Renowned attorney, Johnnie Cochran, died Tuesday afternoon at his home in Los Angeles after suffering from a brain tumor. He was 67.
Cochran, a Louisiana native, grew up in California and attended UCLA and Loyola Marymount University, where he received his law degree. Cochran entered private practice as an attorney in 1965 and opened his own firm, Cochran, Atkins & Evans, soon after. In 1981, his current practice, The Cochran Firm, was established and now has offices in 12 states and the District of Columbia.
His career as an attorney involved a host of star clients including comedian Lenny Bruce, singer Michael Jackson and rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs.
"Johnnie’s career will be noted as one marked by celebrity cases and clientele. But he and his family were most proud of the work he did on behalf of those in the community," said family and members of the firm in a joint statement.
Many students were surprised by Cochran’s death and said they were unaware of his circumstance.
"It’s amazing how he kept his brain condition hid for so long without the public knowing," said Tiffany Harry, a junior criminal justice major from Bogalusa, La.
Harry, who aspires to be an attorney, said Cochran was without a doubt an inspiration and he has definitely paved the way for African American attorneys. "He was one of the best and most famous black attorneys, now his time has come," Harry said.
Cochran was an icon in the eyes of many and he will be mostly remembered by the famous O.J. Simpson trial in 1995 where he convinced jurors of Simpson’s innocence, with his saying, "If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit."
"It was the Simpson case that put me squarely in a position to make a difference. And that was precisely the reason I became an attorney," said Cochran in his 2002 book, "A Lawyer’s Life."
Some students like Andranecia Cox, a junior nursing major from Dallas, Texas, said Cochran had a huge impact as a positive political figure. Cox said, “The legal society has lost a profound leader.”
Without a doubt, family, friends and fans will miss Cochran, however, his life, not only as an attorney but a humanitarian, will live on forever.