Cal. Litig. 2014, Volume 27, Number 1

"I Learned About Litigating from That" In Memory of Joel A. Cohen

By Howard S. Shernoff

Howard S. Shernoff

BECAUSE OF HIS CANCER, Joel was working from home by the time I began practicing at the Shernoff law firm. He was our Los Angeles office’s head law-and-motion writer, on whom we relied to beat demurrers, get past summary judgments, craft motions in limine. But owing to his illness and harsh treatment regimen, Joel himself began to rely on others, including me, to research and draft the steady stream of motions we faced as we waded through the unchartered litigation waters involving Holocaust-era life-insurance claims and health-insurance rescissions.

I came to the law from a writing background, with aspirations of handling motions and appeals. Having read that most court rulings turn on the papers submitted rather than the accompanying arguments (which generally are invited only after the court has formulated its tentative position), I convinced myself that writing was what the law was all about. It was where the glory lies. So I began working gratefully under Joel’s guidance.

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