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A Strong Sense of Justice


Article by Denise K. James

Photography by Charles Beason

Glenda Cochran has always felt the distinct calling to become a trial lawyer and do her part to uphold the justice system. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration, she enrolled at Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, which, she says, “has a reputation for a solid trial program.” She has never looked back. Recognized throughout Birmingham and beyond as an exceptional and tenacious litigator, today she leads a thriving law firm, Glenda Cochran Associates. 

While attending law school, Glenda worked as a clerk for a local firm. As soon as she graduated, however, she was eager to jump right into the fray, trying her first case just a week after passing the bar exam. A plaintiff’s lawyer by nature, Glenda maintains that her life perspective is the reason she excels at her craft. “Some [in the profession] are natural defense lawyers, and some are natural plaintiff lawyers,” she explained. “ I suppose some could do both, but in my experience, most have a natural slant.  It’s in my nature to advocate for the underdog, the injured person.”

This natural advocacy is the result of caring deeply about a fair outcome. With strong faith in the jury system, Glenda appreciates litigation as a process to seek and expose the truth. It takes a lot of hard work, attention to detail, and perseverance to uncover all the witnesses and sift through all the facts necessary to honor the victim and tell their story in its entirety.  That means rooting out all of the evidence of the circumstances surrounding not only the victim’s accident and how it occurred but also its aftermath, how it has affected their life.        

“Litigation shows the whole picture,” she added. “And I like litigating for the people who don’t have a voice. I remember one case I had, years ago, in which my client had been in an accident and suffered a severe, traumatic brain injury that drastically affected his personality.  His little daughter said to me, ‘I just want my daddy back.’  Of course, he was still there — but he was not really her same daddy following his accident. It just shows how severe injuries can be so devastating to the lives of not only victims but also their loved ones.”

Glenda noted that Birmingham has always been a trial town and is home to “some of the best lawyers in litigation.” Her own daughter, Coco McKay, currently attending Tulane University School of Law, also looks to carry on the litigation tradition. Glenda looks forward to watching that process unfold. “Coco has already been successful in Tulane’s trial program,” Glenda says proudly, while quickly adding that she can’t take the credit for it. “I think people are just born with this talent,” she mused. “And my daughter is very good. She can think on her feet, make the right arguments, and make the right connections.”