Leadership in Law 2014: Jessica Benson Cox

Associate, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Indianapolis • Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 2006

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15col-BensonCox.jpg Jessica Benson Cox (IL Photo/ Eric Learned)

Jessica Benson Cox is building a thriving litigation practice defending pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and other industry leaders, and has become a go-to attorney on matters involving medical and science issues. Jessica’s commitment to civic leadership has earned her a reputation as a community leader. Jessica is described as having “boundless energy,” an asset – to be sure – in balancing the demands of a thriving career, volunteer work and a young family.

Both your parents are doctors. Did you ever consider a career in medicine?

From a very early age, I was absolutely certain I would follow in my parents’ footsteps and pursue a career in medicine … that was until I had my blood drawn my sophomore year of college and fainted.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

Although I faint at the actual sight of blood, I absolutely love science and medicine on paper. While working on mass torts for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, I have developed a niche for working with experts and concentrating on building the “science” defense. I see myself as the translator who helps to explain the science and medicine to my fellow lawyers, and to the jury. If I can learn it, then I can translate it.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

I am fortunate to work with clients who make drugs and devices with the power to save lives and change lives, and I feel compelled to do my part to support nonprofits that work to find solutions for people in need of these miracle drugs and devices. Through my work on the board for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, I have seen how a small group of parents with children with diabetes (which was at one time a death sentence) can start an organization to support research that is well on its way to turning “type-1 into type none.” These organizations also give me hope that with science, anything is possible, and that one day I might be able to do what those JDRF parents did before me – help find a cure for Prader-Willi Syndrome, the rare genetic disorder that affects my own son.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Olivia Pope. She is creative, passionate and delivers incredible results to her clients. (And her wardrobe isn’t half bad either!)

What’s something about you not many people know?

I am a world and national champion equestrian.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your mentor?

My father always told me life is better when you make your avocation your vocation. I feel truly blessed to have the career that I have, and am often amazed that I get paid to do what I love.

You became a mom in 2013. What’s one tip you would give to other first-time parents?

Accept help when it’s offered. Easy to say, harder to do, and definitely necessary to keep yourself sane.

What was the worst or most memorable job you had prior to becoming an attorney?

I taught horseback riding in high school, but was pretty low on the totem pole at the barn. Most of my students were the people that no one else wanted to teach (i.e. terrified of horses in general and even more terrified to actually ride them).  

What class do you wish you could have skipped in law school?

I think in law school, the professor really could make or break the class. There were certainly classes that I took solely because of the professor (rather than subject area), and classes that I avoided for this reason, too.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Online shopping.


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  1. What Mr. Bir is paying is actually Undifferentiated Family Support, which is a mixture of child support and spousal maintenance. If the courts had labeled accurately labeled the transfer payment, I think that Mr. Bir would have fewer objections to paying it because both Spousal Maintenance and Undifferentiated Family Support are tax deductions for the paying party and taxable to the receiving party. I brought this issue up with my family court judge when my voluntarily unemployed ex-wife was using the 'child support' transfer payment to support both herself and out children. Said family court judge stated that I did not know what I was talking about because I did not have a Juris Doctorate, despite my having a printout with dictionary definitions of the legal terms that I was using for documentation.

  2. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  3. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  4. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  5. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?