Wylie A. Aitken, Law ’65
Santa Ana, Calif.
Wylie has achieved local and national recognition and multiple awards for his achievements as a trial lawyer with the Santa Ana, Calif., firm he founded, Aitken Aitken Cohn. Yet he insists he’s never worked a day in his life, and once told a reporter, “I just go to the office to have a great time.”
Wylie says helping people who suffer sudden and tragic reversals in their lives is his great privilege as a Jesuit-trained lawyer. The California native came to Marquette Law School as a St. Thomas More scholar. His education, he says, laid the foundation for his successful career as well as his contributions to the law profession and to his community.
In 1970 Wylie co-founded Aitken Aitken Cohn and has acted as trial counsel on high-profile cases, many involving landmark decisions, particularly in the areas of insurance, tort litigation and wrongful death/catastrophic injury and business fraud. At 35 he became the youngest-ever president of the California Trial Lawyers Association. He has since consistently appeared on industry-generated lists including Best Lawyers in America (30 consecutive years), Preeminent Lawyers of America, his local legal newspaper listings of California’s top lawyers, California’s Top 100 and Top 100 Most Influential.
Wylie says he “gets paid for something he would do for free,” and has put that into action with his firm’s significant pro bono work and community involvement. In September 2017 Aitken Aitken Cohn was recognized as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in Orange County by Civic Orange County and the Orange County Business Journal.
Wylie and his wife, Bette, have long been ardent supporters of the performing arts, with Wylie having served as Chair of the California Arts Council from 2010 to 2015 and the couple contributing generously to Chapman University (where Wylie is Chair of the Board of Trustees) and its Center for the Arts. They continue to support the Chance Theater at the Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center in Anaheim, recognized for its outstanding productions.
The couple’s generosity in supporting higher education has included significant contributions and service to Chapman, California State Fullerton University, Santa Ana Community College, and establishing the Wylie and Bette Aitken Law School Scholarship fund at Marquette, supporting primarily minority students and establishing the Wylie and Bette Aitken Reading Room in the new law school building. Wylie is also a member of the Law School Advisory Board.
With all three of his children – Darren, Christopher and Ashleigh – working at Aitken Aitken Cohn, Wylie has a solid legacy should he one day retire – which he has said he has no plans to do. He says, “I’ll just keep having fun.”
Wylie says if he weren’t a lawyer he would have been an actor, and jokes that as a trial lawyer, he is “an actor but limited to playing to small audiences of 12.”