Chain | Cohn | Stiles nominated for Beautiful Bakersfield award

June 22, 2016 | 5:45 am

Each year, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that help improve the quality of life in Bakersfield, and honors them during the annual Beautiful Bakersfield Awards gala.

For 2016, nominations were received in 17 categories including humanitarian, arts and culture, education, and businessperson of the year, among many others.

For its work in helping revitalize downtown Bakersfield with a six-month, seven-figure renovation of an old 30,000 square-foot building — the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles was nominated for a Beautiful Bakersfield award in the “renovation/tenant improvement” category.

Learn a little more about the accident and injury law firm’s recognition, as well as the awards program, here:


Revitalizing downtown Bakersfield

Chain | Cohn | Stiles turned one of the city’s oldest building into a modern workplace that helped to contribute to ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Bakersfield.

After spending 30 years in the Bank of America building on Chester and Truxtun avenues, the 80-year-old local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles moved into a new building in August 2015. The six-month, seven-figure renovation of the 30,000 square-foot building on the southwest corner of Chester Avenue and 18th Street has changed the landscape of one of downtown Bakersfield’s most historic intersections. With the help of architect Paul Skarphol and contractor Dave Whitezell, Chain | Cohn | Stiles took a shell of a building that once housed Goodwill Industries and sat vacant for nearly three years, and turned it into a modern workplace for the 30-employee firm.

Some of the work included cutting new windows into 17-inch reinforced concrete walls on the north side of the building, creating a new internal work space and completely renovating the entire first floor, repainting the exterior and adding signs and lights around the exterior to shine on downtown Bakersfield. The law firm has worked with Boss Pizza and Bakersfield Downtown Business Association to install lights and other efforts to make the alleyway and nearby area safer.

Additionally, the firm added “green elements” including energy-efficient lighting and a cutting-edge climate control system. The front lobby – with hanging ring lights and a glass lit logo sign – with a connecting large conference room are welcoming sights for clients, visitors, media and others who have used the new space. In fact, these areas are often used by other local organizations for meetings and gatherings – including Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kern County’s regular meetings.

To add an aesthetic feel downtown, the logos have the ability to change colors, and have been changed to observe various holidays and designated dates throughout the year (red for Go Red for Women, pink for breast cancer awareness, etc.)

At one point, all buildings in the corners at the intersection of Chester Avenue and 18th Street sat vacant – a dark visual of the depressed business area in downtown Bakersfield. Opening an established, thriving business office in the area was “a hopeful sign for the continuing evolution of Bakersfield’s commercial and historical core,” according to The Bakersfield Californian.

For its work, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has already received the Downtown Beautification Project award from the Bakersfield Downtown Business Association.


And the winner is …  

The Beautiful Bakersfield Awards has been held annually since the 1990s and this year was held June 4 at the Double Tree Hotel, hosted by KGET Channel-17’s Jim Scott and Tami Mlcoch. To see the complete awards program, filmed by TBC Media, click here, and individual category awards can be viewed here. A full list of winners can be seen here.

The “Renovation/Tenant Improvement” award ultimately was awarded to Bakersfield Pediatrics and Valley Children’s Hospital, and you can view the category presentation here.

In a letter to Chain | Cohn | Stiles, president and CEO of the Greater Chamber of Commerce Nicholas Ortiz thanked the law firm for “playing such an active role in our city’s advancement and making such a positive difference in our community.”

“Your nomination pays tribute to the time, effort and commitment that you so generously gave to enhance and improve our community’s quality of life,” Ortiz wrote.

Solving a mystery of the history outside of the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building

November 11, 2015 | 6:15 am

Each week, The Bakersfield Californian features answers to questions posed by readers of the publication in a column called “Ask the Californian.” Recently, Chain | Cohn | Stiles asked a question in the column and requested help from readers of The Bakersfield Californian to help solve a mystery.

“There is a cement post sticking up outside of the front of the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building — on the southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue — and I’m wondering if anyone knows what it was used for? A small metal strip is attached to it, and the year 1950 is inscribed near the top.”

The publication asked anyone with answers to email at or call The Bakersfield Californian. This week, the publication printed the answer.

“We got a big response: more than a dozen emails and phone calls,” The Californian said. “We received several different answers, leading us to believe maybe the post has had more than one use.”


First, a little history. The Bakersfield Californian earlier this year also highlighted the law firm’s move to its new home — on the southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue — and the renovation of the building. Read all about it here. As the article points out:

“Most recently a Goodwill store, the structure has been home to a succession of banks for most of its long life … Some sources indicate the building was erected in 1938; others seem to hint that portions of the structure might date to 1889.”

Kern Valley Bank opened at the corner in 1874. In 1889, Kern Valley Bank held a grand opening for a new two-story brick building, but was gutted the very next day in the great Bakersfield fire that destroyed most of the town. It was rebuilt shortly after.

In 1938, Anglo-California Bank opened at the intersection. That business remained until 1954 when Anglo California National Bank remodeled the branch. In the years that followed, other financial institutions took over including Crocker National Bank, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual. Goodwill Industries took over in 2002, and vacated in 2012. The Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles purchased the building in 2014 and began remodeling, and moved in 2015 after spending 30 years in the Bank of America building.

Several historic features remain in the building:

  • The 18th Street entrance features an elevator lined with white marble and a staircase of beautiful green terrazzo flooring, probably a holdover from the 1954 remodel.
  • The arched roof from the original 1930s Anglo-California National Bank is still present.
  • In the basement is an incinerator from the Kerner Incinerator Co. of San Francisco, dated 1914, that still holds old bank transactions.
  • Three bank vaults can be found in the building, two of which have ventilators inside.

But what about the cement post outside of the building with “1950” inscribed on it?


Another historical feature that remains, likely a part of the building, is the cement post just outside the front doors.

Readers of The Bakersfield Californian had possible answers of what it once was used for. Most of them believed the post was used to hold a United States Postal Service box. But some people believed the post was used to tie up horses.

“The iron rings buried in the concrete curbs were used to tie horses up,” reader Michael McAlister wrote. “I believe the short concrete posts were used to tie up a team of horses that pulled a surrey or wagon.”

Another reader, a local architectural design draftsman, thought the post was a surveyors boundary monument “used to locate a point on a lot, tract or parcel of real property also called a surveyors bench mark.”

Said The Californian: “We shouldn’t discount it. Here’s a description of one type of surveyors monument on the website ‘Stone obelisks are frequently used as survey monuments. Once set in place, they are inscribed with the date of placement as well as the latitude and longitude. If made of a heavy stone such as granite and left undisturbed, this type of survey monument will last for centuries.’ Sure enough, the post at Chester and 18th has ‘1950’ inscribed on it. Was it a surveyors monument before a mailbox was affixed to it? Could be. We didn’t see a latitude and longitude inscribed. Whatever the answer, this was a fun question and thanks to everyone who weighed in.”

You can read all of the responses in Ask the Californian online here, or read the PDF newspaper copy here.



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.




Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce

November 18, 2014 | 9:08 am

In 1945, the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles first became a member of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.

After a short two-year break from membership, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be a partner once again with one of the top chambers of commerce in the nation after joining this year.

“Like the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, our law firm has been connected closely with the Bakersfield community since we were founded by Morris Chain in 1934,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner of CCS. “We’re proud to partner once again with longtime local group that, like us, is dedicated to making Bakersfield a better place.”

The 1,300-member Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce is ranked in the top 10 of California chambers and in the top 100 chambers nationwide, according to the chamber. The nonprofit chamber works together with businesses to build a strong local economy, provides business-education opportunities, promotes community and business interests with government, and provides dynamic programs.

“The Chamber’s strength lies in its membership,” the chamber states on its website. “Members have varied interests and concerns, and underlying all is the common desire to improve the local business environment and enhance the socio-economic and cultural well-being of our community.”

The renewed partnership comes at a time when the Chain | Cohn | Stiles is celebrating its 80-year anniversary. Eight years ago, Morris Chain set up his law practice in the Haberfelde Building in the heart of downtown Bakersfield. Since then, the law firm has provided legal assistance in the areas of personal injuries, car accidents, wrongful death and workers’ compensation*, among many other practices.

The CCS-GBCC partnership also comes at a time when the law firm is planning a move in 2015 to another building in the heart of historic downtown Bakersfield. Soon, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will occupy a 30,000-square foot building on the southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue, a site that has been occupied by local businesses since the late 1800s.

To view our listing on the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s directory, click here. For questions on the law firm and injury-related cases, call 661-323-4000 or visit the website


*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

CCS plans move into historical downtown Bakersfield building

October 13, 2014 | 10:47 am

Last week, Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles completed the purchase of its next home — a two-story building in the heart of downtown Bakersfield.

As has been highlighted in local media reports this past week, the law firm is proud to be part of a continued revitalization of historical downtown Bakersfield.

This weekend, The Bakersfield Californian featured an article on the front page of Sunday’s newspaper discussing the “continuing evolution of Bakersfield’s commercial and historical core,” in particular the investment pouring into the intersection of Chester Avenue and 18th Street.

The four buildings on the intersection are in the process of being occupied, or increasing efforts to have them occupied in the near future, The Californian reported.

“Taken together, these and other changes at the intersection could signal a return to basics for an area trying to reinvent itself to bring more people back to downtown,” according to The Californian.

CCS attorney and partner Matt Clark told The Californian he optimistic and the future of the area, and is part of the reason the firm purchased the 33,000-square-foot building and a small parking lot to the west of the building. The firm will also install parking in the alleyway south of the building for clients, many of whom have been disabled by some kind of injury. The article reads:

Matt Clark, a partner at the firm that has existed downtown for its entire 80-year history, said leaving the area was never a serious option, considering its central location and proximity to courthouses.

But another factor in the decision to vacate the nearby Bank of America building was a perception that downtown is “on a real upswing,” Clark said.

“We like to think that, in some small part, we’re going to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Bakersfield,” he said.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been part of downtown Bakersfield for its entire 80-year history. The southwest corner of the intersection where CCS’ new home will next sit has been home to other historical buildings. The Kern Valley Bank was established in 1874 on the grounds as the first bank incorporated in Kern County. Goodwill Industries pulled out of the building three years ago. 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles will occupy the ground floor and lease out the upper level after it completes improvements to the building’s interior and exterior. For CCS clients, the new location will include better parking and more office space, while still remaining easily accessible in the heart of downtown Bakersfield.

Stay tuned for more information on CCS’ planned move into the building at 1731 Chester Avenue.