Gray has more than a decade of experience representing employers in workplace litigation, handling labor relations disputes and providing strategic counsel on labor and employment law issues. She advises clients in a broad range of industries including education, software and technology services, real estate, financial services, retail and manufacturing. Gray tailors her solution-oriented counsel to the particular needs of each client, considering the nuances of their business in order to deliver advice that is practical and in line with their goals, values and culture. Gray is the regional practice lead for the firm's Labor & Employment Department for the Chicago office.
A native Spanish speaker from the Dominican Republic, Gray is adept at providing Spanish language representation to clients. She works fluently with Spanish language witnesses and documents, including document review, depositions, mediations, administrative proceedings, internal investigations and employment as well as various types of training.
Ms. Benkers joined Plano Synergy as the company’s General Counsel in May, 2015. Ms. Benkers is a member of the company's Executive Committee and is responsible for overseeing the Plano Synergy companies’ legal affairs including litigation, intellectual property, and corporate matters.
Prior to joining Plano Synergy, Ms. Benkers was a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP where she specialized in the areas of general commercial and intellectual property litigation. At Quarles & Brady, Ms. Benkers handled a wide variety of commercial disputes including patent infringement, trade secret, copyright infringement, trademark, false advertising, breach of contract, fraud, UCC claims, insurance coverage, breach of restrictive covenants, real estate, employment, licensing and various other business disputes. Outside of the litigation context, Ms. Benkers counseled clients on business practices on a number of fronts, including securing and protecting their intellectual property, advertising, regulatory and environmental issues, document retention issues, and other general business advice.
Josie obtained her Juris Doctorate, cum laude from the University of Wisconsin. She also obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in Psychology.
Accomplished corporate lawyer with diverse in-house and major law firm experience. Well skilled in advising on complex legal issues in an easily understood manner. Results oriented problem solver with a collaborative approach that promotes actionable, profitable solutions. Licensed in Illinois and Missouri.
Jennifer Crawford has served as Litigation Counsel at The Marmon Group in Chicago, Illinois since 2016. In this role, she manages litigation and advises key business leaders for approximately 175 independent Marmon business units in the manufacturing industry, along with general corporate practice. Prior to going in-house, she spent nearly a decade practicing law in the areas of product liability and toxic tort litigation at Locke Lord (formerly Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon) and Faegre Baker Daniels. Before entering private practice, Jennifer gained extensive trial experience as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She is also a frequent guest speaker and trial advocacy coach at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Jennifer earned her J.D. at the University of Toledo, and her B.S. at the University of Michigan.
Julie Miceli has concentrated experience advising colleges and universities on legal issues related to campus safety, including Title IX, the Clery Act, serving minors and emergency planning and response; financial aid, including Title IV compliance, loan servicing and collections; as well as development matters, including fundraising, major gifts and permissible use of charitable contributions. She also provides legal counsel on issues and litigation related to faculty tenure, student conduct, disability accommodations and employment issues. Before joining Husch Blackwell, Julie served as the deputy general counsel for higher education and federal student aid at the U.S. Department of Education, and prior to that, as the chief of staff and special counsel to the general counsel for that agency. Most recently, Julie served as associate general counsel at Northwestern University, a major research institution in Evanston, Illinois.
Myra Selby, former associate justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, has a broad-based practice with a focus in the areas of corporate internal investigations, appellate practice, compliance counseling, complex litigation, risk management, strategic and other legal advice, based upon an understanding of the related business objectives, across various industry sectors.
She serves in the role of advisor for large institutional clients as well as individuals. She is a trained and experienced commercial mediator and arbitrator.
Myra has the distinction of being both the first woman and the first African American to serve as an associate justice on the Indiana Supreme Court. While on the Court from January 1995-1999, Selby participated in several landmark decisions involving state property taxes, insurance and tort law reform. She authored more than 100 majority opinions receiving national recognition. Selby spearheaded efforts to increase the Court's accessibility to the public by expanding education and outreach activities. In 1999, the Indiana Supreme Court appointed Selby to chair its Commission on Race and Gender Fairness. The commission is charged with ensuring fairness and diversity in the legal system. She continues her tradition of service to the commission as a current member.
Prior to her appointment to the Court, Myra was director of health care policy for the state of Indiana, where she was responsible for policy development and the execution of state health care programs, including Medicaid managed care.
Myra received a Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College in 1977 and a juris doctor from the University of Michigan School of Law in 1980. She is admitted to practice law in the state of Indiana.
Brette Bensinger focuses her practice in the area of labor and employment law, providing counsel to employers in both the private and public sectors. She has litigated class action discrimination claims, as well as retaliation and whistleblower lawsuits, and has particular experience in wage and hour disputes in the context of private litigation, as well as with the U.S. Department of Labor and Illinois Department of Labor. As part of her practice, Ms. Bensinger regularly counsels employers on workforce management matters, including medical leave and accommodations, employee discipline, overtime classification and noncompetes. Ms. Bensinger also conducts sensitive workplace investigations into claims of employee and corporate misconduct.
In addition to her representation of businesses, Ms. Bensinger represents a number of state and local agencies, and served as a lead counsel representing the first elected official to be found in compliance with a longstanding federal discrimination consent decree, which is still active against other elected officials.
Michelle Ruff’s practice presently centers around licensing and compliance. Since 2012 she has served as a legal advisor to corporate counsel and leaders at Amrock, a title and technology company located in Detroit, Michigan. She is heavily relied upon for matters in Texas and is an expert in all matters pertaining to title, curative, real estate and settlement services for the State of Georgia.
Prior to working for Amrock, Michelle was in private practice handling real estate, family, criminal, unemployment appeals, social security appeals and immigration matters. She is a seasoned family law litigator and believes that her civil litigation practice has helped her to skillfully find creative legal solutions to meet complex compliance issues.
She graduated with her B.A. in Communications from Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL in 1996 and with a M.A. in Communications from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY in 1998. A 2001 graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, Michelle participated in the Immigration Clinic as a student; received an award for her public service work; and, was an active member of the Diversity Committee. After graduation, she begin her career working with Farmworker Legal Services in Michigan and proudly continued her non-profit service with Cobb County Legal Aid, a division of Atlanta Legal Aid and the Latin American Association before going into private practice. She is a member of the Kentucky, Michigan and Georgia Bar Associations.
Michelle has put together training materials on cultural sensitivity for guardian ad litems and spoken on the impact of natural disasters on immigrants for young lawyers assisting Hurricane Katrina victims.
Most importantly, Michelle has two adult children, who endured college, graduate and law school with her as a single mother. She is an avid fitness enthusiast who volunteers to teach a workout class to senior citizens in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives.
Joy joined World Business Chicago (WBC) in July 2014 as a special advisor for international initiatives. She was recruited to WBC to lead the formation of Metro Chicago Exports (MCE), an unprecedented collaboration between the City of Chicago through WBC, and the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will) with the goal of increasing exports from SMEs and supporting regional job growth. After the successful launch of MCE, Joy served as Interim Director/Program Manager of MCE until a permanent managing director was named. Joy also led the recruitment of the Legal Advisory Board comprised of senior leadership from 15 major law firms and 15 general counsels from WBC Board member companies to guide and assist WBC in identifying and navigating legal issues arising out of the Mayor’s Plan for Economic Growth (the “Plan”).
Currently, Joy reports directly to the President/CEO of WBC and functions in various newly-created roles from serving as General Counsel to raising awareness, fundraising, creating, developing and leading strategic initiatives and cultivating new external partnerships to further WBC’s mission to drive inclusive economic growth and job creation, cultivate talent, support businesses, and promote Chicago as a leading global city. Joy also manages the engagement and integration of Legal Advisory Board members and their designated representatives with WBC strategy leaders for the Plan and oversees legal work of the Legal Advisory Board serving as outside counsel to various WBC strategies, initiatives and projects.
Prior to joining WBC, Joy was an attorney at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, where she played an instrumental role in the setting up of Edwards Wildman’s office located in Istanbul, Turkey. Joy also worked with companies interested in doing business in the Central Europe Middle East and North Africa regions and other emerging markets. She recently accompanied the State of Illinois and five Illinois-based companies on a trade mission to Istanbul.
Joy and her family moved to Chicago in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina struck their home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Joy has spent the past eight years in Chicago practicing law with Edwards Wildman Palmer and Kirkland and Ellis LLP. As an attorney, Joy has over a decade of experience counseling national and international clients in a wide variety of litigation, corporate restructuring and insolvency matters, and global and cross-border corporate transactions. Joy has represented clients covering a wide span of industries including airlines, automotive, banking, energy, entertainment, food processing, hospitality, gaming, infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate, retail, shipyards, telecommunications and utilities. Prior to her legal career, Joy served in various roles at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Joy earned her J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University, her Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University, and her Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University. Joy also attended the London School of Economics and earned a General Course Certificate in International Politics and Economics.
Reena Jashnani-Slusarz is the Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at Elementum. Reena has advised on legal issues relating to alternative investments and investment advisory services since 2006. Prior to joining Elementum, Reena was a Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc. where she, along with the general counsel, was responsible for all legal affairs including providing legal advice with respect to all aspects of its business, directing relationships with external counsel, and assisting in maintaining its operations in compliance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements. Prior to joining Mesirow, Reena was an associate at Sidley Austin LLP where she serviced a variety of direct trading and fund-of-funds managers with respect to legal, regulatory, and compliance matters. Reena earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois.
Tiffany S. Fordyce is Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s Workforce Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement group. She concentrates her practice on commercial litigation, with an emphasis on labor and employment. Her employment litigation practice includes virtually all types of discrimination and retaliation claims, wage and hour claims, trade secret misappropriation claims, whistleblower claims, restrictive covenants, Fair Credit Reporting Act claims, and WARN Act claims. Tiffany defends both single plaintiff and class action employment cases. Tiffany represents employers in federal, state and administrative courts, as well as before administrative agencies.
As Director of Business Development for Counsel On Call, Cherisse Lake works collaboratively with in-house legal departments and law firms to manage their legal and compliance matters and create effective and economical business and legal solutions. She works with clients in the Midwest and is based in Chicago.
Cherisse has served in consulting and business development roles in the legal industry for more than 10 years. Prior to joining Counsel On Call, she was the Director of Business Development for an international provider of eDiscovery, data management and managed review services for law firms and corporations. She was also previously with Thomson Reuters Expert Witness Services where she was named Business Development Executive of the Year in 2013 and 2012.
Before jumping into business development in the legal industry, Cherisse spent almost seven years as a litigation attorney in Chicago.
Jena Valdetero is a trusted business and legal advisor to companies around the world addressing complex data privacy and security issues. Ms. Valdetero heads up the firm's data breach response team, where she helps her clients assess their cyber security risks, prepare for a data breach, and respond to security incidents. In addition, Ms. Valdetero is a certified privacy professional through the International Association of Privacy Professionals, for which she is a former KnowledgeNet Co-Chair.
In addition to her data privacy and security practice, Ms. Valdetero handles complex commercial litigation and business disputes on behalf of a diverse array of clients, including mortgage lenders and servicers, commercial lenders, consumer product manufacturers, healthcare companies, major retailers, and individual parties. Ms. Valdetero defends clients facing business disputes, consumer lawsuits, and class actions. Ms. Valdetero has handled dozens of consumer class actions in the Northern District of Illinois and federal courts elsewhere, often achieving dismissal of cases before class certification. She approaches matters with an eye towards achieving the best possible resolution for the client, taking into consideration the client’s business interests, the strength of the legal defenses, and the need to discourage vexatious litigation. She prides herself on being responsive, recognizing that her role includes making sure clients are always fully apprised of what is happening in the matter as soon as it happens.
Executive at the intersection of financial services and technology. Seasoned member of C-suite known for sound business judgment. Expertise in domestic and international M&A, finance, regulatory affairs, compliance leadership, human capital, strategy development/execution, crisis management/high-risk litigation, corporate governance and fiduciary duties, process improvements. Experienced member of boards of directors of for-profit companies. Interested in C-suite and Board opportunities.
Marsha D. Rubin is Vice President and General Counsel at Essendant, a wholesale distributor of business products headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois. Marsha has been with Essendant for 12 years, previously holding the positions of Senior Corporate Attorney and Assistant General Counsel. Before joining Essendant, Marsha worked as in-house counsel with a publicly-traded real estate investment trust based in Chicago. She started her career as an associate at DLA Piper and Mayer Brown doing transactional real estate work. She received her B. A. from Cornell University and her J. D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where she served as an editor of the Law Review.
Lorraine M. Tyson focuses her practice on corporate finance, privatization and public finance transactions. She represents insurance companies, pension funds, banks, finance companies and other institutional investors on corporate finance transactions. Lorraine has acted as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, remarketing agent counsel, issuer's counsel or letter of credit counsel in connection with financings by the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority, the Illinois Finance Authority, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Cook County, Illinois and the Board of Education of the City of Chicago.
Lynne is co-chair of the Compensation and Employment Group. She concentrates her practice in employment and labor law, employee benefits and executive compensation. Her practice has provided her with a breadth of experience in all aspects of a company's relationships with its executives and other employees, including executive employment, severance and compensation agreements and arrangements. She regularly advises clients on the tax law and ERISA requirements of tax-qualified retirement plans and represents clients before the IRS and DOL in connection with tax-qualified plans. Lynne has extensive experience in the employment, employee benefit and executive compensation issues that arise in mergers, acquisitions and liquidations.
Lynne advises organizations of all sizes in many different industries, including non-profit entities, in employment and labor law matters, from hiring (including background checks, drug testing, offer letters, and employment agreements), on-going compliance (including Federal and state wage hour compliance, sexual harassment and discrimination, retirement and welfare benefits, performance reviews, reasonable accommodation under the ADA, leave requirements under the FMLA and various state leave laws, and discipline issues) and termination issues including WARN Act compliance. Additionally, Lynne’s practice includes investigations into harassment and discrimination complaints, and the resolution of disputes in the employment context, including private dispute resolution, arbitration and litigation.
Lynne is Chair of the Firm's Wellness Committee and is an active member of its Insurance Committee. She oversees the Firm's human resources department on behalf of the partnership.
Tina Bird is a Partner in the Real Estate Practice Group and her practice is nationwide, including contract drafting and negotiation, arbitrations, civil trials, mediations, claim preparation and mid-project analysis.
Tina represents material suppliers, subcontractors, contractors, construction managers, design-builders, architects, owners and sureties in every aspect of their business.
Before joining Freeborn, Tina was a Partner at Clark Hill PLC in the Firm's Construction, Business and Corporate Transactions, Litigation and Real Estate departments.
Roxy Bargoz is VP of Legal and Operations at Amount, a technology company focused on helping financial institutions digitize their credit offerings. In her current role, Roxy oversees all aspects of legal at Amount and is also focused on establishing the internal infrastructure and processes necessary to scale the business.
Prior to joining Amount, Roxy worked in private practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, representing lenders, borrowers, issuers, underwriters and placement agents in the securitization industry on a variety of transactions, including asset-backed and mortgage-backed public, 144A and private securities offerings, secured warehouse lending facilities, asset-backed credit facilities and term loans, term note and variable funding note offerings, print and advertising (P&A) film financings, mortgage loan and securities repurchase finance facilities, commercial loan transactions and cross-border securitizations.
Roxy received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with highest honors and a J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served on Law Review.
Dana Henderson is Chief Counsel- Technology, Data Privacy & Security for US LBM. Prior to joining US LBM, Dana was Associate General Counsel at Experian Health. Dana received her J.D. from the Universoty of Illinois College of Law.
Maya Ewing is Director and Senior Managing Counsel at Allstate Insurance Company in Northbrook, Illinois. In her current role, Ewing leads the Employment and Benefits Team responsible for employment-related litigation and for providing legal counsel to Human Resources and Allstate business units.
Ewing joined Allstate in 2002 and has held a variety of positions in Corporate Litigation, Corporate Law and Insurance Operations Law divisions, while successfully directing several key initiatives for the corporation. During her tenure at Allstate, Ewing has led a multitude of employment class action litigation and complex insurance business initiatives, as well as co-chaired the law department’s Inclusive Diversity Council.
Earlier in her career, Ewing built a foundation for her career at Allstate through legal practice with a Chicago-based law firm and the U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor’s Office. Ewing holds a B.A. degree in English from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
First and foremost, Meghan McMeel is a litigator. She relishes the role of courtroom advocate and approaches every aspect of the job with equal measures of tenacity and common sense. Having entered the field of product liability early in her career, she possesses as much trial experience as many lawyers with considerably more seniority.
Meghan always enjoys taking on new missions and new responsibilities, tackling them with confidence and working hard until every issue is resolved. She has extensive experience advising manufacturers with product-liability issues, successfully defending their products and reporting to government agencies. She has represented large corporations at trial, filing evidentiary motions, preparing witnesses, and arguing motions. She has handled litigation for multiple product manufacturers, including day-to-day litigation, mediation, expert preparation, discovery issues, motion practice, and settlement negotiations.
But she doesn’t stop there. Meghan has experience in intellectual property and employment disputes and advises, investigates, and litigates Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases.
Although she’s a tireless advocate, Meghan also believes in the power and value of good-faith negotiation. And while she realizes that the judicious application of a carefully measured amount of whiskey and water may not solve most problems, it never hurts to try.
Jen Dlugosz is a hands-on litigator who defends businesses in toxic tort and product liability matters in some of the most dangerous jurisdictions across the United States. Often taking a lead role in toxic tort cases in the Chicago area, Jen has served as national coordinating counsel for toxic tort claims and defended clients in repetitive litigation and pre-litigation claims stemming from product liability issues and recalls. Jen’s experience also includes commercial litigation, white collar investigations, insurance litigation and contract disputes.
Mary McKelvey is a fierce and highly respected trial attorney who is influential in every aspect of her career, i.e. in litigating difficult cases for national and global clients, in handling high stakes pro bono cases, in successfully assuming leadership positions at the state and local bar levels, in supporting the next generation of women lawyers, in mentoring at-risk non-lawyer women, and in proactively volunteering in the community. In addition to extensive trial experience, Mary has wide range of experience in all stages of litigation including trial preparation, taking and defending percipient and expert witness depositions, developing innovative case handling strategy during discovery, and drafting complex pleadings and arguing dispositive motions in both state and federal court. Mary masterfully presents complex facts, concepts, medical vocabulary, historical data, scientific data, and other complicated issues in ways that jurors and judges can understand and use to arrive at fair and just decisions.
Mary has a deep passion for pro bono work and serves as the Pro Bono Coordinator for Polsinelli’s Los Angeles office. In her own words, “Doing pro bono work has allowed me glimpses into realities I would not otherwise have encountered. It has allowed me a multi-dimensional perspective on important issues such as immigration policies and the effectiveness of our criminal justice system. It has allowed me to assist others that I would never even have had the privilege of encountering but for my handling of their matter on a pro bono basis.
Christie Bolsen Benear is Corporate Counsel at Glanbia Performance Nutrition, a global business with industry leading brands including Optimum Nutrition, BSN, ABB (American Body Building), Isopure, thinkThin, Amazing Grass, and most recently SlimFast. She focuses on all aspects labor & employment, providing counsel, global legal support, and training in areas including hiring practices, performance management and discipline, investigation of employee complaints, employee leaves of absence and requests for accommodation, compliance with all federal, state, and international employment laws, and more. She also drafts and reviews workplace policies and contracts, including non-competition agreements and severance agreements. In addition, she works on employee claims at all stages, from threats of legal action to charges of discrimination to litigation.
Prior to going in house, Christie gained experience in litigation and labor & employment law in various law firms, beginning her career at Winston & Strawn in Chicago. While working at firms, her practice included auditor liability, class actions, pharmaceutical and technological patent litigation, securities litigation, civil rights disputes, and other complex commercial litigation, in addition to extensive experience with all aspects of labor & employment cases including wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and failure to accommodate.
Christie graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in political science and philosophy with a minor in journalism, and graduated cum laude from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Liz Walker spent over a decade as litigation counsel representing various companies and insurance carriers in complex coverage matters. Over the course of her career, she not only served as outside counsel representing insurers, but also worked in-house managing mass litigation claims and coverage communications for a global insurance company.
In 2013, she changed roles to join an insured, Chicago tech company, Groupon, Inc., managing Groupon’s interests in various litigation and pre-litigation matters. Groupon is a mobile and online marketplace where people discover and save on amazing things to do, see, eat and buy.
After 3 ½ years in Groupon’s legal department, Liz reinvented her career by developing, then filling, her current role managing Groupon’s global insurance and enterprise risk. She is also a very active member of the Chicago Chapter of the Risk & Insurance Management Society and a member of the Chicagoland Risk Forum committee – the committee that plans the Chicago Chapter’s annual risk conference.
Liz also speaks at various risk and insurance conferences on subjects including cyber risk coverage, the future of insurance, and how to internally market yourself to achieve risk management success. In December 2018, Business Insurance named Liz as an Honoree of the 2018 Women to Watch Award.
Amanda Demas is responsible for all the legal affairs of BMO Harris Financial Advisors and BMO Harris Investment Distributors. BMO Harris Financial Advisors is a U.S. retail broker-dealer, registered investment advisory, and insurance broker, and BMO Investment Distributors is a U.S. limited broker-dealer responsible for distributing the BMO mutual funds. Both entities are divisions of the Bank of Montreal. Prior to BMO, Amanda was Assistant General Counsel for Chase Wealth Management.
Maureen is a Director in Uber Technologies, Inc.’s (Uber) safety and insurance team where she has worked over the past three and a half years. She manages litigation and high exposure claims arising out Uber’s general and auto liability insurance policies in the United States and Canada. She also regularly counsels the business on risk mitigation as well as safety and legal best practices. In addition to her legal capacities, she is a dedicated people manager who is lucky to oversee an incredible team of over 30 legal professionals that continues to innovate in this industry. Prior to her role at Uber, Maureen worked in a commercial transportation litigation group at the office of SmithAmundsen, LLC in Chicago, Illinois after launching her career as a trial lawyer at the office of Parillo, Weiss, & O’Halloran where she first chaired more than 40 trials to verdict. She believes strong in Uber’s mission to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion and that insurance is a critical part of that mission.
Alejandra Garcia Earley handles financing, development, and management of domestic and international power, energy, and infrastructure-related projects, as well as other corporate matters. She also structures, drafts, and leads negotiations for transaction documents related to project finance, investment tax credit, and mid and large cap leveraged transactions. She represents clients from a wide range of industries including financial institutions, developers, sponsors, lenders, and asset owners in the power industry.
Renee Lewis is a partner in Holland & Knight's Chicago office and a member of the firm's Financial Services Practice Group. Ms. Lewis advises company executives and owners on strategically structuring complex financing transactions. Her practice focuses on counsel for financial institutions, privately held companies and trustees in the structuring, negotiation and documentation of employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transactions, which may entail leveraged buyouts, equity repurchases and corporate reorganizations.
Ms. Lewis's substantial corporate compliance and transactional experience includes:
Nyree is Vice President and Senior Counsel with Amex Bank of Canada. She has a broad range ofexperience in many areas of commercial law with particular expertise inintellectual property, technology, privacy and advertising law. Nyree alsoprovides legal as well as strategic advice on social media policies andinitiatives. Nyree practiced as a technology lawyer with Herbert Smith, aleading international law firm, in London, England from 1998 - 2005. Nyree joined TELUS on her return to Canada in2005 as part of the legal team that supports TELUS’ consumer solutionsportfolio across Canada. In January 2011, Nyree joined the General Counsel'sOffice of Amex Bank of Canada where she advises the Merchant Services lineof business in Canada and advises on efforts in Canada and internationally tosupport digital capabilities for American Express. Nyree holds an honours degree in Geography and French from the University of Guelph and a CPE/LPC (Distinction)from the College of Law, London. She isadmitted as a solicitor in England and Wales (2000) and obtained an LL.M. in Computer and Communications Law from the University of London (2002). Nyree was admitted to the Ontario Bar in2008.
Perving Taleyarkhan is Legal Counsel at Whirlpool. Her experience includes IP strategy, contract negotiation, as well as litigation. Prior to Whirlpool she served as Legal Associate in the IP legal team at Purdue University. She earned her BSChE in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and her J.D. from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney, School of Law. Pervin is actively involved in the American Bar Association, where she serves on the Editorial Board of the ABA Journal, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the Young Lawyer Division (ABA YLD)'s flagship The Young Lawyer. She is currently Vice Chair of the IP Law Section of the ABA YLD. In addition, Pervin is active in the ABA IP Law Section in various capacities, including work on the Editorial Board of the ABA IPL Section's Landslide magazine and chairing the Section's In-house IP Committee. She is also serving on the IP Counsel at the State Bar of Michigan and the Board of Directors for the Michigan Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). At the regional level, Pervin co-chairs the ACC's Southwest Michigan Committee.
Andrea is USA Financial’s chief legal and compliance officer and handles the firm’s litigation and IP matters in conjunction with outside counsel, as well as all regulatory compliance and corporate governance issues. Andrea prides herself on developing relationships with USA Financial’s advisors and clients and breaking down antiquated compliance stereotypes.
Named to USA Financial’s board of directors at 26, Andrea has helped USA Financial grow its corporate subsidiary structure and had direct involvement in the creation of three new companies, two of which are registered investment advisers that manage a billion dollars in assets. She oversees the legal and compliance operations for three registered investment advisers, a broker-dealer, an insurance wholesaler, and two marketing and media companies. Andrea has been featured in various industry publications including ThinkAdvisor, Compliance Week, and InvestmentNews. She recently launched UnNiched, an initiative and podcast focused on supporting women professionals in the financial industry with an aim to dismantling the notion that women are a small, recessed segment of the population.
Andrea received a B.S. in broadcast journalism from Michigan State University and a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law where she participated in moot court and received oral advocacy honors. Andrea was a full-ride scholarship athlete and swam for both Texas A&M University and Michigan State University. She worked as a reporter for Fox Sports during college and law school and turned down an on-air reporter position for ABC 53 in Lansing to pursue her legal career.
Tonya Vachirasomboon is a member of the firm’s Business Services Department and counsels her clients in numerous areas of business law.
Tonya has extensive experience representing companies, their owners, and their investors in stock and asset acquisitions and divestitures, mergers, and other reorganizations. In addition, she has worked with a number of startup and emerging companies by assisting them with forming their companies, securing angel and venture capital financing, protecting intellectual property, and completing agreements among founders and employees. She also advises clients in the private placement of securities and assists financial institutions with banking regulatory matters and securities law compliance.
Tonya frequently serves as corporate counsel to a number of privately held businesses and advises them on a wide range of matters including corporate governance, ownership and stockholders issues, business restructuring, and commercial contracting.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Finance-Real Estate, from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2005, where she graduated with distinction. She then earned her J.D. in 2008, graduating cum laude, from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.
Tonya was recognized by the Indiana Lawyer as an “Up and Coming Lawyer” during the 2011 Leadership in Law Awards, and has been a Top Ten Finalist in Law for Indy’s Best and Brightest Awards.
Dr. Tara Nealey is a member of the Science and Technology practice group, with a background in academic physiology research. She focuses on advising clients with intellectual property questions related to life science technologies. After completing her Ph.D. in neurophysiology followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in retinal research, she moved to the practice of patent law. Her experience encompasses a decade of providing patent counsel to clients ranging from individual inventor, to public and private universities and research institutions, start-up companies, mid-size firms and Fortune 500 companies including generic and branded pharmaceutical companies. She prepares and prosecutes U.S. and international patent applications, provides patentability reviews and opinions, freedom to operate and clearance opinions and product design arounds, does patent landscaping, and analyzes in- and out-licenses of patented technologies. She recently assisted a Fortune 500 company in analyzing the patent landscape relating to RNAi molecules and products in support of a complex multi-party licensing and business strategy. She has also recently assisted two start-up companies in securing the IP protection necessary for successful rounds of venture capital funding.
An important aspect of Tara’s practice involves advising clients on developing a comprehensive patenting and patent portfolio strategy, legal aspects of licensing and commercialization strategies, and also reviewing technology and “know-how” licenses, confidentiality agreements, and material transfer agreements. She also counsels clients on trade secret protection and unfair competition, and related copyright and trademark issues.
Melanie Chico concentrates her practice on complex business and commercial litigation matters. She uses her industry knowledge and client-focused approach to tailor litigation strategies that resolve disputes with minimal impact on business operations and the bottom line. Ms. Chico has successfully litigated cases involving breach of contract, business torts, construction defects, fraud, employment discrimination, restrictive covenants, antitrust, intellectual property, and class action defense. She represents real estate developers, trading companies, employers, manufacturers, retailers, insurance carriers, financial institutions, voluntary associations, and local governmental units. Ms. Chico also has extensive experience handling a broad range of cases impacting the automotive industry. Examples include product liability, breach of warranty, consumer fraud, subrogation, premises liability, technology and intellectual property, and dealer claims.
Ms. Chico has tried cases in federal and state courts and has significant experience litigating temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctions. In addition to her trial work, Ms. Chico has defended and prosecuted multiple appeals before the Illinois Appellate Court and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She also regularly handles mediations and arbitrations.
Ms. Chico actively contributes to the firm and the community. She is the Hiring Member for Dykema’s Chicago office and participates in training programs for associates. Ms. Chico dedicates her time to pro bono cases, particularly those involving vulnerable populations and civil rights violations.
TALITA RAMOS ERICKSON is General Counsel (Americas) & CEO Barilla Restaurants, for the Barilla Group, the Italian food company. In her legal capacity, she manages legal, compliance, and crisis management for the Region, with focus on U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Mexico. Since 2018, she has an additional business role managing the company’s restaurants division. From 2013 to 2016, she served as Barilla’s first Global Chief Diversity Officer, leading the company’s Global D&I Board and managing the implementation of a comprehensive Global D&I program.
She currently serves on the Board of The Cradle, a non-for-profit that advances the well-being of children by compassionately delivering exceptional education, guidance and lifelong support to build, preserve and strengthen their families. She also serves on the national Board for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), a non-profit dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals.
Prior to joining Barilla, she had work and academic experiences in Brazil, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, including several positions during her 10-year tenure at Kraft Foods.
She holds a J.D. from Federal University of Paraná (Brazil), an LL. M. in Business Law from Loyola University of Chicago, and an M.B.A. from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is licensed to practice law in Brazil, New York, and Illinois.
Laura Anderson is an associate at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP in Chicago, where she serves on the firm’s recruiting committee. She concentrates her practice in general tort litigation with a special interest in representing physicians, hospitals, and healthcare providers in cases involving alleged medical negligence. Laura has served as trial counsel in cases taken through verdict before juries throughout the Chicagoland area, including Cook County and Will County. In both a local and national setting, she works with executives, senior management, and in-house counsel of corporations and hospitals in managing litigation as well as advising on litigation risks and strategy.
Laura is active in charitable work and has spent several years on the executive committee of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundations’ Associates Board. Following law school, Laura served a two-year term as Judicial Clerk to the Honorable William D. Maddux while he was the Presiding Judge of the Law Division for the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Madina Axelrod concentrates her practice on product liability, toxic tort and commercial litigation. She handles these matters from inception to trial, including conducting and defending depositions, arguing motions, and resolving matters through negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Ms. Axelrod has obtained numerous dismissals for equipment manufacturers in commercial and toxic tort actions.
Ms. Axelrod serves as National Coordinating Counsel ("NCC"), Regional Counsel and local counsel for multinational equipment manufacturers and other defendants in asbestos litigation. As NCC, she manages nationwide asbestos litigation, develops strategy, creates budgets, prepares corporate witnesses for deposition, coordinates expert and fact witness discovery, and conducts settlement negotiations.
Upon obtaining her Juris Doctor from the Moscow State Academy of Law in 1997, Ms. Axelrod practiced law in Moscow, Russia serving as in-house counsel for Russia’s largest brewing company. In 2002, Ms. Axelrod obtained her LL.M degree from Cornell Law School. Ms. Axelrod’s education and work experience allow her to provide the firm’s clients with a broad range of legal services pertaining to international law and Russian civil procedure, intellectual property, and commercial and labor law.
Since 2014, Ms. Axelrod has been a member of Segal McCambridge’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and in 2018 was appointed Chairperson. She is a committed advocate for those without access to legal resources. As a volunteer for inMotion, Ms. Axelrod counsels and represents women in New York City regarding various legal matters. She also represents homeless individuals through her involvement with H.E.L.P. New York.
Ken Williams is a shareholder in Segal McCambridge's Michigan office where he concentrates his practice in the insurance coverage and premises liability arenas. His litigation work has included no-fault first and third party cases and uninsured and underinsured cases.
Mr. Williams is also a participant, speaker and writer for the firm's Technology & Cyber Risk Practice Group. He participates in consulting and research on current and upcoming industry trends, technology, standards, best practices, concepts and solutions for risk management and compliance. Mr. Williams is also available to serve as a consult in cyber risk management. His additional areas of expertise focus on insurance coverage and claim analysis for insurance carriers and private clients
Joining the firm as a lateral hire in 2017, Mr. Williams came to Segal McCambridge with career experience as a dedicated litigator. He has sophisticated familiarity trying cases in courtrooms across the state of Michigan with a marked history trying cases which resulted in defense verdicts. He also has litigated matters in Illinois and Florida. In addition to his notable trial work, Mr. Williams has significant experience at the appellate level, including post appellate-submission work which includes oral argument before the Michigan Court of Appeals. Mr. Williams has also served as firm managing attorney and lead trial counsel throughout his work as a trial attorney.
Before joining Segal McCambridge, Mr. Williams was a shareholder in a Michigan civil defense firm. His previous work also includes time as an in-house staff attorney and as a litigation specialist/ consultant for two national insurance groups where he had significant jury trial experience and where he managed catastrophic claims and high exposure files.
Mr. Williams attended law school at Wayne State University and received his B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is also an active member of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Committee, often being called up to speak on relevant topics at outside conferences and seminars. Outside of work, Mr. Williams spends his time strength training and practicing yoga. He enjoys movies and writing fictional pieces.
Ashleigh Johnson is a partner in Foley & Mansfield’s St. Louis office. She practices in toxic and mass tort defense, with an emphasis on asbestos litigation, in addition to employment law and litigation.
Ashleigh also has a background in litigation relating to fiduciary breaches and prohibited transactions under ERISA, specific to 401(k) plan formation, plan document adherence, and fiduciary responsibilities relating to investment fund selection and management, and has participated in FINRA arbitration cases. Additionally, she has worked on sexual harassment and wrongful termination cases.
Ashleigh received her Juris Doctorate in 2007 from the Saint Louis University School of Law. While there, she interned at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois and received her mediation certification. Additionally, she received the Dean’s Scholarship and was the recipient of a Public Interest Law Group Fellowship. She also served as an Ambassador to Potential New Faculty, a Teaching Assistant for Family Law, and worked as a Faculty Fellow for the Head of the Employment Law Center, conducting research on employment law related issues, including the use of arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
Within the firm, Ashleigh serves as the St. Louis partner coordinator for continuing legal education programs, and as the representative to the firm's mentoring committee, mentoring younger attorneys and sharing best practices across the firm.
Ashleigh volunteers her time with the American Lung Association and is the past chair of the Volunteer Leadership Council for the American Lung Association in St. Louis. She has previously volunteered as a Relay for Life Team Captain for the American Cancer Society and participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS.
Ashleigh is the owner of two rescue cats, Ziggy and Dinah
Jocelyn Soriano is a partner in Foley & Mansfield’s Walnut Creek office. An experienced trial attorney, she has managed more than 2000 toxic tort cases and has taken dozens of cases to trial. She is also an active Discovery Facilitator for the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Deeply committed to diversity in the legal profession, Jocelyn actively participates in the firm’s Diversity Committee.
Sarah Biggs is a Shareholder and Board Member at McAndrews and practices a broad range of intellectual property law focusing on patent and trademark opinion work, prosecution, litigation, agreements and client counseling. She helps technical clients strategically protect their intellectual property, with a focus on chemistry, biology and biochemistry.
Sarah has extensive experience in various industries with particular expertise in the medical device, nutritional product, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Her clients appreciate her ability to be cost-effective, practical and focused on their goals. By analyzing those goals, their technology and the intellectual property landscape in their technical area, she helps them determine how best to protect their ideas, inventions and brands. She then helps them identify and pursue that protection that will best protect their interests, as well as helping them utilize the intellectual property assets when obtained.
Clients rely on Sarah to provide counsel on potential risk and risk management strategies. This includes performing due diligence and preparing opinions related to licensing, acquisitions and potential litigation with a particular focus towards pharmaceutical compounds, nutritional formulations and sterile biological implants.
Sarah also helps her clients effectively and efficiently manage and develop their intellectual property portfolios. This involves harvesting and prioritizing ideas for intellectual property protection and routinely counseling clients about such protection.
Additionally, Sarah prepares and prosecutes domestic and foreign patent applications in a wide variety of technical areas including pharmaceuticals, chemicals for printed circuit board manufacture, surface treatment chemicals, carbon dioxide gas production methods and uses, hydrogen sensors, sterile biological implants, material sciences and drug screening methods. She also prepares and prosecutes domestic and foreign trademark registration applications.
Sarah has been involved in all aspects of patent, trademark, trade dress and unfair competition litigation, including coordinating various elements of discovery, researching legal, factual and scientific issues, and preparing written submissions to the Court in a variety of technical areas, such as medical devices, consumer products and computerized methods.
As an undergraduate, Sarah participated in research programs at Michigan State University and the University of Pittsburgh in, respectively, environmental and polymer chemistry. She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at John Marshall Law School for several semesters.
Malaika Tyson is a Partner at McAndrews whose practice focuses on corporate intellectual property and patent protection strategies. Malaika assists innovative companies in developing integrated approaches to the strategic management of intellectual property by providing patent and trademark prosecution, competitive intellectual property analysis and portfolio management, and intellectual property due diligence. Malaika also has experience with post-grant proceedings, patent litigation, and EPO patent opposition practice. She represents clients in a variety of areas; particularly in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
Malaika received her J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School and earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry (Analytical) from Purdue University. Before joining McAndrews, she worked at MilliporeSigma (Formally Sigma-Aldrich) Biotechnology as a Senior Research and Development Scientist in the Proteomics group, where she was responsible for the development and optimization of products and strategies for biopharmaceutical applications.
Malaika serves as chair of the ABA-IPL Patent Legislation Committee, is co-chair of AIPLA’s USPTO Relations Subcommittee, a member of the board of directors for the Chicago Committee, a member of The Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago and The National Bar Association, and founding member of the Emerging Leaders Council of Bottom Line, an organization dedicated to helping low-income, first-generation Chicago high school students get into and achieve success in college.
Malaika is also well respected in the legal community. In 2016, she was selected as a 40 Under Forty recipient by Law Bulletin Publishing Company and is regularly recognized as an Illinois Rising Star for Intellectual property law.
Prior to joining United, Javaria was a litigation associate with the firm Pugh, Jones & Johnson. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa.
Lauren Schwarts is a trusted legal adviser with experience counseling C-Suite executives and other senior leadership on the issues that matter most to them. She has worked in a wide variety of settings, providing me with a unique point of view on today’s most cutting-edge legal issues. Lauren distills and translates complex legal and technical concepts into understandable and relatable advice. She is a creative strategist, laser-focused on getting the best results for my client and have a proven track record of mitigating risk, limiting exposure, and turning potential losses into wins for the business. Business leaders know they can rely on Lauren for creative solutions to their most pressing concerns—and that is both fulfilling and exciting.
An experienced and proven attorney with an established record of excellence. Utilize expertise gained from more than 20 years of successful practice, with particular emphasis on corporate law. A trusted and passionate counselor who relentlessly protects and promotes the rights of clients and business units.
Extensive experience and demonstrated success as general counsel with expertise in overseeing legal affairs for public and private companies. Superior knowledge of contract negotiations with high-tech firms as well as corporate restructuring strategies. Maintain professional relationships with clients, co-workers and management to structure “win-win” agreements which are still protective of the company’s interests and assets. Exceptionally proficient at high-tech service contracting within telecom and technology companies. Committed to promoting understanding of legal language, issues or concerns. Lead by example to instill confidence and continually enhance processes, procedures and revenue.
Nerissa Coyle McGinn’s practice focuses on matters involving the convergence of advertising and promotions, emerging media, technology, privacy and intellectual property law. She has particular experience advising on matters involving the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU).
Nerissa works with many of the best-known brands in the country, including H&R Block and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and its confection brands. Embracing a business-minded approach, she helps clients develop new brand assets and assists them in promoting and advertising their brands and products.
Clients — including Turner Broadcasting and its programming properties, for which she handles trademark clearances for new shows, web properties, interstitials and sweepstakes — regularly turn to Nerissa for trademark counseling services.
“I try to anticipate issues and provide innovative, effective solutions expeditiously for my clients.”
In the advertising and promotions facet of her practice, she works with clients on sweepstakes review, copy review, and promotion design and fulfillment, with an emphasis on internet and interactive advertising and promotions.
Her diverse roster of clients includes advertising agencies, large corporations, and professional sports teams including the New York Giants, the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Red Wings.
Nerissa also provides legal services for digital companies and app developers, handling a variety of IP matters and privacy policies and practices relating to websites and mobile applications.
As a thought leader in her industry, Nerissa frequently speaks at events and conferences. She also serves as the firm’s first chief diversity partner and co-chair of the Diversity Committee, overseeing and revamping diversity policies and initiatives.
Michelle is a Partner in the Chicago office. Based on her extensive experience in corporate immigration, she is responsible for managing client accounts for several startup, multinational and Fortune 500 companies. Michelle counsels U.S. and global companies on employment strategies, including strategic planning for global assignments and development of best practices to establish efficiencies across multiple jurisdictions. She works closely with corporate clients to develop compliance programs for defending workplace sanctions and to establish internal processes that ensure timely and compliant on-boarding of international personnel.
Michelle assists with asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) cases through the National Immigrant Justice Center.
Michelle speaks English, French and Spanish.