District of Columbia (1973)
Tufts University B.S. (1966)
University of Virginia L.L.B. (1969)
Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers (1996-present)
"San Diego Lawyer of the Year," Professional Malpractice Law, Best Lawyers (2012)
"Top Ten Lawyers in San Diego," Super Lawyers (2011, 2007)
"Transcript Ten" Top Attorneys, San Diego Daily Transcript (2009)
"Top Fifty Lawyers in San Diego," Super Lawyers (2007-present)
"Top Ten Corporate Litigation Attorney in San Diego," San Diego Daily Transcript (2006)
"Trial Lawyer of the Year," San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association (2005)
Focus of Practice
Jerry Coughlan's practice involves trying and litigating civil and white collar criminal cases. He has tried over 100 cases involving banking, trusts, securities, legal malpractice, medical malpractice, Bivens and Federal Torts Claims Actions, accounting malpractice, product liability, aviation, admiralty, negligence, defamation, partnership disputes, title insurance, government contracting and a wide range of criminal cases particularly involving public corruption and corporate fraud. He has briefed and argued approximately 50 cases on appeal.
Both as a federal prosecutor and as a private attorney, Mr. Coughlan has been involved in investigations, litigation and trials concerning public corruption, income tax violations, mail fraud, government procurement fraud, environmental law, securities law violations, banking law, money laundering, consumer fraud, and real estate fraud. He has also participated in numerous in-house investigations conducted by corporations and public agencies involving allegations of misconduct.
Mr. Coughlan began his career as a law clerk for the Honorable Alexander Harvey, II, United States District Court for the District of Maryland. He was associated with two national law firms: Piper & Marbury in Baltimore, Maryland (now DLA Piper), and Lillick McHose & Charles in San Diego, California. Mr. Coughlan practiced for nearly eleven years in the United States Attorney's offices for the District of Columbia, the Southern District of California and the United States Department of Justice, during which years he handled both civil and criminal cases. He was a founding member of Coughlan, Semmer, Fitch & Pott in 2011, and its predecessor Coughlan & Semmer in 1986.
Mr. Coughlan has been a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1996. Election to the American College is the highest honor a trial lawyer can receive. The membership includes plaintiffs’ and defendants’ civil lawyers as well as prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers. Fellowship is by invitation only, after a lengthy and detailed investigation into a nominee’s trial abilities and ethical behavior. Election requires a finding that the candidate possesses exceptional courtroom skills, has a reputation for the highest ethics, professionalism and collegiality through at least 15 years active trial practice, and generally is limited to the top 1% of attorneys.
For 2012, Super Lawyers named him “San Diego Lawyer of the Year” in Professional Malpractice Law.
He is a Master in the Louis Welsh Chapter of the American Inns of Court and serves on its Executive Committee.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. and Appellate Defenders, Inc., and served as President of the Board from 2001-2003.
He serves on the San Diego Padres Board of Directors.
In 2006 the San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association awarded him its Trial Lawyer of the Year award for his work in 2005 defending a San Diego City Councilman charged in federal court.
He has twice been named by Super Lawyers as one of the Top Ten Lawyers in San Diego (2007 and 2010). Super Lawyers has named him to the Top 50 Lawyers in San Diego every year of its publication.
In 2011, the California Board of Legal Specialization certified him as a specialist in Legal Malpractice Law.
The San Diego Daily Transcript named him one of the Top Ten Corporate Litigation Attorneys in San Diego (2006).
Mr. Coughlan has been listed in Best Lawyers for many years.
As an Assistant U.S. Attorney he received the Justice Department “Directors Award” in 1982.
San Diego Magazine has ranked him among the best criminal defense lawyers in San Diego repeatedly over the last 15 years.
Mr. Coughlan was the founding Director of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Pacific Regional Trial Advocacy program. He originated and directed NITA’s deposition training and expert witness programs in San Diego. He directed all of NITA's programs in San Diego from 1982 to 1990. He has taught in dozens of NITA programs.
He has been a member of the San Diego County Bar Legal Ethics Committee for many years.
He has lectured in numerous continuing education programs for practicing lawyers for many years.
He served for three years as an attorney representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, serving as its chair in his final year.
Mr. Coughlan taught both trial practice and criminal procedure at California Western School of Law as a member of the adjunct Faculty from 1980 to 1987.
He has been a member of several state and local bar association committees.
He is the past chair of the CEB Joint Advisory Committee, and a member of the CEB Governing Board. He served on the State Bar Litigation Section Committee For Legal Education and Federal Courts Committee.