Michael Marks Cohen ’65 LL.B. was an expert in admiralty and maritime law, as well as a longtime lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School. He passed away on December 1, 2012, at the age of 75.
Cohen graduated from Columbia College in 1959. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy for three years before receiving his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1965. During his time at the Law School, Cohen worked as managing editor of the Columbia Law Review.
From 1965 to 1967, Cohen served as a law clerk for Stanley H. Fuld ’26 LL.B., chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals. In 1967, he turned his interests toward admiralty and maritime law as a trial attorney for the admiralty and shipping section of the U.S. Department of Justice. After three years, Cohen transitioned into private practice at Burlingham, Underwood & Lord in New York City. There, he proceeded to expand his focus on admiralty litigation, maritime arbitration, and marine insurance matters. (Cohen continued working at Burlingham, Underwood & Lord until 2002.)
In 1975, Cohen began teaching as a lecturer at Columbia Law School. He taught admiralty law biennially for the next 30 years. Cohen also served as editor of the Index and Digest of Award Service of the Society of Maritime Arbitrators, as the special features editor of American Maritime Cases, and as editor of several volumes of Benedict on Admiralty, widely considered the most comprehensive American text on admiralty law. He served as a titular member of the Comité Maritime International and was named the 2013 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Leonard J. Theberge Award for his distinguished, longstanding contributions to the development of private international law.
Cohen is survived by his wife, Bette; his son, Daniel; his daughter-in-law, Jill; and his grandson, Caleb.