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Famous: The Extraordinary Career of
David L. Cohen L’81
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He’s powerful, and he’s smart. That’s according to Philadelphia Magazine, which chose David L. Cohen’s brain as one of city’s top “76 Revolutionary Minds” in the November 2001 issue (the list was alphabetical, so there’s no way to know how high he placed). He was also Number Two on the magazine’s “Power 100” list in November 2000, down from first place in 1999; the new mayor, John Street, took top honors.
And, of course, until recently he was Chairman and Partner of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, the 400- plus law firm that was named one of the best places to work in Philadelphia, again, in February 2001 (effective July 1, 2002, he is Executive Vice President of Philadelphia-based Comcast Corporation.) And that’s just Philly Mag; you should hear what Pulitzer Prizewinning author H.G. (Buzz) Bissinger had to say about Cohen in A Prayer for the City, the 1997 book he wrote that chronicled the first four years of Ed Rendell’s mayorship, when Cohen was Chief of Staff.
They say that nobody’s perfect, but “they” have probably never encountered the career of David L. Cohen. Ask any law student what he hopes to accomplish someday in the legal field, and you may get a variety of answers. The goal may be to make partner at a big firm and start raking in the bucks; it may be to publish meaningful works, to be an expert in a chosen area of specialty; it may be to help the less fortunate, to really make a difference; it may be to have a family, and still manage to earn a good living. Cohen has managed to do all of this, and more.
His is a foolproof formula for success, but it is not for the weak, slow, or lazy. Start with a stellar academic record: debate champion at Highland Park High School Highland Park, New Jersey, 1973; Swarthmore Honors Program and newspaper Editor in Chief, class of 1977; Penn Law 1981, summa cum laude, Executive Editor of the Law Review, etc., etc. Mix with an early passion for politics, which manifests itself most prominently in a stint as a staffer for U.S. Congressman James H. Scheuer (during summers and one semester during college, and for the year before law school). Add a prestigious clerkship; the Honorable Joseph S. Lord, III, Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will suffice (1981- 82). That’s the perfect position to be named partner of one of Philadelphia’s best law firms after just six years as an associate, as Cohen was in 1988 (age 33).