The 1996 Tom Cruise film “Jerry Maguire” begins with an epiphany that the way things have always been done is not a justification for continuing to do things the way they have always been done. And this notion aptly applies to the practice of law.
The foundation of our legal system is buoyed by the adversarial process. The challenge for professionals is how best to advocate on behalf of an adverse party. For many, the default answer has been to engage in an adversarial manner. Yet this approach may not be the most effective form of advocacy and is often not consistent with ethics and professionalism principles.
This session will focus on clear and actionable approaches that are designed to ensure a higher level of professionalism that are part of the “The Lawyer’s Creed of Professionalism of the State Bar of Arizona,” a commitment sworn to as part of securing a license to practice law in Arizona.
Nicholas Brown, The Cavanagh Law Firm, P.A.
Judge Bruce Cohen, Maricopa County Superior Court
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Nicholas J. Brown concentrates his practice in the areas of family law and domestic relations, including interstate jurisdictional disputes, property characterization issues, and custody matters, in addition to appeals and special actions. Nick is a member with The Cavanagh Law Firm, P.A. Before joining the firm, he completed a clerkship at the Arizona Supreme Court with Chief Justice Scott Bales. Nick currently serves as a member of the Family Law Executive Council of the State Bar of Arizona. Nick is devoted to staying abreast of emergent issues in family law and the state of the law in Arizona in general. He constantly seeks opportunities to publish articles on new cases, rules, and issues. Nick has presented on Arizona family law procedures and rules regarding discovery, disclosure, temporary orders, and the UCCJEA. Apart from English, Nick also speaks Spanish.
was appointed as a Superior Court Judge to the Maricopa County Superior Court in May, 2005. Since joining the bench, he served on a family court assignment for six years (four of which was as Associate Presiding Family Court Judge), followed by a four-year assignment to the Criminal Department of the Court (two years of which he was the Managing Judge of the Post-Conviction Relief Unit), three years assigned to the Juvenile Court and one year on a Civil Court calendar. Since June, 2019, he has been the Presiding Judge of the Family Department of the Maricopa County Superior Court.
In the mid to late 1970s and before entering the legal profession, Judge Cohen worked in the concert industry. He produced shows with many top acts, including Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Journey, Yes, Janis Ian, Melissa Manchester, Billy Joel, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yvonne Elliman, Black Sabbath (with Ozzy), The Beach Boys, Kenny Loggins, Dicky Betts of the Allman Brothers, Harry Chapin, Elvis Costello, George Carlin, Cheech and Chong, Bob Hope, and the Rolling Stones (featuring Linda Ronstadt). He helped produce a benefit concert held at the U of A Football Stadium in 1977 headlined by Fleetwood Mac and the Marshall Tucker Band, which was attended by 67,000 people and which raised over $400,000 for the American Heart Association. He was given an outstanding service award in 1977 by the Heart Association for those efforts.
After graduating from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Psychology in 1978, Judge Cohen attended law school and earned his J.D at Arizona State University, now known as the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. In 2001 and again in 2021, he served as an adjunct family law professor and has been a guest speaker on many other occasions. He and his wife sponsored an annual scholarship project for a number of years through 2012 for first year law students on the issue of professionalism. Further, Judge Cohen was a participating member of the National Forum on the Future of Legal Education held in April, 2010. In the summer of 2010, he helped develop a mentor program for first year law students to be paired with judicial officers.
Prior to his appointment to the Bench, Judge Cohen was in private practice for 24 years. He was a certified specialist in Family Law and served on the Family Law Board of Legal Specialization for the State Bar of Arizona, as well as the Family Law Executive Council for the State Bar of Arizona. He was a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was named annually to the Martindale Hubbell Preeminent Lawyers in America. Judge Cohen co-authored legislation on parent information programs and adoption of special needs children.
Judge Cohen served on the Arizona Supreme Court appointed Child Support Guidelines Committee for four quadrennial reviews, commencing in 1996, and served as Chairperson for that committee for the 2008-2010 Review. He was again a member for the 2020-21 review. Judge Cohen also served on the Arizona Supreme Court appointed Family Law Rules Review Committee and on the Arizona Supreme Court Admission on Motion Task Force. He is a past president of the Arizona Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (1992) and served a three-year term as a member of the AzAFCC Board through January, 2011, where he chaired 2010-11 AzAFCC Summit Project, which focused on developing communication skills for parents. He is a past member of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board for the City of Scottsdale, where he served as Chairperson until January, 2018. Judge Cohen is a founding member of the Maricopa County Superior Court Peer Support program. He currently is a member of the Arizona Supreme Court's Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts, the Family Court Improvement Committee, and the Commission on Access to Justice. Judge Cohen also serves on the Judicial Executive Council for the Maricopa County Superior Court. He is now serving as the national co-chair for the Family Law Workgroup of the National Judicial Task Force on Mental Health and the Courts and is presently the Chairperson of the Arizona State Bar Professionalism Advisory Council.
In 1990, he was named Volunteer Lawyer of the Year by the Maricopa County Bar Association. Other awards include the Arizona Family Support Council's 2010 Judicial Officer of the Year, the 2011 AzAFCC Outstanding Service Award, the 2011 "Improving Public Trust and Confidence in the Arizona Court System" award from the Arizona Supreme Court, the 2013 Maricopa County Superior Court Pendleton Gaines Collegiality Award, and he was a nominee for the US Justice Department 2014 National Crime Victims' Service Award. While serving as the managing judge for the Criminal Department Post-Conviction Relief Unit, the National Association of Counties awarded the Unit its 2015 National Achievement Award for innovation. He is a 2016 recipient of a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the State Bar of Arizona- Family Law Section and, in December of 2019, the Phoenix Chapter of the American Board of Trial Attorneys named Judge Cohen "Judge of the Year." He was a co-recipient of the 2021 Excellence in Judicial Education Award from the Arizona Judicial College.
Judge Cohen worked in collaboration with others in 2013 to return to Arizona the program known as "Anytown." The organization brings together high-school aged young men and women for a weeklong camp focused on stamping out bias, prejudice and bigotry and celebrating diversity. He served as a co-director for the 2014 and 2016 camps.
In 2013, Judge Cohen and his family appeared and were champions on the Steve Harvey hosted game show, Family Feud, which allowed Judge Cohen to destroy in 17 minutes a favorable reputation that had taken decades to develop.