, which was then a volunteer vocation. Soon he joined Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads in Philadelphia. His first case was an antitrust case, a class action suit against Anaconda Wire & Cable Company. He recalls his days as an associate with a quiet laugh. “I spent my days separating out copper invoices from aluminum invoices.” From there he tried some arbitration cases for a couple of years and then moved to the corporate department where he did SEC work and reorganizations. The nature of that work sparked his vigorous intellect.
“It was helpful as a growth experience and to develop my personal point of view. At one point I thought I’d be a tax lawyer. (He remembers taking a few courses at the Law School with former professor and dean Bernard Wolfman). I got to go through reorganizations under tax law that didn’t make sense in law school and then I saw how they made sense as a matter of practicality. Finally I saw my legal education in practice. I grew up a lot in those years.”
He was now ready to make his mark on the family business, and make it he did.
His father’s first cousin Grahame Wood persuaded him to join the family business as General Counsel in 1970. Grahame was a brave and assured World War II soldier, but also a visionary. He saw promise in the expanding suburbs and the idea of the ‘stop and shop’ store. In 1964 he opened the first Wawa Store at the corner of MacDade Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue in Folsom, Pennsylvania. But if you go looking for the original store you won’t find it. Although it sits on the same land it was subject to the fate of all other Wawa stores that have a lifespan of six years, tops.
“You have to keep up your facilities,” Wood explains. “A lot of times your sites become yesterday’s sites. We are always closing, remodeling, and relocating stores, sometimes rebuilding with gasoline pumps.”
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