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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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