A fierce and determined advocate who fights for as long as it takes in the courtroom or before government agencies, Jack Cohoon focuses his legal practice on employment law, civil rights, appeals, and administrative law.
He’s a highly experienced litigator who has successfully challenged agencies and policies to move law forward. Jack has won in trial and appellate courts as well as before state and federal government agencies.
The common thread running through his cases: A drive to defend those whom the legal system has wronged.
Jack battles tirelessly to remove barriers for clients, working to eliminate roadblocks that prevent them from obtaining jobs and moving toward better futures. This includes seeking pardons, criminal record expungement, working to correct errors in criminal records, defending occupational licenses, and reinstating driver’s licenses. He has successfully sued under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to correct errors on a background report that denied a client a job opportunity.
He represents people facing a range of employment law issues that put their livelihoods at risk, including unpaid wages, unemployment benefits denial, workplace discrimination, and wrongful termination.
He’s succeeded in changing policies and procedures. He stopped the state of South Carolina from listing civil non-payment of child support on criminal records, and he challenged a Department of Motor Vehicles policy that denied commercial driver’s licenses to legal immigrants. He brought a federal civil rights challenge to South Carolina’s policy of charging people with certain criminal convictions $50 for issuance of an ID. The card was free to everyone else. The state Legislature subsequently eliminated the fee.
Jack worked in the Columbia office of South Carolina Legal Services for nearly 14 years before joining Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, rising to the position of senior litigation attorney and head of the Employment Unit. He led the firm’s efforts to advocate for low-income clients with employment law issues.
He developed legal clinic models now used throughout the state, including workshops on criminal records and driver’s licenses. Jack also has taught numerous continuing legal education programs on topics such as representing clients in administrative law proceedings, unemployment benefits, and criminal records.
- U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, 2007
- South Carolina, 2006
- University of South Carolina School of Law, Juris Doctor
- President, USC Chapter of Just Democracy, an organization of law students dedicated to protecting voting rights
- Research Editor, South Eastern Environmental Law Journal
- University of Georgia, Bachelor of Arts with Honors, History and Political Science
- South Carolina Bar
- Employment and Labor Law Section
- Richland County Bar Association
- Lexington County Bar Association
- Legal Eagles of the Indian Waters Council, Boy Scouts of America
- AV Preeminent® Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, 2021 to present
- Martindale-Hubbell Silver Client Champion Award, 2021 to present
- Best Lawyers in America, 2022, in the practice area of Litigation – Labor and Employment Law
- “Legal Elite of the Midlands”, 2020 to present by Columbia Business Monthly in Labor and Employment Law
- Civic Star Award, Richland County Bar Association, 2021
- Cubmaster of the Year, Chinquapin District of the Indian Waters Council, Boy Scouts of America, 2018
- Ellen Hines Smith Legal Services Attorney of the Year, awarded by the South Carolina Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission and the South Carolina Bar Foundation, 2012
- South Carolina Legal Services Young Attorney of the Year, 2009
- Obtained a declaratory judgment finding that the Commission of the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs had violated the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act by holding unlawful secret meetings and that the Commission’s vote to terminate the State Director was therefore void.
- Recovered a federal retiree’s disability retirement benefits in an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
- Led effort to obtain the first-ever vacatur and expungement of a prostitution conviction pursuant to the state’s new Human Trafficking law.
- Reaching a significant settlement in a Title VII case for a client from Venezuela who was discriminated against due to national origin.
- Brought a federal civil rights challenge to a law that required people with certain criminal convictions to pay $50 for reissuance of an ID that was free to everyone else. The state Legislature subsequently removed the fee.
- Obtained a record correction and significant financial settlement in a Fair Credit Reporting Act suit for a client who had been denied a job opportunity due to an erroneous background report.
- Brought a successful administrative challenge to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s practice of listing civil contempt for non-payment of child support on criminal records.
- Obtained reversal and remand in the Court of Appeals of an Administrative Law Court decision in an unemployment benefits case that contained improper findings of fact regarding the timeliness of a worker’s pro se appeal.
- Successfully defended a favorable Administrative Law Court decision before the South Carolina Court of Appeals, preserving a client’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.
- Challenged a discriminatory South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles policy that denied commercial driver’s licenses to legal immigrants, obtaining a license for a client.
- Obtained Court of Appeals affirmance of the family court’s incorporation of a partial settlement agreement, apportionment of a worker’s compensation award, and the valuation of marital property.
- “Chapter 6. Unemployment Compensation,” (authored with James E. Klein). Labor and Employment Law for South Carolina Lawyers, Fifth Edition, 2019
- “S.C. Freedom of Information Act for Employment Attorneys,” South Carolina Bar Convention, January 21, 2022, Greenville, SC.
- “Ch-ch-changes -The New Workplace – A look at employment issues in the wake of COVID-19, BLM, and 2020 election,” South Carolina Bar Convention Employment and Labor Law Section Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Jan. 22, 2021
- Navigating Employment and HR Issues for Schools During this ‘New Normal,’ ” Panel Discussion, S.C. Bar Education Law Committee CLE, November 17, 2020, webinar.
- “Collateral Consequences of Criminal Records,” S.C. Commission on Prosecution Coordination, Nov. 6, 2020, webinar
- “Jobless Benefits and COVID-19: An Update,” 36th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor & Employment Law CLE, Oct. 30, 2020, webinar
- “Jobless Benefits in the Era of COVID-19,” Webinar in partnership with S.C. Appleseed and S.C. Legal Services, July 2, 2020, Columbia, SC.
- “Paid leave and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” Webinar for Clarke and Company Benefits, LLC, April 1, 2020, Columbia, SC.
- “Collateral Consequences of Criminal Records,” 29th Annual Criminal Practice in South Carolina CLE, S.C. Commission on Prosecution Coordination, Feb. 28, 2020, Columbia, SC.
- “Disaster Unemployment Assistance,” Disaster Legal Services Committee CLE, ABA Young Lawyers Division, May 30, 2019, Charleston, SC and May 31, 2019, Conway, SC.
- “Pardon Me!” South Carolina Legal Services Statewide Meeting and CLE, Oct. 18, 2018, Myrtle Beach, SC.
- “Serving Clients with Criminal Records,” S.C. Life with Brain Injury Conference, July 27, 2018, Columbia, SC.
- “Advocating for Clients in Administrative Proceedings,” S.C. Bar’s It’s All a Game Evidence CLE. Feb. 16, 2018, Columbia, SC.
- “Representing Clients in FEMA Appeals,” American Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Disaster Legal Services Committee CLE, Apr. 20, 2017, Florence, SC.
- “Collateral Consequences—A New Hope,” S.C. Appleseed Collateral Consequences CLE, Dec. 4, 2015, Columbia, SC.
- “An Unused Safety Net—Unemployment Benefits for Domestic Violence Survivors,” S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Annual Conference, March 6, 2015, Florence, SC.
- “Serving Clients with Criminal Records,” Richland County Bar Public Service Comm. CLE, Nov. 19, 2014, Columbia, SC.
- “Unemployment Benefits: Navigating the System,” S.C. Assoc. for Justice Conference and CLE, Aug. 8, 2014, Hilton Head, SC.
- “Making an Impact through Administrative Appeals,” National Legal Aid and Defender Association Litigation Leaders Conference, July 20, 2012, Denver, CO.