Double Panther Megan Demshki ‘12 (JD ‘15) recently helped attain a settlement worth more than $11 million in favor of a motorcyclist who was left a quadriplegic in the wake of a 2015 automobile accident that, according to a lawsuit, was caused by an unlicensed campaign worker employed by a state assemblyman from Riverside County.
Demshki, the managing attorney of Aitken Aitken Cohn’s Riverside, California office, led the case with the support of partner Chris Aitken and co-founding partner Wylie Aitken (who also serves on Chapman University’s Board of Trustees and the Fowler School of Law’s Board of Advisors). Demshki says the injured party was referred to her by a “friend of a friend” back in August 2016, when she barely had a year under her belt as a licensed attorney. She was humbled that they’d placed such “incredible trust in a brand-new attorney.”
Initially, Demshki says it seemed like just a simple auto injury case, and one in which her client—who was the “breadwinner” for his family, including six children—was initially found at fault. But through depositions and extensive discovery, Demshki and her team found that not only was the campaign worker who struck her client canvassing for the state assembly candidate, but also collecting data for the California Republican Party, which the Aitken team said was also accountable for their client’s injuries and the actions of the driver.
“This case is such a great example of how creativity in the law can be rewarded and can be ultimately advantageous,” Demshki said. “I think that we took a no-rock-unturned approach with this case, given the magnitude of the client’s injuries. While it doesn’t always work out this way, this was such an invigorating case for me and such a good reminder that being aggressive in discovery can be truly life-altering for your clients.”
Demshki has been with Aitken Aitken Cohn since 2013, when she started working there as a summer law clerk following her 1L year—an opportunity she became aware of through her relationship with Wylie Aitken, who she first met as an undergraduate at Chapman University while serving as the 2011-2012 Student Government Association president.
“I served as the student trustee on the Board of Trustees,” said Demshki. “[Wylie] helped encourage me to stay at Chapman for law school. I was trying to decide, and I sat down at a Chapman dinner with him, and he counseled me to stay at Chapman. Then I ran into him about a year later while applying for different summer jobs after 1L, and he asked me to come interview with the firm. And I’ve stayed ever since.”
During her time as a student at the Fowler School of Law, Demshki also volunteered at the Alona Cortese Elder Law Clinic, which provides legal assistance to low-income seniors. She says the clinic provided “an incredible opportunity” that she would “highly recommend” to any law student, even if they’re already doing an internship or externship—or working as a law clerk like she was.
“We practiced elder abuse work at Aitken Aitken Cohn, but what was different about the Elder Law Clinic was the opportunity to go and represent your client in court,” Demshki said. “To have a few hearings under your belt before truly practicing law was invaluable. It’s a great feeling to represent Orange County’s most vulnerable while also getting a professional benefit.”
Since being promoted to an associate at Aitken Aitken Cohn after passing the bar in 2015, Demshki has not only served a variety of clients but has also been recognized for her work numerous times, winning the Consumer Attorneys of the Inland Empire President’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2019 and being selected as a Super Lawyers’ Southern California Rising Star every year since 2018.
“I feel like I have the opportunity to represent some of the most vulnerable people after catastrophic instances,” said Demshki of her work at Aitken Aitken Cohn. “We represent these people on a contingency fee basis, which allows incredible access to justice because they are able to hire our firm with no risk to them. I see it as an ability to provide anybody who needs our help legal services who may not otherwise be able to afford an attorney.”
In addition to serving clients in the Inland Empire, Demshki is also a very active member of the local community. She was recently elected secretary of the Riverside County Bar Association, is past president of the Riverside County Bar Association Barristers, and serves both as president of the Consumer Attorneys of the Inland Empire and first vice president of the Pick Group of Young Professionals—among other community and philanthropic involvement.
“My heart and soul has always been in the Inland Empire,” Demshki said. “The sense of community is very different here. [You have an] ability to effectuate real change. To dive into this community as a young professional has been an incredible opportunity.”