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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. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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