Women Worth Watching 2015
Abbi L. Cohen
This Dechert Partner Is a Leading Environmental Lawyer
Abbi Cohen has been recognized as a leading environmental lawyer by many legal publications and directories for more than a decade. She focuses her practice on evaluating environmental liabilities associated with corporate, real estate, and financing transactions—including with respect to energy—and providing state and federal permitting and regulatory compliance advice. She has assisted clients in siting and permitting industrial facilities, including resource recovery and cogeneration facilities, as well as power plants.
Abbi has provided environmental advice on thousands of transactions nationally and internationally, ranging in value from tens of millions of dollars to billions of dollars. She played a prominent role on behalf of the Mortgage Bankers Association in a highly publicized negotiated rule-making with the US Environmental Protection Agency on the environmental due diligence rules under the federal Superfund law.
“…you can’t wait for your career to happen to you; you have to take control and create the career you want.”
“I called several real estate and banking trade associations with whom I wasn’t currently working to alert them to an upcoming US Environmental Protection Agency negotiated rulemaking that had the potential to dramatically affect how environmental investigations of real property was conducted,” said Abbi of this pivotal role. “As a result, I was retained to represent the Mortgage Bankers Association in the most interesting project of my career. I learned that you can’t wait for your career to happen to you; you have to take control and create the career you want.”
She also helped a leading US rating agency develop environmental assessment and insurance criteria, and evaluate the potential impact of environmental conditions on mortgage-backed securities in numerous transactions.
Abbi lectures and writes frequently on environmental issues in business transactions and is an active participant in community affairs. On behalf of the firm, she is the outside general counsel to the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Abbi serves on the Spectrum Awards committee of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Red Cross and the Public Interest Law Corporation board, as well as several other national real estate, energy, and environmental organizations.
Education: University of Pennsylvania Law School
First Job: CONRAIL Law Department Associate
What I’m Reading: “What Works for Women at Work” by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey
Words I Live By: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
…confidence. Even if you are not feeling particularly confident, the act of projecting a confident demeanor will go a long way to assuring your audience that they are in the presence of a capable and competent professional.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Take time periodically to evaluate what you like and don’t like about the work you are doing and develop a plan to ensure that you can spend more of your time working on what you enjoy or value the most.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…that I would have undertaken more significant local community involvement much earlier in my career. My pro bono work, including serving as outside counsel to the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, has been very rewarding and has taught me valuable management and leadership skills that would have been helpful in my early professional work.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…turn off the computer and i-phone.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…when I called several real estate and banking trade associations with whom I wasn’t currently working to alert them to an upcoming US Environmental Protection Agency negotiated rulemaking that had the potential to dramatically affect how environmental investigations of real property was conducted. As a result, I was retained to represent the Mortgage Bankers Association in the most interesting project of my career. I learned that you can’t wait for your career to happen to you; you have to take control and create the career you want.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…sometimes challenging, sometimes a benefit and, at the best of times, a non-issue.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…not necessarily when the wrong outcome occurs; it is when you don’t spend the time to anticipate reasonably foreseeable outcomes or to develop alternative strategies or solutions to potential problems.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…taking time to enjoy my family, time for myself and, through my pro bono and charitable work, time for others.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…as a first year attorney, I presented a formal, briefed legal argument in Philadelphia’s lowest court and received spontaneous applause from the audience comprised of parties and lawyers waiting for their small claims cases to be heard.