Attorney Neil Gehlawat, father give Delano high schools funding boost with generous donation

March 2, 2016 | 8:45 am


* Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

Editor’s Note: Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner Neil Gehlawat and his father, Delano doctor Dilbagh Gehlawat, recently gave a more than generous donation to the Delano Joint Union School District, which was covered by local media. Below is the news release, with information about the donation and how it will help, followed by local media coverage. 

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The Delano Joint Union High School District has received a $100,000 donation from a Bakersfield family and Delano doctor to help provide after-school and weekend tutoring for high school students, mentors for nearby elementary students, scholarships, and a summer bridge program to help incoming high-schoolers succeed.

The donation was made by Dr. Dilbagh Gehlawat and son Neil Gehlawat, an attorney at Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Dr. Gehlawat, a pediatrician, has taken care of children in Delano and surrounding areas for the past 35 years.

“We anticipate this donation could potentially reach hundreds of students,” district Superintendent Terri Nuckols said in a statement.

Said the Gehlawats in a statement: “We believe that education is the great equalizer in our society. No child, regardless of their socio-economic background, should be denied access to educational opportunities that will have a positive impact on their future. Our hope is that this donation will help provide high school students in Delano with the resources and opportunities needed to pursue a college education after high school.”

The donation will allow for the following programs in Delano:

  • Provide after-school tutoring by student mentors for high school students. Funding would pay for teacher coaches, tutor training, and funding additional after-school programs.
  • Provide music consultants and high-achieving students to mentor elementary students in music, math and science, including those in nearby rural school districts in Earlimart and Pond. Many elective programs in these areas were discontinued with the budget cuts over the past several years. Funding would be used to provide tutors, pay music consultants, provide training and for transportation.
  • Provide funding for Saturday school tutorials for students with attendance issues. The program will allow students to make up course work that was missed due to absences.  Funding would pay for sessions at all sites, mentoring, tutoring and instructors.
  • Provide a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen to introduce them to the high school experience and beyond. The program sets a 10-year plan where students could potentially earn college credit while in high school.
  • Provide scholarships to mentors and tutors who successfully participate in any of the programs above.

Dilbagh and Neil Gehlawat were honored at a recent DJUHSD school board meeting. The Gehlawats accepted a plaque from the school district administration.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit in case of Tehachapi teenager killed in DUI hit-and-run

February 17, 2016 | 10:41 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian — a Tehachapi teenage girl — in which the driver was driving under the influence, according to California Highway Patrol reports.

Local media covered a press conference Wednesday morning hosted by Matthew C. Clark and Neil Gehlawat from the personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm. They were joined by the mother and sister of Leslie Balderrama, who was killed in October last year.

Read the news release and click the media links to see full coverage of the press conference and criminal case.

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Bakersfield, Calif. – Leslie Elaine Balderrama was a freshman at Tehachapi High School who excelled in school and out of school, including on the basketball court and through various volunteer endeavors. Add her contagious smile and bright personality, and Leslie was in a league of her own, her family says.

On Oct. 10, 2015, Leslie was walking home from a friend’s house when she was suddenly struck by a pickup truck on the dirt right shoulder of State Route 202.  She eventually succumbed to her injuries, just 15 days shy of her 15th birthday.

The occupants of the truck – Issac Macias, 20, and passenger Ibrahim Essa Gomes, 19 – fled the scene of the crash without calling the police or summoning medical help.  Both Macias and Gomes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.  After the pickup collided with Leslie, Gomes got out of the pickup and looked at her, telling CHP officers later that “she didn’t look like she got that messed up,” despite her not moving. Macias never got out of the pickup.

Despite driving under the influence of alcohol, killing Balderrama, and fleeing the scene, Macias to this date has not been charged with a crime. Gomes, too, has not been charged.

On Wednesday, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Leslie’s mother, Evelyn Denise Natividad, against Macias and Gomes, as well as Exelon Generation Company, LLC and First Solar, Inc., who employed Macias at the time of the collision and entrusted him with the pickup.

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During the press conference, attorney Matt Clark called the suspects in the crash “despicable” and said he has confidence that the Kern County District Attorney’s Office is working on filing criminal charges against the two.

“In my opinion, that is truly despicable conduct. They have every obligation to summon medical help,” Clark said of the hit-and-run under the influence that left Leslie dead. “I have every reason to believe charges are coming. In this type of case, there really needs to be an example set.”

Additionally, mother Denise Natividad spoke about her daughter, and her commitment to school, sports and her community.

“It’s hard every day I have to live without her.”

* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

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MEDIA COVERAGE (FATAL HIT-AND-RUN)

MEDIA COVERAGE (PRESS CONFERENCE / WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT)

MEDIA COVERAGE (SENTENCING)

‘Payoffs’ of victims of sexual assault by Kern County officers under local scrutiny

December 30, 2015 | 3:00 am


A five-part series examining the use of deadly force, rough justice, sexual misconduct and questionable practices among local law enforcement agencies has garnered attention nationwide, including in Kern County.

The series was conducted by The Guardian, a renowned British national daily newspaper that also covers issues in the United States, which found, among other things, that police in Kern County killed more people per capita than in any other American county in 2015.

But one issue in particular highlighted in the series caught the attention of local residents and local media.

The third part in the series, “Sexual assault and the price of silence,” tackles how law enforcement officers in Kern County secretly tried to “buy off” victims in sexual misconduct cases against the men sworn to protect them.

“In no way shape or form is the method that they use involving these victims ethical,” Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn told KGET-17.

This part of the series also includes comments attorneys Neil Gehlawat related to several cases of sexual assault involving Kern County Sheriff’s Department employees. The cases highlighted include:

  • Karen Frye, who was sexually molested at Lerdo Jail by Kern County Sheriff’s Department detentions deputy Anthony Michael Lavis. The law firm filed suit against the county for civil rights violations, conspiracy, sexual assault and battery, negligence, fraud, breach of contract and excessive use of force. The department also attempted to “buy off” Frye by offering her $1,500 in exchange for her agreement to not sue the department. That case settled for $300,000.
  • Jane Doe, a woman who was sexually assaulted by Kern County deputy Gabriel Lopez in her home in Tehachapi. Lopez sexually assaulted at least two other people as well. He pleaded no contest to two counts of assault by a public officer, two counts of false imprisonment, and two counts of sexual battery, and was sentenced to two years in prison.
  • Jane Doe 2, a 79-year-old woman who called the sheriff’s office during a dispute with her husband, who was diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s. She, too, was sexually assaulted by Lopez in a similar fashion to his other victims. The third victim was quietly paid $5,000 by the department, and was unable to bring a civil claim.
  • Two claims against the County of Kern on behalf of two females who were sexually assaulted in separate incidents by Kern County Juvenile Corrections officers while the girls were housed at James G. Bowels Juvenile Hall. Kern County Corrections officer Cesar Holguin Navejar was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting Jane Doe 1. He is currently facing six felony charges including sexual battery, assault by a public officer and child molestation. Jane Doe 2, who was also housed at James G. Bowels Juvenile Hall. That suspect, George Anderson, has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.

Local news outlets interviewed attorneys of Chain | Cohn | Stiles about the cases and the County of Kern’s questionable practices, and also interviewed county counsel, who argued that the practice is both legal and ethical.

Said Gehlawat in The Bakersfield Californian article: “This is reprehensible, these payoffs. They show up with cash in hand and try to pay off these victims.”

* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Attorney Neil Gehlawat named partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

December 23, 2015 | 8:11 am


* Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

Attorney Neil Gehlawat has been named a partner of the prominent Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, managing partner David Cohn announced.

Gehlawat joins David Cohn, Matthew Clark and James Yoro as partners of the law firm. At 27, he is the youngest partner of the firm, and perhaps one of the youngest partners of a law firm in all of Kern County.

“This is an incredible honor. I am extremely grateful and humbled by the opportunity given to me,” Gehlawat said. “I look forward to serving this community and continuing the fight for justice on behalf of people who have been injured or harmed by wrongdoers.”

Gehlawat joined Chain | Cohn | Stiles in 2012 and focuses on personal injury, wrongful death, civil rights and employment cases. He grew up in Bakersfield, graduated from Stockdale High School, and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.

The Bakersfield Californian‘s CEO Richard Beene mentioned the announcement in his popular newspaper column and blog, Bakersfield Observed. Beene wrote:

“Here’s a reason to applaud those children who go away to college but return to put down roots in our community. One of them is Neil Gehlawat, who has been named a partner in the plaintiffs law firm of Chain Cohn Stiles. Gehlawat is a Stockade High School graduate who attended UC Berkeley and the University of Texas School of Law. Not a bad accomplishment for this 27-year-old wunderkind.”

Gehlawat is currently involved in several high-profile civil cases including the David Silva’s wrongful death case, Jose Beltran’s wrongful death case, and representing the victims of sexual assaults in juvenile hall and in Tehachapi by Kern County Sheriff’s Department officers.

Outside of the office, Gehlawat is involved in several community groups and nonprofits. He serves on the planning committee for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County’s annual “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.” He recently joined the board for the India Association of San Joaquin Valley, and is currently participating in Leadership Bakersfield. He was named one of Bakersfield Life Magazine’s 20 Under 40 People to Watch in 2015.

Related to his career, he is the membership chairman for the New Lawyers Division Board for the Consumer Attorneys of California, a member of the technology committee for Kern County Bar Association, and is also the founder of the Cal Alumni Chapter of Bakersfield.

For more on Gehlawat, watch a video about him by clicking here.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles represents Bakersfield residents in exploding e-cigarette cases

November 25, 2015 | 9:41 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing three Bakersfield residents who suffered major burn injuries when electronic cigarettes, or “vapes,” they were using failed and exploded spontaneously.

Roy Iversen, Vicente Garza and Greg Phillips were each severely burned injured when the e-cigarettes they purchased in local shops suddenly exploded. The battery exploded while in the pants pockets of Iversen and Phillips, and Garza’s exploded in his face as he used it.

“Many consumers don’t know or are unaware of the fact that e-cigarettes and ‘vapes’ that are commonly sold in our community have the potential of exploding during use, or spontaneously catching fire,” said Matthew Clark, attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “These items are being marketed and sold without regulation oftentimes to young people in our community who have no idea that the ‘vape’ they’re carrying in their pocket, or e-cigarette they’re putting up to their mouths, can explode and catch fire. As you can imagine, as people are using these devices right next to their faces or carrying them on their person when they catastrophically malfunction, the injuries can be severe and life-changing.”

According to the American Lung Association, electronic cigarette use among young people surpassed traditional cigarette use in 2015 for the first time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the sale and marketing of traditional cigarettes, but does not have authority over e-cigarettes. Additionally, the e-cigarette industry continues to operate with little oversight as manufacturers and sellers rake in billions of dollars.

And now, reports of e-cigarettes exploding when used and causing fires and major injuries are making headlines across the nation. Chain | Cohn | Stiles, on behalf of the victims, has filed complaints against the sellers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes.

Attorneys Matthew Clark and Neil Gehlawat from Chain | Cohn | Stiles – accompanied by a local victim – hosted a press conference recently to discuss the cases. Attorney Gregory L. Bentley held a press conference for Los Angeles area media related to these cases as well. To see complete coverage of these cases, see the “media coverage” section below.

Several of the victims described that they began using e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking, and believing they were safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Instead, they said, they caused more harm.

  • Garza was using the e-cigarette in October in his bathroom when it exploded in his mouth and caused severe injuries to his mouth, tongue and finger. His left index finger was amputated to the first knuckle as a result of the explosion. He also had surgery on his tongue immediately after the explosion, and was hospitalized for seven days. Luxor Café Vape Lounge, Fame Vape and manufacturer Flawless Vapes and Supplies LLC are named as defendants.
  • Phillips suffered second-degree burns over most of his left leg September, which required two skin graft surgeries, after the vape exploded in his pants pocket. Cigarette World is named as a defendant.
  • Iversen was a passenger in a car in November when the device exploded in his pocket. He, too, suffered severe left thigh burns, is unable to work, and uses a cane to walk.

The lawsuits state that e-cigarettes and their components, including lithium ion batteries and chargers, are unsafe and that the businesses in the supply chains failed to properly warn of the defects.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is working with attorney Gregory L. Bentley of the Claremont area on these cases.

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If you or someone you know has been injured while using an e-cigarette or vape, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com and fill out a contact form.

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KERN COUNTY MEDIA COVERAGE

LOS ANGELES MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles sponsors scholarships, celebrates ‘El Grito’ with Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

September 16, 2015 | 11:14 am


Hundreds joined together Tuesday night at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court to celebrate the annual “El Grito,” a major celebration in Mexico that marks the country’s fight for independence against Spanish rule.

The evening included folkloric dancers, mariachi and banda music groups, and a scholarship recognition ceremony — including a representative from sponsor Chain | Cohn | Stiles — honoring six Kern County students and scholarship recipients.

The celebration also included a live feed from the Mexican city of Dolores where President Enrique Peña Nieto led a reenactment of El Grito. Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16. The Grito, which occurred in the small Mexican town of Dolores, was the rallying call made by a Roman Catholic priest in front of his church to the battle against Spain.

The was the fifth year of El Grito celebration in Bakersfield, organized by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, which includes foundation board member and Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos. The event also kicked off Mexican American Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

SCHOLARSHIPS

The Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles sponsored student scholarships presented during El Grito celebration along with Advanced Center for Eyecare and Law Offices of Xochitl M. Garcia, who handles family law.

The sponsors, in partnership with the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, awarded six $250 scholarships to local students in pursuit of higher education, and who are giving back in various ways to our community.

Here are the student scholarship recipients:

  • Alexandria Crisler: Foothill High School graduate and freshman at UC Davis, studying applied chemistry, forensics. On campus, she was the president of the math club, French club and mock trial, and volunteered at Mercy Hospital, Kern Ambulance Explorers, and tutored various underpriveleged students.
  • Paloma Esparza: Ridgeview High School graduate attending Bakersfield College, studying nursing. On campus, she helps mentor incoming nursing students. She also participated in Latina Leaders of Kern County and volunteered for various causes, including dispersing Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in Arvin.
  • Madison Ridley: Bakersfield High School student, who will study chemical engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. On campus, she takes part in STEM courses, Safe School Ambassadors, Link Crew and much more. Her charity, Maddie’s Messages, donates blankets to adults and children who are suffering from cancer and other illnesses.
  • Isaac Solis: Foothill High School graduate and Cal State Bakersfield criminal justice major. On campus he is part of the Spanish Club, mock trial and computer design. Outside of campus, he assists with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 519, and The Way community outreach program.
  • Joanna Valdez: Foothill High School graduate and Bakersfield College student, studying political science. On campus, she takes part in mock trial. In the community, she is part of migrant programs.
  • Ana Zamudio: A Foothill High School graduate, and Bakersfield College student. She is an artist who has been involved in mock trial at school, and as a student mentor.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles represents victims in deputy sexual assault cases

September 9, 2015 | 8:36 am


Two years ago, three women in Tehachapi thought that when a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy came to their homes, they would be safe and protected. Instead, they were subjected to traumatic experiences when they were sexually assaulted at the hands of former deputy Gabriel Lopez.

Lopez pleaded no contest to two counts of assault by a public officer, two counts of false imprisonment, and two counts of sexual battery. In support of two victims represented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, attorneys David Cohn and Neil Gehlawat attended Lopez’s sentencing recently where Lopez’s victims spoke.

Lopez forced one woman to disrobe, after responding to a reported burglary at her home. In another case, Lopez took the woman into a back room and sexually assaulted her, she told the court. Now, she said, she fears law enforcement and is afraid to ask for help if something goes wrong.

“Apologies are nice, but they can’t change what happened and how it affected someone’s life,” she told Judge John S. Somers before his sentencing, according to The Bakersfield Californian.

Somers said Lopez was in a position of power and trust, and therefore rendered his victims powerless against him. If they fought against him, he had the power to have them arrested.

In the end, Somers denied Lopez’s request for felony probation and sentenced him to two years in prison. He will also have to register as a sex offender when he is released.

After the sentencing, the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles spoke with local media about the sexual assault civil case.

“Today at least some justice has been served,” Neil Gehlawat told Eyewitness News after the sentencing. “And I think she can sleep better tonight knowing that this man who did these horrible things to her will be in prison now for two years.”

Attorney David K. Cohn told Bakersfield media that the client who was present at sentencing was relieved Lopez received a prison term, but thinks he deserved more than two years. At a press conference in 2013 announcing the lawsuit, Cohn described Lopez as a “predator” and a “sexual deviant.”

“How does a person like this get through the system?” he asked. “How does he become a sworn officer?”

The civil lawsuit is ongoing.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles also represents two females who were sexually assaulted in separate incidents by Kern County Juvenile Corrections officers while the girls were housed at James G. Bowels Juvenile Hall.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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If you or someone you know has been the victim of police misconduct or sexual assault at the hands of someone in authority, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

New story for old building: The Bakersfield Californian features law firm’s move

July 29, 2015 | 10:00 am


Bakersfield oldest personal injury law firm has officially moved into its new home that is just as storied in Kern County as Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

On Monday, the 80-year-old Chain | Cohn | Stiles moved into 1731 Chester Avenue, on the southwest corner of Chester Avenue and 18th Street. The Bakersfield Californian, in a Sunday feature story, wrote about the law firm’s move and the history of the firm’s new home.

“It’s an old two-story — no one can say precisely how old, but old,” the article states. “Most recently a Goodwill store, the structure has been home to a succession of banks for most of its long life. But it will have yet another use Monday: Chain Cohn Stiles officially puts out its shingle after a six-month, seven-figure renovation that has brought energy and commotion to a downtown corner quiet and forlorn since 2012.”

What remains of the history of the 1930s-era building are three bank vaults, one with a working ventilator, an incinerator, and a demarcation of the structure, designed by noted Bakersfield architect Charles H. Biggar.

To read the complete article, including a timeline of the history of the new Chain | Cohn | Stiles building and pictures from history, click here.

Today, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is operating personal injury and workers’ compensation* practice in a new, (old) building — its fifth home, all of which have been in downtown Bakersfield. Founder Morris Chain opened his firm’s doors in 1934 in the Haberfelde Building. Later, the firm moved to the Sill Building, which is across the street from the new building on Chester Avenue. After 20 years at its M Street home starting in 1970, the firm spent the last 25 years in the Bank of America building.

Now, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is part of the continuing evolution of Bakersfield’s commercial and historical core. As senior partner Matt Clark said: “We like to think that, in some small part, we’re going to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Bakersfield.” The law firm’s partners — managing partner David Cohn, senior partner and workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro and Matt Clark — purchased the building last fall.

The building also includes better parking for clients and more office space, all while staying rooted in downtown Bakersfield.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently unveiled new videos aimed to inform Kern County residents of the move. The 30-second commercial is airing now throughout Kern County.

To watch the video, in English or in Spanish, click here.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles and friends raise funds for League of Dreams sports program for special needs children

June 3, 2015 | 8:16 am


The Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, with the help of several friends of the firm, helped raise more than $2,000 for The League of Dreams as part of the 2015 Kern County Corporate Challenge.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently finished taking part in the Corporate Challenge, an Olympic-style, business-versus-business competition that benefits a local charity, League of Dreams. For six weeks, local companies competed against each other in a dozen athletic and non-athletic games including softball, dodge ball, poker, laser tag, and bowling. Companies fundraised for League of Dreams, which is a free Kern County sports league for children with disabilities.

Among those who graciously donated toward The League of Dreams on behalf of Chain | Cohn | Stiles are as follows:

  • eMedia Marketing Solutions: Erin Henderson is the owner if this Bakersfield-based marketing agency.
  • Dr. Lawrence Miller, MD: Dr. Miller’s runs a international pain management practice with offices in Beverly Hills, Long Beach and Santa Ana.
  • O’Leary’s Office Products: A one-stop source for janitorial, break room and office supply needs, O’Leary’s  is locally owned and operated with more than 20 years of experience serving Kern County businesses.
  • Bob Montgomery Insurance Services: Bob Montgomery provides auto, home, business and commercial insurance services throughout Bakersfield.
  • Atlas Settlement Group, Inc.: This structured settlement insurance agency is comprised of leading professionals located throughout the country, focusing on structured annuities.
  • Quantum Data Systems, Inc.: Quantum provides IT support to a variety of businesses including network administration, desktop support, security, remote computing and database administration.
  • Keleher’s Certified Shorthand Reporters: This family-owned business of court reporters has served Southern San Joaquin Valley since 1952.

League of Dreams representatives says it costs $40 per special needs child per season to take part in the sports league. The participant’s parents and guardians, who are responsible for medical care needed for their children, would not be able to afford for their children to take part without the support of sponsors, like the ones above. Without these sponsors, the league would not be possible.

The mission of the League of Dreams is to work towards fulfillment of its motto, “Every child should have the chance to play!”

Corporate Challenge Recap

Chain | Cohn | Stiles competed against several companies — GAF, Paramount Citrus, In-Shape Fitness, Worklogic, Cameron and  AT&T — in laser tag, poker, horseshoes and dodgeball. To get the law firm excited about the competition, attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat starred in a video about the Kern County Corporate Challenge. The 80s-style video stars the two as they get ready for the challenge. You can watch the video by clicking here.

In the end, the law firm took first place in laser tag, third place in poker, second place in horseshoes and second place in dodgeball.

To see photos from Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ participation in Kern County Corporate Challenge, visit the law firm’s Instagram account by clicking here. And to see photos from through the Kern County Corporate Challenge, visit the Corporate Challenge Facebook page here.

* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

‘Meet the Attorneys’ videos win second place in international legal marketing contest

April 21, 2015 | 7:01 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles was named a second-place winner in the 2015 “Your Honor Awards,” presented by the Legal Marketing Association at its 30th international conference in April 13 in San Diego.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles won second place in the “Advertising” category in the annual Your Honor Awards, which is the only awards program of its kind in the legal field. The law firm won second place for its “Meet the Attorneys” videos,

The “Your Honor Awards” – which included 170 entries in 16 categories from law firms throughout the world this year – recognizes “creativity, execution, achievement and overall excellence in legal marketing, business development and communications,” according to LMA. The award recipients, according to LMA, are recognized “for their industry-leading work.”

The videos are airing now on Kern County television stations as 30-second spots, and can be found online at Chainlaw.com, including 90-second spots. They’re aimed to give viewers a better idea of who their hometown attorneys are, why they became lawyers, and how they could help viewers in the chance they ever needed to contact the firm.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles worked together on the videos with Bakersfield-based Scope Studios (Scope Creative Agency). The videos in December won first place in the advertising category in the California “Your Honor Awards.”

“We’re incredibly honored to have received this outstanding recognition from the largest legal marketing group in the world,” said David Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “It speaks volumes about our commitment to portray our law firm and attorneys in the same way we practice law: with utmost professionalism. Our firm is composed of compassionate and talented lawyers, and I think our television campaign brings that out.”

LMA is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1985 for those in marketing, business development, client service and communications within the legal profession. It has more than 3,500 members in 48 U.S. states, Canada and 15 other countries.

The Legal Marketing Association summarized Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ videos as follows:

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Too often, the general public has a perception that lawyers are disconnected with the clients they serve. It’s important for the public to view their attorneys as approachable, yet, professional. The goal in the latest video advertisements from Bakersfield, Calif.-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles was to break the disconnect barrier in its hometown, and to humanize its attorneys.

The firm’s commercials and Web videos, titled “Meet the Attorneys,” give the public a chance to get to know the firm’s lawyers on a personal level — learn why they became lawyers, what they like most about their jobs and how they can serve them.

The firm created two versions of these videos: The 30-second commercials would appear on local television, and 90-second versions would reside on the firm’s website.

Working with a Bakersfield-based film company, Scope Studios, the firm recorded all seven of the attorneys in similar fashion, answering questions in a candid interview-style format. The hope through these videos is that viewers would choose the attorneys based on their personalities and likability, history in Bakersfield, and their professional accolades. The biggest challenge was trying to develop something that wasn’t the typical personal injury lawyer commercials the public has come to expect — with a “call to action.” The goal was to brand.

From the background music and the slow motion shots of staff to the historical images of the lawyers, the videos put prospective clients in the firm’s offices — showing the care and compassion the firm gives each client. Even without a call-to-action message, the firm received a surge in calls following the videos debut. The videos will be used for more than a year on local TV and on its website. 

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Learn more about the awards and winners by clicking here. To watch the award-winning videos, click here.

To read media coverage of the award, click here to see a mention in The Bakersfield Californian.