Services Today for Applicants' Attorney Ken Rowen

Published on June 5, 2007 by WorkCompCentral, authored by Rob McCarthy

Los Angeles applicants' attorney Ken Rowen, who was known for his fierce negotiating skills, expertise on chronic pain syndrome and generosity to charities died over the weekend and will be buried today. 

Rowen, 65, died after a short illness, according to his law partner Alan Gurvey. Funeral services are at 10 a.m. at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles. 

Gurvey considered Rowen his mentor and a legendary attorney who fought hard for the injured workers he represented. 

"He is well known for his passion, his zealousness and his brilliance as a lawyer," Gurvey said. "Everyone has a story about Ken Rowen. Anyone who had contact with him will have a story about him because of his unique personality."

Gurvey said he will assume the helm of the Law Firm of Kenneth H. Rowen, as Rowen planned before his death. 

"The reason that I consider him a legend is because of the way he practiced law," Gurvey said. "The word bulldog is used many times. There's hardly anyone in the state who can negotiate and argue a case the way he can," Gurvey said. 

When it came to a knowledge of the chronic pain condition known as fibromyalgia, Rowen's knowledge was unmatched, according to Gurvey. 

"He could teach doctors in medical depositions conditions they weren't aware of," he said. 

Rowen also taught the attorneys working in his firm by example to be thorough and about the importance of forming relationships, Gurvey said. Rowen believed it important to combine intellect with humanity in the practice of workers' compensation law, his partner said. 

Gurvey joined Rowen's law firm in the early 1990s, and in the years they worked together Gurvey found his boss to be a very generous man. Rowen, in fact, reportedly once made a donation to a children's charity after hearing his opposing counsel mention it to another colleague. 

As the story goes, the defense attorney and Rowen were locked in a contentious dispute over a workers' compensation case. 

"He (the defense attorney) walked away and asked another attorney if he wanted to donate money to a children's charity. Ken went over and said, 'Put me down for $500," Gurvey said. 

"That's the way he was. While he fought for his clients and the injured worker, he saw the bigger picture and he was able to separate his tough demeanor from humanity," Gurvey said. 

Rowen built up the San Fernando Valley chapter of the California Applicants' Attorneys Association from roughly 20 members to nearly 150, where it remains today. Rowen served as co-chair of CAAA's convention committee, organizing its annual winter convention in Southern California. 

His convention committee co-chairman, Arthur Johnson, organized the summer convention in Northern California. Johnson said he often conferred with Rowen about programs and what CAAA members wanted during the events.

Johnson said that Rowen kept his illness private and continued to work for his clients and to further workers' compensation case law. 

"It's amazing that he did not mention to anybody he was sick or complained about his fate in life and carried on without a complaint," Johnson said. "But Ken was always just a workhorse and had a mind that went beyond where most of us let our minds go, beyond the everyday implementation of our cases, to where he would want to mold the direction of the law." 

At this year's CAAA winter convention in San Diego, Rowen moderated a panel in which he tried to prove objectively the existence of chronic pain for a qualified rating under the American Medical Association Guides, Johnson said. 

Bernard Sobelsohn, who was a boyhood friend and a fellow student at the Hebrew School in Los Angeles, said Rowen was a teacher throughout his career.

"Education was his passion ... on all levels: for the kids, for the attorneys, for people in his firm," Sobelsohn said. "He was one of my closest friends and one of the warmest kind of people I've ever known." 

Sobelsohn said in March, Hebrew High School named Rowen its Man of the Year, coinciding with the school's 50th anniversary. Even though Rowen was ill at the time, he gave an inspired speech that night, Sobelsohn said. 

Rowen earned his law degree from the University of Southern California and his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, according to the California Bar Web site. He was admitted to the bar in January 1966. He was certified as a workers' compensation specialist in 1973. 

Rowen began his law career as a defense attorney in March 1966. In addition, he specialized in subrogation and general civil work. He switched sides in October 1983, when he started his own law practice in Van Nuys.

The Rowen family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to: 

* The Kenneth H. Rowen Endowment Fund, Los Angeles Hebrew High School, 5900 Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 560, Van Nuys, CA 91411; 818-901-8893;

* In Memory of Kenneth H. Rowen, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1441 Eastlake Ave., Room 8302, Los Angeles, CA 90033; 323-865-0700;