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John D. Cooney, 36

Principal, Brown & James

John D. CooneyLocation: St. Louis

Practice Area(s): Civil defense, insurance law, premises liability, products liability

Law School: University of Missouri

Some of John D. Cooney’s earliest memories involve visiting the downtown St. Louis law office of his father, John F. Cooney, and then accompanying him to a Cardinals baseball game.

Fast-forward several decades: The younger John is himself a lawyer, and he works at the downtown firm Brown & James. While there, he has served as co-chair of the firm’s annual client seminar, spending months every year planning and coordinating presentations and logistics for the event.

In his practice, he focuses on civil defense. In one case, he encountered a familiar face: Cooney was retained by a defendant in a property-damage case in Madison County, Missouri, and by sheer coincidence, his father was retained by the co-defendant.

Together, they won a defense verdict, and after the jury left, snapped a photo of themselves in the courtroom — for posterity.

What advice do you have for young lawyers?

Be willing to put in the time and immerse yourself in your cases so that you know them inside and out. I find that it is often the smallest details that are the difference between a favorable and unfavorable result in a case, whether it be finding a key notation in a medical record or tracking down a witness that is difficult to find.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what profession would you have chosen?

Due to my natural athleticism and raw strength, it’s hard to imagine that I would not have been a professional athlete of some sort, or more likely, a U.S. Olympian. I decided to go to law school instead.

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