As we join in saluting servicemen and women this Veterans Day, Loeb & Loeb spoke with partner Marc Cohen, an active member of the California State Military Reserve, about his military service, its influence on his private practice and some of the issues facing veterans today.
Q: Can you give me a little background on your military service?
A: I was in school during the Vietnam War, and always had some ambivalence about not serving during that time. Post-9/11, I became very focused on finding ways to serve my country and community in a meaningful way. My wife and I started the First-in-Fire Foundation, working with and supporting first responders. About four years ago, I learned about the California State Military Reserve, which is part of the California Military Department supporting the National Guard. I enlisted as a Major in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for the State Military, where I have been able to help California National Guard soldiers and their families with legal issues relating to their service, and also play an advisory role in the state’s cyber defense efforts.
Q: Can you describe your work with the California Military Department, JAG Corps?
A: There aren’t enough lawyers in the regular California National Guard, so the State Military’s JAG Corps fills an important void, assisting deploying soldiers with issues such as wills, do-not-resuscitate orders, powers of attorney, divorce, support, mortgage and other contract deferments, and much more. Many JAGs also get embedded into different units within the State Military to provide more specialized service. I have enjoyed working closely with State Military units in Sacramento promulgating cyber defense policies. As a public sector attorney representing various state agencies, I have the advantage of knowing my way around state government. As a result, the focus of my role as deputy counsel of Cyber Defense for the California Military Department has been to work with other federal and state agencies to coordinate the sharing of information and resources, set policy, and execute coordinated drills and table-top exercises to plan and prepare for potential cyberattacks and other emergency scenarios.
Q: How does your work as a JAG influence your work in private practice?
A: My day job consists of representing state and municipal agencies on legal, budgetary and financial issues. One of my key clients is the California State Controller’s Office, which I currently represent in unclaimed property and related litigation matters. So there is synergy between my practice at Loeb and my work in the State Military Reserve. I have a deep personal affinity for California, and I’m proud to wear the uniform of a business suit during the day and the uniform of a serving soldier on the weekend, to do work that I feel is critically important to serving and protecting my state and my country.
I’m also proud that the California Military Department and its affiliates have become pro bono clients of Loeb. We have attorneys volunteering legal services to help individual soldiers as well as the military as an institution in connection with a variety of matters.
Q: What are some of the key issues facing veterans right now?
A: One key issue facing veterans is opportunity for employment and for the training and education required to make a successful transition to civilian life. I’m pleased that law school and private practice recruiting are working to become more organized in terms of targeting veterans, as these men and women bring an innate sense of discipline, leadership and focus that is critical for success in the law firm environment.
Loeb is proud to have some incredibly talented and dedicated veterans in our ranks, including attorney Jon Hollis, who spearheads the firm’s Veterans Assistance Project team, which provides pro bono legal service to veterans of the U.S. armed forces who are seeking VA benefits for physical or emotional disabilities incurred as a result of their service. Through this important initiative, our firm is working to help our veteran population gain access to vital resources to assist with a variety of other issues they face.
Marc Cohen will be commemorating Veterans Day at the inaugural “Salute to Service Gala,” hosted by the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation and supporting The Folded Flag Foundation and other local military, veteran and first responder charities. He will be attending in uniform as a representative of the California Military Department, along with a group of Loeb & Loeb attorneys, to honor veterans past and present who have served our country.