The presentation of the fifth annual Cohen Professional Scholars competition, designed to address integrity in the legal profession, was made on Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the Great Hall by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bruce R. Cohen (Class of 1981), and his wife Loren.
The Cohens sponsor the competition in which the winners receive scholarships and plaques. The students also will accompany the couple on a trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles for a private tour.
The Cohens have long recognized the accomplishments and distinction of each member of the entering law class. Cohen noted, however, that "as soon as it is known to others that someone is attending law school and is studying to become an attorney, that person is subjected to ridicule and 'lawyer jokes.' While students aren't responsible for this less-than-stellar reputation of the legal profession," he added, "they must assume the responsibility for changing the public view by bringing honor to the profession. By instilling that message from the start of their law education, we are hoping that it assists the students in this undertaking."
Cohen said this year's essays were exceptional and the selection process was challenging. "Each year, when Loren and I review the submissions, our optimism for the future of the legal profession is renewed," he said. "We are always amazed by the breadth of topics covered and insights demonstrated in the essays."
Corral-Nava captured a core concept regarding maintaining integrity. Cohen said she poetically noted that what people do and accomplish in their professional and personal lives is based largely on facing the day's challenges and being prepared to do so on every following day.
Her essay, "Resiliency," focused in an abstract way on the richness and fullness of her experiences, even the moments in which she feels the most defeated and challenged as a law student. "The most important factor I see contributing to the legal profession is to never quit," Corral-Nava said. "Never give up, and simply choosing to get up each and every day and do it all again is what keeps us grounded."
She said was surprised to be selected the first-place winner, and that, in the midst of preparing for final exams, facing deadlines and spending long hours in the library, "This honor could not have come at a better time."
To read Corral-Nava's essay, click here.
Cohen commented that Ganes McCulloch poignantly addressed the difficulty of selecting between just two viable choices, and showed that integrity is not simply measured by choosing between right and wrong. McCulloch's essay, "Ethical Call to Duty," likens a choice made by a young man at a busy international border, where a distraught woman asks him to carry her children's medications across that border, an act that was illegal but necessary.
McCulloch said the best part of being named a Cohen Scholar isn't the recognition or scholarship money, but the chance to meet with the Cohens after the awards ceremony.
"He is a sincere man," McCulloch said of the judge. "One can't help but feel like every word he speaks is truly from his heart. It was a privilege to spend some time conversing with the two of them."
To read McCulloch's essay, click here.
The Cohens were moved by Moskow's recognition that the small things people do create larger-scale issues. "If unchecked, minor departures from a proper course of action contribute to the major violations of one's integrity," Cohen said. The essay, "Integrity," references the "broken window theory," which says that when vandals break a window and it's left unfixed, more windows will be broken, vandals will move in and fires will be set. In the same way, small things that fracture our integrity invite bigger things, Moskow wrote.
To read Moskow's essay, click here.