Profiles: Patrick Coughlin
Partner, Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman Robbins LLP
GGU Law Alumnus Raises the Bar
Patrick Coughlin has taken a circuitous and adventurous route to become the Chief Trial Counsel for Coughlin, Stoia, Rudman and Robbins LLP, one of the country's most prominent law firms specializing in class actions. He has served as lead counsel in securities cases like the famous Enron matter, where he has recovered $7.2 billion for his clients, and as plaintiffs' counsel in the Joe Camel cigarette ad case, where he helped secure a $12.5 billion judgment for the cities and counties of California.
It would be easy to say that Patrick wanted to be a lawyer from the beginning, but that would not be the case. He was a good student who originally wanted to be either a veterinarian or a medical doctor. He also loved sports. In fact, out of high school he had received football scholarship offers from both Arizona State and the University of Arizona, yet opted for Santa Clara University in the Bay Area. At Santa Clara, he was a pre-med student who also played cornerback on the school's football team, but had to give up athletics due to a string of concussions. After graduation, Patrick coached and attended university in Pueblo, Mexico with hopes of gaining more education before applying to med schools. However, after working in a hospital for a year, Coughlin decided that a career in medicine was not in the cards for him, and he opted to apply to law school.
Coughlin applied to his alma mater, Santa Clara University, as well as Golden Gate Law School. Both applications were late in the process, and Santa Clara informed him that their process was closed, while Golden Gate University admitted him almost immediately. As Patrick recalls "It turned out great for me in so many ways because of the atmosphere at Golden Gate.
Patrick was always a self starter. During his second year of law school he took it upon himself to seek employment with the San Francisco US Attorneys office. He recalls, "My roommate was going to interview in the civil side (of the US Attorney's Office), so I walked over there with him. They gave me an interview on the criminal side, and I started working there. That led to trying misdemeanor cases at the end of my second year of law school and into my third year. It was unusual for a student to have those kinds of experiences, but at the time Golden Gate encouraged practical experience, including getting practical experience while you were in law school. So I did that."
Coughlin's most lasting impression of GGU Law was there was always somebody there that wanted to help me do something or understand something, or get to the next level of something. There was never any criticism without guidance. And if there was a need to reach outlets, my advisor looked it over.
Although he was a full-time day student, Patrick often took night classes. In addition to supporting himself and going to school full-time with a challenging schedule, he also managed to become Notes and Comments Editor of the Law Review. Although his work schedule made his life difficult, he worked hard enough in school to finish the Department of Justice Honors Program in the appellate section.
Coughlin attributes his success as an attorney to both motivation and good fortune. He feels lucky to have received the kind of education that his father did not have the opportunity to secure. Further, he feels fortunate to have been helped along the way by many people, including his professors at Golden Gate Law. "I have never taken my opportunities for granted, and I try to make the most of them," he says.