Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law 1944-64
Artist: George S. Mandus (1942-2006)
The unveiling of a portrait of Professor Emeritus Sigmund Cohn by his great-granddaughter Lisa Hopkins during Law Day activities, April 23, was a special event in the history of the Law School. But, perhaps, it was yet another highlight in the life of the 90-year-old retired law school faculty member.
The circuitous route Professor Cohn has traveled in his academic life since his birth in Breslau, Germany, in 1898, has been fortuitous for The University of Georgia. After Cohn earned his first law degree at the University of Brealau in 1921, the young attorney worked in the Department of Justice in Berlin.
Nine years later, the 32-year-old was appointed to a post in the German judicial system similar to a U.S. Superior Court judgeship. The rise of Hitler and national socialism, however, soon forced his removal from the judgeship.
In 1933, Cohn, his wife Susanne and their two young daughters emigrated to Genoa, Italy. There, he enrolled in the University of Genoa and soon earned a Juris Doctor degree in Italian law. When Mussolini rose to power, Cohn and his family were forced to move again, this time to the United States.
Through Harold Hirsch, Dr. Cohn secured a teaching position at The University of Georgia. Between 1939 and 1944 Cohn taught German, Italian, and Spanish here, as well as a course on comparative law.
He became a full-time member of the law faculty in 1944. In his twenty years of teaching, he taught contracts, conflicts of law, sales, negotiable instruments, bankruptcy, corporations, and partnerships. He initiated the teaching of international law and laid the groundwork for the compilation of an international law collection in the law library.
The year 1988 marks Dr. Cohn's 90th year. Now a widower, he lives alone at a retirement home in Athens.
At its Fall 1987 meeting, the Law School Alumni Association adopted the commissioning of a portrait of Dr. Cohn as its special project for the year. The portrait was executed by artist George Mandus, who painted the portraits of House Speaker Tom Murphy and Chief Justice Bob Jordan.
23 Georgia Advocate 14 (Spring 1988)