Cook’s introduction to mediation came in 1992. At the time the process was still relatively unheard of in Louisiana. Cook represented a driver and his insurance company following a disastrous 36-car accident on Interstate 10 near Sulphur. The case was so massive that they needed to rent a hotel ballroom just to fit all of the relevant players during depositions.
Someone suggested mediation. A mediator was brought in and after two days, the parties reached a settlement. Cook was flabbergasted that such a complex case could be amicably resolved so quickly.
After that case, Cook transitioned into mediation. While it was once uncommon, mediation is now popular and the field is competitive. So, Cook does mediation work and also serves as an attorney chairman on medical review panels. If a doctor is sued for malpractice in Louisiana, the claim must be brought before a panel of doctors who decide whether or not it can go forward. Cook does not vote on these cases. His job is more like that of a judge in a jury trial. He organizes evidence, sets up deadlines, rules on conflicts of interest and reminds the doctors of their legal obligations.
The 66-year-old Cook enjoys the mediation and chairman work because he feels it suits his nature better than litigation. He has always been a person who sees both sides of an issue, and that tendency serves him well in his current positions.
“I feel like what I’m doing for a living is entirely consistent with my personality,” Cook said.
The work is rewarding for Cook because people are happy at the end of mediations. Cook has handled a wide variety of mediations, including personal injury, age/race discrimination and sexual harassment. Eighty five -to nintey percent of them are settled in one day. When it’s over, the parties no longer have a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over their heads. They are able to move on with their lives.
When Cook is not practicing the law, he spends time with his wife, Nanette Cook, a member of the Lafayette City-Parish Council, and their five children (ages ranging from 24-34).
“The best thing in my life is my wife and my children,” Cook said. “I’ve had a pretty decent life.”