After posting on Twitter that he was offering free legal help to anyone trying to deal with the impact of coronavirus on their life or business, Attorney Akiva Cohen was shocked by the flood of responses he received.
“The response has been, you know, a little overwhelming!” Cohen told NY1.
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But as he helps others, Cohen tells me coronavirus and the toll it can have on one’s family hits close to him.
He says his wife, a nurse on the front lines of the pandemic, tested positive for coronavirus but is now doing well. And while Cohen was not tested for the virus, he says he now feels nearly 100 percent healthier after battling mild symptoms himself.
“For me, it was gastrointestinal stuff, really bad cough, a heaviness in the chest, fever, body aches, basically all the classic symptoms. It gets worse at night. It’s not fun. But I had a really mild case,” said Cohen.
Cohen tells me offering his legal expertise pro bono is his way of providing comfort to those in need.
“I just kept getting comment after comment after comment of people either saying, ‘I’m in this situation, too, can you help,’ or, ‘Wow, that’s really great.” But I really appreciate the, ‘I’m in this situation, too, can you help?’ because that gives me the chance to do what I wanted to do, which is help people out.”
Since 2015, Cohen has been working for a law firm based in midtown with an expertise in commercial litigation. He says if anyone reaches out with concerns beyond his area of expertise, he can draw from a network of fellow attorneys who have been willing to offer their expertise free of charge.
Cohen tells me he agreed to this interview in the hopes it would encourage others attorneys to donate their services.
And he says he is truly inspired by a movement started by Duke University Law student Alyssa Leader, whose Twitter campaign has seen more than 2,500 law students sign up to provide free support to any attorney working on cases related to COVID-19.
“She is just an inspiring person on a lot of levels and I’m really proud to know her,” Cohen said.