SMC History Maker: Joseph W. Cotchett

Joseph W. Cotchett is considered by plaintiffs and defense attorneys alike to be one of the foremost trial lawyers in the country. The San Mateo County Historical Association honored Joe as the 2021 San Mateo County History Maker not only for his accomplishments in the field of law, but for giving back to the community. This 15-minute historical documentary produced by Kingston Media covers Joe's early life, education, military service, incredible legal career, and his philanthropic efforts. San Mateo County is blessed to have Joe as a benefactor in our community.

Soon after starting his law firm, Joe found his niche in financial fraud. By the 1980s, he was winning massive judgments for investors suffering from “white collar fraud.” For example a jury found on the side of those he represented for more than $200 million from the Technical Equities Corporation of San Jose. He also represented the National Football League, the Oakland Raiders, and several players from Major League Baseball.

In the 90s Joe would continue to garner national attention. He served as the defense counsel for E&J Winery, defended the Consumers Union against Isuzu Motors in a product disparagement case, and spearheaded the fight against Lincoln Savings and Loan leading to the downfall of Charles Keating. At the start of the New Century, Joe and his firm represented ten California cities and counties to sue manufactures of lead paint to hold them responsible for promoting this toxic chemical element and its harm on the development of young children. This 20-year battle lead to the removal of lead paint from family homes and a verdict of over 1-billion dollars.