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MIAMI — The national law firm established by famed attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. will continue to call itself The Cochran Firm. And the head of the firm’s Miami outpost vowed that Cochran’s death won’t weaken growth plans of the office or the firm’s planned expansion in Florida. Cochran, who gained international fame when he helped win an acquittal for former football star O.J. Simpson in a double-murder trial in 1994, died at his home in Los Angeles Tuesday. The 67-year-old lawyer died after months of battling a brain tumor, which was diagnosed and operated on last year. The death of Cochran, who also was well known for representing plaintiffs in police misconduct and personal injury cases, poses challenges for the 14-city firm’s future and growth plans. Cochran’s widespread fame, credibility in the black community, and the use of his image in TV ads have been an important part of the firm’s business model. But James Robertson III, managing partner of The Cochran Firm in Miami, which opened last summer, said the firm will remain strong. “Obviously, there will be a void because of Johnnie’s absence,” Robertson said in an interview. “But Johnnie hand-picked all of the partners in the various regional offices, including me, with the expectation that his legacy would go on and that we will continue to uphold the standards that he strives for. And now we expect to be able to do that.” The Cochran Firm is a personal injury plaintiff firm with offices in Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Washington, D.C., and Tennessee. The Miami office, which is located downtown, has four attorneys, including the firm’s national managing partner, J. Keith Givens. “Our plan is to continue to expand and hope to have about 10 to 15 lawyers within the next year,” Robertson said. Robertson said he currently is receiving resumes and interviewing lawyer candidates. He said he expects to announce the hiring of a high-profile attorney within the next month. The firm plans to open offices in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Robertson said the firm’s success was not dependent on its founder and leader. “Johnnie’s image will always be with us,” Robertson said. “But nationally, one of my partners last year had the largest personal injury verdict in the country. Another partner was named trial lawyer of the year in Nevada. So, we have a number of hand-picked lawyers that do exceptionally well and I believe that the firm will continue to have significant cases.” In terms of the advertising and marketing, Robertson said he anticipates that there would be a combination of ads similar to the ones that the firm had in the past with the attorneys from the regional offices also participating in them. John Morgan, an Orlando personal injury attorney, was a partner of Cochran in several business ventures. He also provided marketing and business advice to The Cochran Firm. Morgan said that while fighting the brain tumor, Cochran was intimately involved in planning for the firm’s future in the event of his death. “He spent a lot of time in the last years making sure that this firm did continue on a national basis,” he said. That included a new marketing campaign. “We have an ad campaign that we have had ready, and basically the theme of the ad campaign is going to be what Johnnie wanted,” Morgan said. The campaign will reinforce the concept that Cochran personally picked his partners with the idea of them carrying on his legacy. Morgan said the new ads will start running in two to three weeks. According to Robertson, Cochran’s last visit to Miami was in October, when he came through to talk about strategy and growth for the firm. Robertson said he expects that partners will assemble next month to discuss the firm’s future plans. “We will probably expand, but we will expand as satellite offices, as opposed to new regional offices.” AnaMaria Colmenares is a reporter with the Miami Daily Business Review, a Recorder affiliate.

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