I started Duane Cook and Associates in the Spring of 2012 (after many years of solo practice), motivated by a surge in client needs, an awareness of the limits of solo practice, a desire for new challenges and new opportunities, and a curiosity about working in beautiful historic downtown Georgetown. Although my practice is not centered in Georgetown, I live in Scott County and (apart from necessary court appearances) technology enables us to serve our regional clients from anywhere.
Why Cook & Watkins?
Cook & Watkins, PLC, was formed in 2016 with the merger of Duane Cook and Associates, PLC, and the estate planning practices of Steve and Ben Watkins. In a certain sense, however, this firm was more than 40 years in the making.
Steve and I grew up in the same town, worked in the same amusement park together while we were in high school and college, went to law school together (at the University of Virginia), played softball on the same law school team, and both moved to Kentucky to practice law —Steve attended Centre College and was very enthusiastic about the state and its friendly people.
While prior to the formation of Cook & Watkins we never officially practiced together, I turned to Steve as necessary to get sophisticated estate planning work done for my business clients and he regularly sought my advice about complex business matters. I was a partner with Brown, Todd & Heyburn (now Frost Brown Todd LLC) in Lexington for many years. Steve was a partner with Ogden, Robertson and Marshall (now Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC) and with Mosley, Sauer, Townes & Watkins, PSC, in Louisville.
Throughout the course of his long estate planning career, Steve has represented many clients with multimillion dollar estates and has developed a reputation as “the estate planner’s estate planner” (helping trust officers and other lawyers with their estate and probate matters). Steve was an early proponent of using computers to make the practice of law more efficient (during law school, he wrote a computer program for the UVa mainframe to calculate a client’s federal estate tax) and, so far as I know, was one of the first lawyers to use what now seem primitive computer programs to automate the completion of estate planning documents. In this sense (and many others) my good friend, Steve Watkins, has had a positive influence on my practice from its very beginning.
Amazingly enough in hindsight, as teenagers, Duane and I actually managed an amusement park (Duane on the day shift and I on the night shift) — insurance companies would never allow that in this day and age. Even though we sometimes have different ideas and approaches, we have shared a commitment to find the best solutions through logic, diligence, empathy and fairness. Our discussions of work and life in general have been spirited, respectful and fascinating — even when we disagree.
Duane’s perspectives and logical arguments taught me to keep an open mind and to incorporate ideas my intellectual prejudices otherwise would have dismissed. From those earliest days of our friendship, I have known Duane to be smart, focused, aggressive and honest. It was probably inevitable that we would eventually combine our practices. The combination makes sense personally and professionally. Our practices complement each other – Duane’s business clients need estate planning and many of my estate planning clients (or their children) are still in business and need Duane’s business expertise.