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In a moment of reflection, attorney John
M. Power asked his wife, Lori, what it was
about his work as a personal injury att...
them more than others, epitomized for
Power by the Estrada family of Coal City.
Simon and Marcie had six kids. Simon
was a...
and to have patience. And he relies on his
assistant, Kim Stefanek, on whom these
families will come to rely for informati...
mechanical engineering at California
Polytechnic State University. His youngest
son, Zach, will attend Burlington Central
...
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John Power Profile in Leading Lawyers Magazine

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John Power, of Cogan & Power, P.C., works tirelessly to get to know his clients on an individual basis. That includes getting to know the family and learning their story. Helping families is the aspect of his profession that brings him the most satisfaction.

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John Power Profile in Leading Lawyers Magazine

  1. 1. In a moment of reflection, attorney John M. Power asked his wife, Lori, what it was about his work as a personal injury attorney that she respected the most. “She said that was easy. ‘You help keep families together.’” That, he realizes, is the aspect of his profession that brings him the most satisfaction. Power, of Cogan & Power, P.C., works tirelessly to get to know his clients on an individual basis. Commuting from his home in rural St. Charles to his downtown Chicago law office, he has ample opportunity to reach out to clients on a personal level. “I try to call one or two a day during the commute back and forth,” he says. “I ask them how they are doing and tell them what is going on in their cases. I also tell them to call me after hours if they need me.” “What separates John from other attorneys is that when John takes on a client,” says his partner Michael Cogan, “he gives them his office number, his desk (telephone) number, his cell phone number, and (in special circumstances) his home telephone number. In 34 years as an attorney I have never met anyone who makes himself more accessible than John.” That personal touch is emblematic of the genuine concern for his clients and typical of his case preparation in wrongful death, personal injury or medical malpractice cases. “I want to know them so I can tell the jury their story,” Power says. His ability to connect with clients on a personal level is a tribute to his father, Jack, who took him along on sales calls to meet clients, he says. “I was only 5 or 6 years old, and he taught me to make eye contact, shake hands with people and respond in some way to what they were saying. “I owe what I am today to him. He taught me to do the right thing and to help people, not just send them a bill. Clients send me Christmas cards and cookies and remember my birthday. They are part of my life. These were families on the brink of disaster both emotionally and financially. Their whole lives were centered on what might happen over the next 24 hours because things looked so bad at the time. We gave them the emotional support to get them through the stressful time and were able to provide the financial help to save those families.” All attorneys have clients whose catastrophes and resolutions resonate with John Power Injury Lawyer Goes Extra Mile to Help Keep Families Together by Mike Bailey
  2. 2. them more than others, epitomized for Power by the Estrada family of Coal City. Simon and Marcie had six kids. Simon was a truck driver, proud because he was recently able to buy his own truck, Power remembers. About three months after he bought the truck, he was at a rail container yard in a south Chicago suburb where there was a huge backup of vehicles. He got out of his truck to see what was going on and as he returned to his truck, a truck cab backed up to turn around, never seeing Estrada. “He ran over him and basically parked on him,” Power says. “The cab was sitting on top of his pelvis and legs. When the driver saw what had happened, he drove over him a second time to free him.” Simon survived but spent five days in the intensive care unit, suffering a crushed pelvis, two damaged vertebrae, disc injuries, nerve damage and injuries to his knees and ankles. The family lost their four-bedroom house in Coal City and had to move into a two-bedroom apartment, with all six kids. They had no money. Marcie hocked her jewelry. The family ran out of medical coverage, and Simon was discharged from the hospital prematurely. “My sister had a friend who was a lawyer,” Marcie remembers. “He recommended John, so I called him. He was our angel. He has been a super friend to the family and solved a lot of problems for us. He took us under his wing and was our support system. He was like a grandfather to the kids for three years. He kept this family moving forward.” Through discovery, Power learned that the rail yard had been in violation of village ordinances for having too many containers on the property, as well as for its number of vehicles. That and other factors led to a settlement for just under $10 million, which helped the Estradas recover. “It wasn’t about the money for them,” Power says. “They still lived in the two- bedroom apartment. The kids thrived. All of them are honor students with grants to attend private academies. Simon can walk about a block or so with a cane, but he is so much better without the financial stresses.” Those victories make the long commutes worthwhile, he says. Talking Families Through Process Power delves deeply into the lives of the people he represents and draws personal gratification from what he calls “talking them through the process” and assuring them that the outcome will be the best possible under the circumstances. “I’ve heard him on the telephone fighting with health insurance companies on behalf of his clients,” Cogan says. He encourages clients to be realistic Power and wife Lori pose for a photo during the holiday season. From left: Sons Zach and Alex, wife Lori and Power pose on the Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. From left: Sons Zach and Alex and Power golfed at Scotland’s Gleneagles in 2014 three weeks before the United States lost to Europe there in the Ryder Cup. This article originally appeared in Leading Lawyers Magazine—Consumer Edition for 2016 and has been reprinted with permission. © 2016 Law Bulletin Publishing Co.
  3. 3. and to have patience. And he relies on his assistant, Kim Stefanek, on whom these families will come to rely for information, understanding and assistance. “She is the heart and soul for some of these families,” Power says. “We go visit them together. She is a warm and compassionate person, and the families often remember her more than me.” That is all part of what has made Power successful. He has received the highest possible peer-review rating from Martindale- Hubbell, has been named a Leading Lawyer since 2008, is designated as an Illinois Super Lawyer, was elected to the Society of Trial Lawyers, and is invited as a guest lecturer at both Loyola University School of Law and Northwestern School of Law. While Power has secured in excess of $100 million in verdicts and settlements for his clients, what brings him genuine peace are the victories that help ordinary people resume the best life possible under the circumstances, like Buddy Lynch. “Buddy was a roofer, in his early 40s. He lost his hand as a teenager in a black powder gun accident, but he survived and thrived,” Power says. “He was mopping the hot tar on roofs when he suffered a herniated disc.” Doctors then performed the wrong surgery on him, Power says, and performed it poorly. Instead of fusing vertebrae, the surgery made it worse. A second surgery then fused the vertebrae, but during a postoperative assessment, he was asked to push a heavy sled, causing him to rupture another disc. Lynch became despondent, addicted to pain medication and unable to function normally. The $5 million combined settlement plus verdict allowed him to undergo rehabilitation and therapy. He is now off the pain medications and is “doing great,” Power says. “John is very honorable,” says retired Judge Joseph Casciato, who presided over trials and mediations in which Power was involved. “He’s very civil, but a forceful advocate for his client. I would recommend him (to prospective clients).” Attorney Geoff Gifford echoes that sentiment. “I met John about 10 years ago,” he says. “John is truthful, straightforward and candid. (In medical malpractice cases) he has command of the medicine and the procedure. “You get a sense in mediation whether someone knows what he is talking about, and John is very credible. One thing that separates him from other attorneys is that he can handle the pressure of big cases. Not everyone can.” Not all of the cases conclude happily. In some, the best possible outcome is a chance for surviving family members to move on with their lives, such as in the case of a 39-year-old woman who was five weeks pregnant. During a routine procedure, she was given a mild anesthetic meant to put her in a “twilight” state. She never awakened and remained in a persistent vegetative state requiring constant care. With the money from the verdict, her family was able to place her in a facility to care for her for the rest of her life. Power’s middle-class, working family background has served him well. He grew up in Hoffman Estates and was the first college graduate in his family. Always fascinated with medicine, Power started his college career in pre-med but switched to finance. What changed his mind? “Chemistry and biology,” he laughs. With an undergrad degree from Loyola University in finance, Power also pursued a law degree there. Clerking for a personal injury firm while attending law school at night, Power stumbled on an opportunity to become a paralegal with a large Chicago bank that in turn paid for his schooling. On graduation in 1987, he took the advice of people he respected and went to work for a firm that focused on medical malpractice defense work. In 1993, he started his own defense firm, which grew to 13 attorneys before he closed out his side of the practice in 2001 and joined what is now Cogan & Power. “John and I complement each other very well,” says Cogan. “I’m a big picture guy, and John is very detail-oriented. He puts together a memorandum with the theories of the case as the plaintiff’s attorney, but then also lists the ways he would defend,” a method that Cogan says in extremely helpful in preparing a case. “John went from being an excellent defense attorney to one of the best plaintiff’s lawyers in the city,” says Casciato, who served from 1984 to 2005 in the Cook County Law Division. “He had a very good feel for (medical malpractice cases).” When Power was a young defense attorney, he met over 200 doctors helping with depositions, and he took the opportunity to receive invaluable medical training from a wide variety of experts. The medical training — however preliminary — has been vital to his success as a medical One thing that separates him from other attorneys is that he can handle the pressure of big cases. Not everyone can.” malpractice attorney, as demonstrated in a recent $16.3 million settlement that he and his partner Jon Papin obtained. In that case, a 2-year-old girl underwent a surgery designed to correct an abnormality in which the plates of the skull grew together prematurely. As a normal and routine procedure, hospital staff was supposed to draw blood to monitor hemoglobin and oxygen levels in the blood. That was not done for several hours, however, and her levels dropped far below what was acceptable. Today at age 9, she has spastic quadriplegia and is functionally blind — she sees shapes only. But, Power says, she is one of the “sweetest kids” he has ever met. That money will allow the family to care for her for the rest of her life. Teaching Life Skills Power’s intense interest in family extends to his own and to others in his life as well. He says his father gave him the skills to do electrical, plumbing and drywall work, which he used to help build his current family home just west of St. Charles near Burlington. In fact, he says, he acted as his own general contractor doing a lot of the electrical, drywall, painting, staining and landscaping work with the help of his wife. “My dad’s best friend helped us build it. I did all the electrical work with my brother-in-law, along with all of the landscaping,” he remembers. “I had a Bobcat in the yard for months. We built the retaining walls and set the paving bricks for the driveway. I tried a couple of cases that year and still billed a lot of hours and then went home at night and stained and painted the walls and deck. “We spent the money and did the work as we could afford it. I had no sidewalk, and I remember we had to put trim on the outer walls of the house to get an occupancy permit. So we did that in order to move in.” Withthehelpofhisfather,Powereventually finished the basement over a few years. He even built some of the furniture in the home, a passion of his when he is not practicing law. But even more compelling is Power’s reach to young people today to teach them the skills his father taught him. “A couple of us in the neighborhood wanted our sons to have these skills so we bought a house to rehab and tore it down to the studs and taught them how to bend conduit and mud walls. I love looking at blueprints, another skill my dad taught me.” Power’s son, Alex, 21, has taken to those skills, admirably and is currently studying This article originally appeared in Leading Lawyers Magazine—Consumer Edition for 2016 and has been reprinted with permission. © 2016 Law Bulletin Publishing Co.
  4. 4. mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University. His youngest son, Zach, will attend Burlington Central High School as a junior this fall. When he is not building homes, crafting furniture, or practicing law, Power enjoys golf, a sport he has shared with his children. Alex competed in the Illinois High School Association state golf tournament, and Zach will be a varsity golfer this fall. In fact, family vacations to Ireland and Scotland often revolve around a few rounds of the gentleman’s pursuit. Fellow attorney Richard Donohue has golfed with Power and paid him the ultimate golfer’s compliment. “My Dad told me you can tell a lot about a person’s character by whether or not he cheats at golf. John does not cheat,” he laughs. “Besides that, he’s very professional in the courtroom, easy to work with and not caustic or combative like some attorneys. He’s very well-liked (by the bar).” Power’s wife, a former senior financial analyst at Equity Office, a Sam Zell company, enjoys serving as a substitute teacher in primary education in District 301, largely in order to stay close to their children. But the personal satisfaction and enjoyment she received from the children has made it a passion she pursues out of pure joy, he says. Lori also volunteers at a shop whose profits are directed to at-risk teenage mothers. The Powers also work with the Fox Valley Pregnancy Center, donating car seats and cribs to needy families. The Powers’ charity work extends internationally as well. Power went to Ecuador with a group to electrify a shop so it could provide vocational training for at-risk children from Quito. Because of the high rate of theft at the border, the group had to carry 100-pound coils of electrical wire into the village, packed in clothing donated by Illinois families. “When we got to the village, we laid out the donated clothes and all the kids got to go around three times and ‘shop’ for what they wanted. It was really cool,” he says. “John is so humble about what he does,” says Marcie Estrada. “But when we went to court, he was such a fighter for us. I never saw that side of him. He was so kind to our family and represented us so well in court, I just can’t say enough about him.” I This article originally appeared in Leading Lawyers Magazine—Consumer Edition for 2016 and has been reprinted with permission. © 2016 Law Bulletin Publishing Co.

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