Job Wanted: Los Angeles lawyer with 35 years of experience, most recently as president of a midsized Southern California law firm, looking for entry-level public service job with district attorney or U.S. Attorney. Benefits a plus.
If Rick Cohen could write his own job description when he retires as the head of Buchalter Nemer in January, it would read something like that. Cohen, a corporate and securities lawyer who started at Buchalter as a summer intern in 1975, has led the 160-attorney firm for the last 10 years. But when he transitions out of private practice beginning in 2013, he wants to switch gears in a big way. After Cohen steps down, the firm plans to implement a three-partner leadership strategy.
The National Law Journal recently talked to Cohen, 60, about his next phase, and here’s what he had to say. Answers have been edited for brevity.
The National Law Journal: You’ll start closing down your practice in January. What are going to do with yourself?
Rick Cohen: I don’t know. Got any ideas? I anticipate that I’ll continue to practice for a while at the rate that I currently am, which is about 25 to 35 percent of my time.
NLJ: Then what?
RC: I really, really, really want to do something socially conscious. I’ve been a lucky guy. Because I don’t need to make a lot, I can go do this now.
NLJ: You mentioned that you’d like to become an assistant district attorney or assistant U.S. attorney. Are you serious?
RC: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a prosecutor. That’s why I wanted to be a lawyer. I would like to return to that dream. I’d like to be an entry-level lawyer with either the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office or with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. But they’re not hiring much, and if they are hiring, it’s not 60-year-old guys. I’m going to pursue each, but I’m not very hopeful of my chances.
NLJ: If those jobs aren’t available, what else do you have in mind?
RC: What I really want to do is do something with the government, like the SEC, or with a private foundation.
NLJ: Whatever it is, you said you’d need health insurance, right?
RC: We hypochondriacs automatically think about health care. Health insurance is an important but not critical factor in my next job. It’s not getting any cheaper, and Medicare doesn’t kick in for five years.
NLJ: Before you retire, what do you need to take care of?
RC: For one thing, I’m working with Neil Young on a high-resolution music project. If I take a job with the SEC or something right away, I wouldn’t be able to work with Neil. There will be a reasonable period of transition.
NLJ: Are you nervous about retiring?
RC: There is certain amount of trepidation whenyou’re looking at something like this. By the same token, I vie w this as an opportunity. I really want to give back.
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