By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
MARLTON – When there are so many negative images of African-Americans out there, e-commerce business attorney Karin Y. Coger said she knows that being a “role model” comes with the territory.
Coger, a Philadelphia-area native who started her career as a New Jersey defense attorney said she was surprised when one of her former clients held her up as a role model who helped turned her life around years after representing her in a case that involved domestic violence.
The Howard University School of Law graduate said she learned of the woman’s testimony about her through a colleague who heard the woman tell her story during a church event.
“You’re not holding yourself out there as a role model, but people are paying attention to you,” Coger told Front Runner New Jersey.com about the woman who is now friends with her on social media. “That’s when I knew I was a role model. She was facing second-degree assault charges then and I got her probation. She’s now an interior designer.”
A Love for Children, First Philly
Today, Coger runs her own law firm where she specializes in business law, copyrights, trademarks and e-commerce. For more than a decade, she has served on the First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School board of directors.
The school went up to the eighth grade but Coger helped the charter add a high school component as well.
“I love children,” Coger said. “Education is extremely important in our community. I joined the board 12 years ago and as a charter school, we have the freedom of creating our own curriculum. It’s been great watching the children grow and blossom through the years.”
The school serves a diverse student body from all over Philadelphia, from all ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, concentrating on literacy as the driving factor in achievement in all academic areas.
Coger is also a member of the Metropolitan Philadelphia Area Chapter Continental Societies Inc., an international public service organization dedicated to the socioeconomic and cultural welfare of underprivileged children and youth.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Coger understands the challenges those children at First Philly. She graduate from high school there before earning her bachelor’s degree to HBCU Hampton University and then Howard Law.
Coger said while she loved Washington D.C., she was eventually led back to the Philadelphia area and New Jersey. In the Garden State she started work as a public defender.
“New Jersey has unified court system,” Coger said. “It doesn’t matter what county you practice ink it’s the same law throughout. I work life is in New Jersey and social life is in Philadelphia.”
Coger has appeared in the New Jersey State Courts and the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. She has won verdicts in a wide variety of cases, from personal injury claims, automobile accidents and criminal matters.
She worked as a trial attorney representing insurance companies and big box business in arbitrations, settlement conferences, and trials before striking out on her own opening her own firm a year ago. Coger said her firm allowed her to come full circle with her initial interest in communications and journalism.
Coming Full Circle
She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University where she graduated cum laude and from the school’s Honors College.
“I was always interested in law and media, mass media and broadcast journalism,” Coger said. “I minored in political science in college. Then, I felt I could help people more as attorney than as journalist.
“Now I help people protect their intellectual property,” Coger said. “A lot of people are not taking proper steps to protect their companies. As public defender, I always helped people who had been accused and indicted. I’m doing the same thing with a different, more positive spin.
“It’s been very rewarding. I thought about opening my own firm three years, but I stepped back. Now, you don’t have a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks but I like to help people and network. It’s been great doing that in a non-adversarial way,” she added.
Coger said while she had to briefly step away from some other community service activities while getting momentum behind her private practice, connecting with the communities in Philadelphia and New Jersey are never far from her mind. She said always knows that someone is watching.
Photos and Images courtesy of Karin Coger.
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