Barry Law Alumni Spotlight: Cohen Law Group
Although Jayme Buchanan (’10), Jordan Mejeur (’14), Scott Millard (’10) and Ana Cristina Torres (’10) each took a different path leading to Barry Law School, since graduation they’ve all come to work at to the same Central Florida law firm. Now, their latest professional step there is a big one. All four have been recently named as partner in Cohen Law Group in Maitland, and each one gives significant credit to Barry Law for successfully shaping their respective journeys toward this latest career success.
Buchanan was working for a law firm in Delaware as a legal assistant handling asbestos cases when she decided to pursue a law degree. “Barry offered me a scholarship, and when I came down to visit I knew right away it would be a good fit,” she says. Once at Barry, Buchanan’s involvement in student organizations such as the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity, the Environmental Law Society and the Earth Advocacy Clinic proved to be rewarding experiences. “The hands-on environment in the Earth Advocacy Clinic was unlike anything else in law school,” she recalls, “and it’s something I encourage all law students to participate in.”
After graduation, Buchanan passed the bar and worked for a time with a fellow Barry alumni attorney in Lakeland before being recruited to join Cohen Law Group. Today, she works exclusively as the firm’s Intake Attorney, serving as the point of contact for each property damage client, guiding the litigation attorneys, overseeing client relationships and managing client requests and files. Buchanan particularly enjoys working side-by-side with a number of fellow Barry Law alumni. “Our law firm has brought in so many talented attorneys based on our relationships from Barry, plus we’ve had a lot of interns from Barry,” she says. “Since I went to law school with the intention of helping people, I am proud of the attorneys I work with and what we do. We help companies who wouldn’t be in business without the work we do and homeowners who don’t know who to turn to when their homes are damaged. That’s what makes this job worth doing every single day.”
Outside the firm, Buchanan is actively involved the Orange County Bar Association and the Florida Justice Association. Which leads to some important advice she has for current Barry law students. “Get involved. Meet people,” she urges. “The relationships I developed at Barry help build the camaraderie and legal talent I get to work with every day.”
Mejeur grew up in Louisiana as an avid outdoorsman and athlete who admits he didn’t have the best college grades but knew he wanted to go to law school. After graduating from LSU with a Communications degree, he says Barry Law School in Orlando caught his attention with its “welcoming and friendly environment.” As a Barry student, Mejeur became involved in Moot Court Honors Board where he earned a share of the Quarter Finalist award at the national Moot Court Competition. Subsequently, he was awarded Barry’s Moot Court Honors Board “Outstanding Graduate Award” in 2014. During his time as a student, Mejeur also discovered he preferred civil law. “While at Barry I completed my Certified Legal Internship with the State Attorney’s office,” he remembers. “It was a great experience, but I soon learned I had no interest in criminal law.” After passing the bar, he applied to numerous firms “but it was Cohen Law Group that hired me on the spot,” he says.
Today, Mejeur is one of the Team Leaders of the firm’s litigation division of the first party property damage department. He specializes in first party property insurance disputes, representing both insureds and contractor-assignees as well as homeowners in construction defect disputes. “Our firm has played a large role in developing recent case law specific to first party property disputes,” he says, “and it’s rewarding to be on what I consider to be the forefront of that development.”
Mejeur is also committed to giving back. In addition to membership in the Orange County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division and Florida Justice Association, he has returned to Barry numerous times since graduating to help Moot Court teams prepare for competition. And, he has meaningful advice for all Barry students. “Don’t settle for average – strive for greatness,” Mejeur says. “If you don’t love what you do, don’t force it. Go find something else. When you find something you love, you won’t work a day in your life.”
Millard’s first legal experience prior to law school was as a process server in his native Michigan. After earning a double major from Central Michigan University in Earth Science and Social Science with a minor in Legal Studies, he recalls “I wanted to go into aquatic biology, however, algebra and chemistry helped me follow my other dream – becoming a lawyer.” Millard cites “either divine intervention or spectacular coincidence” in his decision to attend Barry Law. “I received a letter about my eligibility for a Barry Law School scholarship the same day my father asked me to drive some items to my grandfather in Florida.” So he visited Barry, and soon became a student involved in the Young Lawyers Section and participating in Moot Court competitions. In addition to the concepts of law, Millard says “Barry also taught me how to prepare, which is a vital skill when it comes to arguing motions, taking depositions or in a trial. I also learned how to tailor what I was doing to be best received by a specific audience. For instance, when you take a test, what is the professor looking for? It works like that for judges, too.”
After graduation, Millard began his career as an attorney focused on criminal defense in a small Michigan firm, where he quickly earned some headline-generating experience. “In my first 6 weeks of practice, a judge held me in contempt and sent me to jail because I properly asserted my client’s 5th Amendment right to remain silent to the judge’s incriminating questions,” he says. “That judge was later sanctioned because of his conduct.” In another headline occasion, Millard’s appeal on a different case was eventually upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court. When he and his wife decided to move back to Orlando, he soon joined Cohen Law Group “because several of my former Barry classmates recruited me,” he says. Today, he is a Property Damage Team Leader at the firm handling first party property damage and construction defect claims.
Millard’s advice for law students? “If your motivation to become a lawyer is a desire to make a bunch of money, just turn around now and go into something else,” he says. “If you have passion for the law and a desire to give 100% to your practice, you’ll be fulfilled, accomplished and successful. The money will follow.”
ANA CRISTINA TORRES
Ever since she was a child growing up in New York, Torres knew she wanted to be a lawyer. That desire became even stronger in the summers during her undergraduate college years when she worked for a downtown Manhattan law firm as a legal intern. After graduating from Binghamton University, Torres worked for three years as a paralegal for a personal injury firm in Brooklyn before deciding to attend law school in Central Florida. After accepting a Barry Law scholarship, she immersed herself in her studies while simultaneously serving as a Senior Editor of Barry’s Law Review. Due to her legal writing skills, Torres was selected as a teaching assistant for Barry’s Legal Research and Writing department. Based upon those experiences at Barry, Torres has some words of wisdom for current law students. “The first year of law school can be very overwhelming, but once you get into your second and third year you’ll start to feel more confident,” she says. “Definitely get involved with the different organizations on campus. Also, making contacts in law school is something that can be helpful for the rest of your career.”
After completing law school, Torres worked for a sole practitioner while waiting to receive the bar results. Once she became a licensed attorney she started working for a large firm in Orlando but was soon recruited to work at Cohen Law Group. Her early post-Barry career journey prompts Torres to share some advice with recent law school graduates. “Don’t be disappointed if you don’t find your dream job right away,” she says. “It took me several jobs to finally find the one that I loved. But definitely use every opportunity to learn as much as you can from more experienced colleagues – and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”
Today, as a newly-named partner at Cohen Law Group, Torres practices primarily in the area of first part insurance disputes, representing insured and third-party assignees. “I am very proud to be part of an amazing team that always goes above and beyond to help our clients every day,” she says.
MORE BARRY CONNECTIONS
Joining Buchanan, Mejeur, Millard and Torres in being named as the newest partners at Cohen Law Group is Isabel Arias [left] – who, while not a Barry Law alum, does have a strong Barry connection. Her mother is a longtime faculty member at Barry University in Miami. Additionally, two other attorneys at the firm – Margaret Garner (’10) [middle] and Natisha Quijano (’10) [right] – are also Barry Law alumni. “We are very lucky to have so many extremely talented attorneys connected to Barry working at Cohen Law Group,” says Buchanan. “And we are all thankful to Harvey Cohen for his trust, his guidance and his assistance in getting all of us to the point in our careers!”
About Cohen Law Group
Cohen Law Group was founded by Harvey V. Cohen and today employs more than 50 employees, including 16 attorneys. The firm is recognized throughout Florida particularly for assignment of benefit contract cases pertaining to the restoration industry. Cohen Law Group also offers services related to personal injury, criminal defense, insurance claims, family law, employment law, mass tort litigation and ADA compliance.