Andrew J. Cohen was the unsung hero that the Morsch Award strives to recognize. Andy was an exceptional attorney in every respect who provided stellar service to thousands of vulnerable clients. After graduating from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., Andy attended New York University Law School. He took an immediate interest in public interest law, experimenting with the civil and criminal side of it. He found that he did not like the idea of being a public defender and instead, opted for civil public interest law. When he graduated in 1985, he joined the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, and he served his entire 19 year legal career there working to improve access to justice. Working with the underprivileged, Andy improved the lives of many clients who would have suffered more without him and his work.
Andy left a legacy of quality, caring legal work for Chicago’s poor residents, which is continued by his colleagues years after his untimely death in 2004. He focused most of his attention on Social Security and other related benefit issues. He became one of the supervisors of the benefits area at LAF and started the public benefits hot line for LAF. It was aimed at giving low-income and disabled individuals a place to call when they had questions about benefits or felt they were wrongfully denied benefits. He also helped develop the nationally acclaimed project which now is known as Illinois Legal Aid Online. It is quite clear that Andy was a leader within LAF as well, as evidenced by the Equal Justice Award his colleagues bestowed upon him. Andy did all of this with a quiet passion, a great sense of humor and exemplary wisdom, but in all of this he somehow managed to avoid the spotlight.