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The Wisdom of Sandy Cohen

Sandy Cohen from The O.C.

2003 brought one of the defining teen dramas of our generation, The O.C., to our screens. And despite a plethora of flurried romances, bratty trust-fund Californian teens, house parties, fires, overdoses in Tijuana, shoplifting, deaths and cotillions, our knight in shining armour was always the enigmatic lawyer Sandy Cohen.

If you’re studying law today and your parents allowed you to stay up until 8:30pm on a school night to watch The O.C., you probably cite the fictional public defender as an inspiration for deciding to study law. Here are some lessons we can take from the files of Sandy Cohen…


Do What Makes You Happy

When Sandy leaves his beloved Public Defender’s Office in order to start work at a swanky private firm Partridge, Savage and Khan, he discovers that working in an environment far removed from his interests would create tension in his marriage (a sneaky, sexy lawyer-lady by the name of Rachel undermines his relationship with Kirsten OMG), and create conflicts of interest with his money grubbing father-in-law, Caleb. He begins to lose sight of why he decided law was the right path in the first place.

Stay true to yourself and happiness will ensue. Or in terms more specific to Sandy, if you see a good wave, catch it.

Use Your Skills For Good

Sandy refuses to let his wife Kirsten’s oft corrupt family background compromise his core values. Sandy sees someone in need and continuously reaches his hand out. Seeing a young man accused of being involved in stealing a car with his bad-boy brother Trey, Sandy takes the soft spoken, troubled youth, Ryan into his legal hands and also, his family home. And what happens next? Oh, just four seasons of absolute heart wrenching gold, that’s what!

Family Comes First

When faced with piles of paperwork and legal dilemmas, lawyers and law students can sometimes lose sight of the things most important to them. No matter how many hard yards you are required to do, there should always be time to reflect, and most importantly, time to spend with family.

When Sandy’s son Seth begins to have a suspiciously active social life, Sandy continues to lecture on drug use and tries to protect Seth where he can. When his arch-nemesis Jimmy Cooper runs into legal trouble, Sandy sucks it up and helps because of Jimmy’s close relationship with wife, Kirsten. When your family needs help you should never turn up your nose or feign ignorance… unless it’s, y’know, that weird uncle.

Follow Your Interests

Let your passion for the law take you wherever it pleases. Don’t seek opportunities, let them seek you and go with your gut feeling.

Sandy tends to know when a decision is wrong for him and usually retreats to areas of law that he feels strongly about in order to do a better job. Maybe you will rescue a young person in need; perhaps you’ll go back to your public defending roots. Maybe an incident from your past will inform your entire legal career, or perhaps you’ll go for a path that’s entirely different. Your passion for law could even inspire you to lecture in it. Whatever the case, we should always be asking WWSCD? Aka What Would Sandy Cohen Do? And the answer will usually be, “whatever the hell he wants.”

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