I don’t talk much of my time at Cohen, Weiss, & Simon. I was an associate there for almost a year and it was a short stay in between my time working for third-party administrators and that other law firm, I joke about. There is a chapter about it in my first book and it’s not something I focus on.
My time there was odd. It was a bad fit. I was a 401(k) lawyer interested in the sales and marketing process, and they were a union law firm, not interested in that. I wasn’t 40 yet and I had two little kids and getting homes by a good hour was high on my list and not on theirs.
However, I met a law firm partner there named Joe Vitale. I had very little interaction with him over work, but he was the sweetest man you could meet. Unlike most law firm partners, he tried to interact with the associates and learn about them. He was funny and a joy to be with. He was a mensch in a business where law firm partners aren’t mensches. Now and then, I check the website to see who I knew is still there and I was saddened to read that Joe passed away suddenly this past December.
I joke that being a law firm partner means you’re never wrong. Joe didn’t have to be a mensch, but that is the core of who he was and I am sad that he is no longer around and I feel for his wife and kids.