The Journey of Harvey Cohen
By Brian Ramsey • February 2017 • Real Producers, Orlando Edition 19 • Pages 18-19
No one speaks of the travel or the journey as the “end game” – unless you meet Harvey Cohen. Cohen is the master designer behind a large law firm, significant property development experience and Homeowner’s Title Company who somehow never “arrives” at his life mission but continues to provide solutions and service to his client family. It is just who he is.
Growing up, Harvey dreamed of becoming a lawyer. He likes to think of it as foreshadowing his skill set, but he admits that people used to tell him that he was destined to be an attorney due to his argumen- tative or feisty spirit. Having lost his father at age seven, Cohen attributes his formative development to his grandfather and uncle. His grandfather was an American dream story who became a busi- nessman in Chicago by opening a clothing store which later led to the spawning of nearly ten other locations. Harvey’s uncle had a law background in litigation but made his name known in the '60s buy- ing and selling steel. He later owned banks, retail places and multiple properties.
After high school, Harvey entered the army where he served four years. He remembers his irritation with his commanding officer who made him save nearly one-third of his monthly pay – which later proved crucial to his financial support in college. After serving in multiple locations in the states and in Panama during the Noriega regime, Cohen returned to enter the University of Central Florida to study psychology. Upon completion, he entered Stetson University College of Law, Florida’s first law school and one of the nation’s top trial advo- cacy schools. There Harvey developed an insatiable desire to spar with the best legal minds in the courtroom. Following graduation, Cohen served as a state’s attorney in Orlando for the 9th Judicial Circuit finding great success at first in misdemean- ors and then within one year prosecuting felons. Cohen’s efforts led to his nickname of “Hard-Core- Harvey.” Still, he knew that he had not “arrived.”
At just two years in service and in his early thirties, Harvey suffered the loss of his hero, his grandfather. This emotional event caused Cohen to take pause, step back and give a serious look at his life. With a considerable amount of past success and a very bright future, he wondered if he was really fulfilling his life’s purpose. Sure, the work was fun, his cohorts were great, the money was dismal, but Harvey felt himself longing to forge his own path. After watching the other attorneys in the courtroom daily, he finally concluded, “If they can do it, so can I.”
Thus, the Law Office of Harvey Cohen was born! Perhaps the most difficult case that he “argued” in the beginning was with his wife who explained that a failing refrigerator threatened to affect the food prepara- tion process at home. With extremely limited funds, Harvey noted that they sacrificially put their resources into his practice. He opened what he describes as a “closet office” in a building dedicated to executive suites where he and his assistant had to share a desk that originally belonged to his grandfather. Perhaps it was a constant reminder of some of the qualities that he admired in him like perseverance, tenacity and resolve.
Nevertheless, Harvey started his work focusing on personal injury cases. He, like other attorneys, pro- moted his services to victims of ac- cidents, but Harvey worked extremely hard to let people know about him as a person and a lawyer. You could say that he combined his skill set and personal qualities and became, “Hard- Core-Harvey-with-a-Heart!” In very little time, Cohen’s business grew, and he added space and other employees. His purchase of a small office building downtown became the harbinger for later property purchases with a host of connections in the world of real estate. Remain- ing fiscally conservative, Harvey continued to work hard, save his money and grow his influence.
As the law practice grew, Cohen established a new dimension by pursuing first party insurance claims (personal injury protection cases). In advocating for doctors and later homeowners and restoration companies, Harvey found extreme satisfaction in helping people to protect their resources and in providing solutions to problems that few could. For those who like happy endings, Harvey’s wife, Betsy, did eventually get her new refrigerator. Cohen credits his family with unending support. He and Betsy have a son, Parker, who is learning to navigate middle school and a daughter, Madi- son, who will be pursuing a degree in psychology at LSU and then law school (no surprise). The family loves to be together, and Harvey refers to Betsy as the “glue” that keeps everything con- nected in the right way.
Today, Harvey’s achievements include a large law firm, Cohen Law Group (over 20 lawyers), multiple investment properties and a title company that provides extreme attention to the details and superior service needed in helping those in real estate reach their goals of home ownership. One might think that surely Harvey has now “arrived.” Though many have expressed those words to Harvey, this unassuming innovator finds that curious and just considers each progressive step in the journey. Cohen considers success in life as securing happiness in each phase. Each day, Harvey Cohen seeks to make each element in his life a little better. He notes that there is no substitute for hard work and endless energy and that life is not full of shortcuts.
Over time, this journey has become a beautiful collage of Cohen’s skills, experience and philoso- phy of business. He probably will never “arrive” in his career as he seeks to stay the course forward. Who knows, maybe we will see Harvey Cohen in a Grisham novel someday, but until then, Hard-Core- Harvey-with-a-Heart will keep building his life one chapter at a time.
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