The ability to “work across the aisle” is a must for this product liability and toxic tort attorney.
product liability and toxic tort cases
Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver
21 years in practice
BA Tulane University; JD Tulane University Law School
The intersection of policy, legislation and the law has long fascinated Celeste Coco-Ewing, and her experiences in each have contributed to her success in the complex litigation that typifies her legal practice today.
Raised in Marksville, Louisiana — “the uppermost corner of Cajun country,” as she described it – Coco-Ewing moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University. After graduation, she spent five years in Washington, D.C., working on the legislative staff of Sen. John Breaux.
“He was part of a centrist movement that actually got legislation done,” recalled Coco-Ewing. “Having that experience of seeing people work across the aisle with respect has been something I’ve tried to carry into my practice.”
After returning to New Orleans, “entering the legal profession felt like the logical next step” for Coco-Ewing. She graduated from Tulane Law School, then clerked for Judge Dennis in the 5th Circuit.
Today, Coco-Ewing specializes in product liability and toxic tort cases for Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver law firm. However, one interesting stop along the way was serving as president and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research, a local research and policy nonprofit.
Coco-Ewing summed up her legal philosophy as “work hard, fight fair,” noting that when attorneys on both sides play by the rules, clients on both sides benefit. Less time spent fighting over trivial details means less expense for clients, and cases move more rapidly through the appeals process when they are grounded in facts and sound legal principles.
The complex nature of many of her cases helps keep Coco-Ewing fascinated by her work. For one, it requires collaboration across specialties and geographies, as she is often involved in multi-district litigation.
“I really enjoy bouncing ideas back and forth, building these collegial relationships with lawyers all across the nation,” she said.
It also challenges her personally.
“I like how many parts of yourself you have to bring to the table,” she added. “You have to be able to communicate well, tell stories, persuade and work well with others.”
These skills were a great asset during one of Coco-Ewing’s most challenging cases, a multi-district trial regarding a particular medical device. While cases had been filed all over the country, she worked on the first “bellwether case” that combined the discovery phases of all the litigation and set the initial precedents.
“There was a lot at stake for both sides,” explained Coco-Ewing. “It was a very high-intensity trial.”
Not surprisingly, she and her team prevailed.