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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. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  2. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  3. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  4. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  5. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

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