As stated by the National Law Journal, Joseph W. Cotchett is considered by plaintiffs and defense attorneys alike to be one of the foremost trial lawyers in the country. He has been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the nation for the past 15 years and in 2013, was named by Super Lawyers to be the number ONE lawyer in Northern California as named by his peers.
As reported in the San Francisco / Los Angeles Daily Journal, he is ?considered one of the best trial strategists in the state? who built a career out of representing the underdog against powerful interests. He is a fearless litigator and once tried two cases at the same time (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and won them both in San Diego Superior Court in 1984. His clients range from corporate giants to groups like Consumers Union ? but the issue must be correct for Cotchett. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle rated him as one of the best in the Bay Area, saying, ?The Burlingame attorney has had a star career that?s not only talked about in legal circles but has made headlines around the country. Known mostly as a plaintiffs? lawyer, many of his cases are filed on behalf of fraud victims, and have a widows-and-orphan flavor to them.?
Cotchett consistently has been named one of the most influential lawyers in California,and has been named by the legal press as one of the top 10 trial attorneys in the state and has been listed in every edition of Best Lawyers in America since its inception.
During his 45-plus year legal career, he has tried more than 100 cases to verdict, and settled hundreds more, winning numerous jury verdicts, ranging from multi-million dollar malicious prosecution jury verdicts to several defense verdicts in complex civil cases. He successfully negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement in a qui tam suit on behalf of the University of California and hundreds of millions of dollars in antitrust, securities and major fraud cases.
In recent years, Cotchett has taken on major corporate entities and Wall Street. He and the firm are involved in litigation resulting from nearly every major corporate scandal including Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing, Homestore.com, Qwest, Montana Power Company, Lehman, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and numerous others on behalf of private investors and public pensions. The firm has represented the California Public Employees? Retirement System, California State Teachers? Retirement System, and the University of California Board of Regents, along with numerous political subdivisions of the state, such as counties, cities and districts.
Cotchett received his B.S. in Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo in June 1960, being named an Outstanding Graduate, and his J.D. from Hastings College of Law at the University of California in June 1964. In June 2002, Cotchett received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Cal Poly and The California State University Board of Trustees. In May 2006, Cotchett received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Notre Dame de Namur University. ?In May 2011, Cotchett received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of San Francisco. In each case, he was the graduation speaker honored by the Universities.
Following college, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, followed by years as a Special Forces paratrooper and JAG Corps officer, in the active reserves. He retired in 1991 with the rank of Colonel with various citations including the Legion of Merit. He is a member of many veteran and airborne associations having served on active duty 1960-1961. From 2001 to 2005, he served on the board of the Army War College Foundation in Carlisle, Pennsylvania which supports the prestigious Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, the graduate school for the senior commanders of all branches of the service, including officers from foreign allies.
He has been an active member of national, state and local bar associations, including the California, New York and District of Columbia bars. He is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers and The International Society of Barristers and an Advocate in the American Board of Trial Advocates. He also is a Fellow and former board member of The International Academy of Trial Lawyers. A former Master of the American Inns of Court, he serves on various advisory boards for professional organizations
He is the author of numerous articles and a contributing author to numerous magazines. His books include California Products Liability Actions, Matthew Bender; California Courtroom Evidence, LexisNexis; Federal Courtroom Evidence, LexisNexis; Persuasive Opening Statements and Closing Arguments, California Continuing Education of the Bar (1988); The Ethics Gap, Parker & Son Publications (1991); California Courtroom Evidence Foundations, Parker Publications (1993); and numerous law review articles. He is a prolific author of op-ed pieces and articles on public policy, environmental issues and public integrity. In 2002, he co-authored and published the book The Coast Time Forgot, a historic guide to the San Mateo County coast.
Cotchett serves on various Federal Judicial Advisory Committees, that submits and reviews federal judicial nominations in California to President Obama. The committee was authorized by the Obama Administration and California's two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Cotchett is presently Chair of the Boxer Committee for the Central District of California (Los Angeles) and advises statewide. ?Cotchett also serves on a Judicial Advisory Committee to Governor Jerry Brown on state judicial appointments in Northern California.
Cotchett has lectured at numerous law schools including Harvard Law School, the University of Southern California, Georgetown Law Center, Stanford, Boalt, and his alma mater U.C. Hastings. His subjects include complex cases, evidence, trial practice and professional ethics. He also is a keynote public speaker and lecturer on contemporary subjects of law.
He has been honored by the State Bar of California by serving on the Board of Governors from 1972 to 1975. Cotchett served on the California Judicial Council from 1976 to 1980; the Board of Directors, Hastings College of Law, University of California for twelve years; California Commission on Judicial Performance (1978-1982); California Commission on the Future of the Courts; the California Select Committee on Judicial Retirement, the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, the latter three appointed by the Chief Justice of California.
Professional AffiliationsCalifornia Bar Association
New York Bar Association
District of Columbia Bar Association
American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
The International Society of Barristers, Fellow
The American Board of Trial Advocates, Advocate
The International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
California Inns of Court, Master